Thursday, June 9, 2011

Reflections for Day 1-Tan Jian Hui

Key learning points from each session: 
1. Importance of Water - Dirty and Clean
There are a lot of global water problems that many are not aware of. This calls for a lot of actions in order to sustain our current quality of water in developed countries and improve the drinking resources in developing countries. When Prof Ng showed us some statistical data about water, it is baffling to realise that the most basic human requirements are lacking in some parts of the world. In addition, the quality of water plays a humongous impact on both the environment and people. Some harbour deadly diseases which cause for more than 3 million fatalities. Others do not have proper sanitation. And the unimaginable fact that we humans taint this precious resource ourselves. We get carried away when technology is improving in such an inconceivable way that we forget about the destruction left behind as a by-product. Much has to be done for the survival of our human race. Much like Prof Ng, he has been researching on sewage treatment and studying ways to  engineer better technologies to help these people in need. This is where engineering is used to improve lives and even save them. 
  1. Revolution of Microelectronics Technology
As Prof Yeo advanced with a slight introduction of chips and the development of programming computers as well as a little history, I became aware that Singapore is actually the centre of a fast-growing industry. Especially integrated circuits and BRAINWAVE, an acronym. As the name of the presentation suggests, how can electronics be micro-sized? Through the integration of electronics and biology, nano-scaled technology will emerge. Programmable blood, electronic contact lens and brain implants are just some of the possible breakthroughs in the near future. Thus, all these technologies, that improvises our daily lives, are powered by engineering. As Prof Yeo presented, the twenty-first Century holds many engineering challenges for the ever-growing population of the world. And a quote I have taken away from the presentation, “Engineering is not about making a difference in others’ lives, you are improving yours as well.”
  1. Innovative breakthroughs in Nano-Science and Nanotechnology
As derived from the heading, this talk was based around the revolutionary application of nano-technology of the products made today, in the fields of Nano-technology, Biotechnology and Defense Technology. Nano-technology base around a fact, that a smaller size for a fixed volume will result in a larger surface area. Prof Ma also explained nano-materials, some of which are natural or man-made. Shark’s teeth, for example, are natural nano-material coating. Nano-structures, classified as 0D, 1D and 2D, are particles, wires and films respectively. Some innovative products that apply nanotechnology are carbon nano-tubes, quantum dots and nano-particles. Additionally, with the development of nanotechnology, armour can literally stop bullets of a particular range of diameter. New and enhanced armour can boost a greater camouflage. Therefore these advancements will significantly improve our future. 
  1. IT for Animation
Animation making is really tedious, therefore animations are difficult to produce. It involves a lot of processes in order to make a good animation, such as storyboarding and drawing countless frames. We had a little of this experience from our Secondary 1 ADMT project, however, to really make a digital animation, there is still digital painting and composition and shooting. Furthermore, it demands a lot of physics and mathematical concepts applied. Geometric modelling like vector paces, Calculus including functions and integrals and the complex formulas for the different types of lighting in an animation. Not to mention that 2D animations are way tougher to create than 3D animations, which was quite surprising, as it is costly and labour intensive. Hence we should respect their work by not taking it for granted and appreciating them. 
  1. Disappearing glaciers, rising sea levels, and why gravity is even more important than you think 
I learnt that the phenomenon, that ice glaciers increase the sea level around it, is something new that I learnt. This process is called “self-attraction and loading” Sea level rise will not be the same everywhere. And therefore sea level rise will be highest farthest away from the glaciers. As ice glaciers melt, the pressure of the crust is slowly released so water flows away from the glaciers. It was a highly captivating presentation, with its many diagrams to better help us understand. Especially the work of Prof Emma Hill, it is really fascinating and intrigues me. A point to note, the title of the presentation is ingeniously crafted in my opinion. It is definitely different from other titles and sounds more appealing and interesting.
Deepest impression: 
The first plenary session left a deeper impression on me than others. It was certainly a good starter for a great eye-opener into NTU. Moreover, the professor is also likeable and it left a good impression on me. On top of that, what I really like about all the plenary sessions, is that all of them are related to engineering. Many fields, of which I never thought were associated with engineering, were in fact another sub-group of engineering. It is not necessarily just electronics and machines like its name imply. There are just so many opportunities out there in the discipline of engineering. Plus, we can improve the lives of others, make a difference and most importantly give back to the society. 

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