Tag Archives: NUS

The Study Tour Final Day

On Wednesday the 9th of July we had our final day of the La Trobe Nanotechnology Study Tour in Singapore. It was a really great day to end the tour on. First we started our morning by going to Biopolis, where we visited the Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) where we got to see some of their laboratories and then have an extremely intriguing presentation by Victor Nurcombe. Victor researched into stem cells, heparin glycosaminoglycan, and natural sugars. They were able to grow bones back using just the sugars in pigs, fish, rabbits, rats, and soon will have a human trial to see if it works in humans. 

After visiting IMB, we went to NUS’s surface science laboratories and the Singapore Synchrotron Light Source (SSLS) located in NUS. The SSLS was very interesting as it was such a small synchrotron, yet it was able to help so many different research machines that they had there. 

Our last stop for the study tour was IMRE where we started our study tour. It was good to meet Sean again and to discuss our thoughts about Singapore then compared to when we first arrived. After some tea, coffee and hot milo, a good discussion and a goodbye, we signed off the study tour and said goodbye to Paul and Dongchen. 

Since the study tour finished I have travelled to Jakarta, and am now currently in Bali relaxing by the pool. I definitely needed this little holiday to relax after the two weeks of hard, but enjoyable work.

 

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Meeting NUS students

This morning we all met up at 8 am, like we did yesterday. Although this time one of our group members, Trey, got a blister on his foot and couldn’t go with us for today’s activities. The first visit was to see some students from NUS who study similar subjects to what we do back at Latrobe. As an icebreaker, to get to know a few of the students joining us on today’s activities, we split our group into the nano, and pico groups.

After becoming acquainted with the students, we headed off to CIBA as our first lab visit.

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The next two labs we saw was a graphene lab, which was a clean room so we couldn’t actually enter however we still learnt a bit about what was going on inside. Next was the centre for quantum technologies, in which they showed us some work they’re doing with cold atoms.

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After all of these visits we went to lunch with the NUS students before visiting a room where NUS had organised a science demonstration class. Once the deonstration was finished, It was time to say goodbye to the NUS students before going back to U-town.

The Science of Exchange

When we visited the NUS’ science buildings today we had a chance to meet and hang out with students who were studying similar subjects. They were all very interested in what classes and opportunities are presented through the nanotechnology course like being able to operate in a clean room out of the MCN as well the prospect of having access to a synchrotron. This struck a chord with me, I knew that our course in Australia was unique and that the opportunity to use the Australian synchrotron by undergraduates was a rare privilege but NUS has a synchrotron in the middle of their campus and yet it’s almost unheard of for undergrads to be granted access.

 

Over lunch we got to have a good talk with the students from NUS and found that many of them had traveled to many places in Asia, which isn’t overly surprising when you consider the size of Singapore and the fact that the Singapore airport could be considered a hub for more of south-east Asia. With this ease of travel to other countries it is of little surprise that over half the students go on short term study abroad programs with 30 % of them staying for at least one semester. By sending their students out to other countries they gain a greater understanding of other cultures not to mention the advertising it does for the Uni itself, which draws in exchange students to them in turn. I’ve talked about how Singapore has very little to offer in terms of physical raw resources previously and that is why a lot of money is focused into ensuring that they have the brightest minds around so that they may stay one step ahead.

NUS with SPS

Today by far has to be my favourite day of the trip thus far. We were lucky enough to visit the NUS (National University of Singapore) science wing where we visited several labs, and met some important people.

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Our first stop was the SPS (Special Program in Science) headquarters. They had their own specially designated area for them to study and/or relax in, a library, conference room, and wet lab. I definitely would love it if the La Trobe Nanotechnology students had an area like this in our Melbourne campus. At SPS we met a group of five students, one of them being Kevin who will in fact be travelling to Melbourne soon to study at the Melbourne campus of La Trobe. They were our guides around NUS and also joined in all the activities in which we partook. They were an extremely kind group of people who I hope we stay in contact with.

The first lab in which we visited was extremely exciting as it contained a linear accelerator, which there aren’t too many of around the world. They would use the accelerator in order to accelerate protons into silicon in order to make channels and patterns. They could also accelerate the protons into certain cells to determine what they were composed of in an attempt to help with drug delivery systems. It was very rewarding to be allowed downstairs to get up close to the linear accelerator as not many people at the age of 19 get to do such a thing.

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We then had the chance to walk around the campus some more and look at some of the other labs they had such as their clean room. It was slightly difficult to peek into some of the labs however, as many of them had automatic doors. So then as soon as you go up to the window to peek in, the doors would start opening quickly and give you a freight. At least some of the students were amused by this.

Jenny from Quantum then met us for a quick seminar on what Quantum is, what they do and are trying to achieve. We were then shown around some of the labs where they are using cold atoms to create quantum entanglement. One of the two labs shown to us at Quantum was where they create chips that are used to catch atoms, the second lab being the one in which the chips were used to catch the atoms with the help of magnetic fields in order to cause quantum entanglement.

After a lunch break with the SPS students we were extremely lucky to be able to have a meeting with Andrew Wee Thye Shen who is the Vice President of the university and global relations. He told us all about NUS, what they want to achieve, how they bring the world to NUS, and send NUS to the world, and about all their colleges around the world.

The final activity for the day was a demonstration lab which was extremely fun, interesting, and informative, it was the best way to end the day. We got to play with liquid nitrogen to learn about superconductors, learnt about electricity and how lightning rods work, and many other simple but educational experiments.

I think that the main reason today was so enjoyable was because of the way in which everything was explained to us. Even though they were all extremely technical processes, they were explained was simple enough for undergraduates to understand. It was one thing that I found difficult with IMRE that it was explained in a way that only the more advanced students could understand. At NUS however, the way in which they explained everything, I believe any person could just about have gone on the tour with us and had a decent understanding of most of the processes. It really made me have a very high opinion of NUS and make me want to return sometime in the not too distant future.

NUS visit

Last night Nic and I found a little kitchenette at the accommodation, so this morning we had vegemite on toast for breakfast, it was nice to have something I usually have for breakfast at home. We met up with the rest of the group at Starbucks, and then caught the shuttle bus to the science facilities at NUS and had a quick snack at the foodcourt there.

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Next we met some students from NUS who are studying a very specialised degree, where they are hand picked to gain entry to the special science degree. It sounds like a very good program, along with their studies, they are assigned a mentor, under which they undertake research assignments.

We then went to CIBA, which is a multidisciplinary centre that uses high energy ion beams. We got to go down and have a look at the beam line, which was really cool. We were given talks by some of the professors there on what they utilise the beam lines for. Majority of the projects use the beam lines for proton bea, writing, which allows micro-nano structures to be produced in materials such as polymers and semiconductors, the projects were really interesting.

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We then got to see the graphene research facilities, which included a large clean room, this was also very interesting, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to go into the cleam room. We then went to the Quantum centre, where we had a tour of a lab where they are trapping atoms in a localised area in a vaccuum using, magnetic fields and also by cooling them to almost zero kelvin using lasers. We also got to see the facilities where they, make the chips for these experiments. I found this part of the tour particularly interesting.

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We then went and had lunch with the NUS students at a food court where I had some delicious mie goreng noodles. After lunch we went to the science demo lab, which was a fun experience, it was similar to a small version of science works. We got to play with superconductors which was awesome! Along with many other fun, interesting science phenomina. Eventually, we had to stop having fun and head back to our accommodation. All around, today was a very interesting, and informative day, and I discovered NUS has amazing research facilities and I would be very interesting on going on exchange here.