DBEN Freshmen Orientation
DBEN Freshman Orientation Day is organised by SP BES committee members yearly to provide a platform for students across different levels to interact, promote a sense of community and inculcate empathy in Bioengineering students.
Outdoor Wheelchair Services
Staff and students from MAE had volunteered their time to repair and refurbish wheelchairs for the folks from the Kembangan-Chai Chee Seniors Activities Centre. Such project is very meaningful as the Bioengineering students could put into practice what they have learnt in classroom on mobility aid devices into practice. The staff and students also gained useful hands on skills in wheelchair repair, by working with more experienced volunteers from our external partner (Kampung Senang).
Snow Storms, Warm People and … Cement
SP students go on overseas community service trips to learn to be socially responsible and involved in the lives of other peoples. Read about one of their trips to Shangri-La, China.
Student’s journal, Day Seven of Operation Shangri-La 2:
“Have you ever seen an approaching snow storm? It’s something that leaves you with mixed feelings. It washes everything in the distance into whiteness, and it fills you with this internal panic that screams, ‘OMG. IT’S COMING OVER.’ I want to continue watching it, because it’s so beautiful… In a scary kind of way. But I feel at the same time that I should run away.
“So we ended up running away.
“Okay. Brisk walking, to be exact.
“I never thought snow would hurt. :/” –Soong Jia Min, final-year Diploma in Media and Communication (DMC) student
Snow storms, construction works, and the warm hospitality of a Tibetan community were just some vivid experiences engraved in the memories of 24 Singapore Polytechnic (SP) students. For two weeks, they stayed in snowy Ringha Valley in Shangri-La. Their community service and cultural learning trip involved building modern toilets for their host village, entertaining children in the village nursery and forging friendships with the villagers.
Together with the locals, they built three toilets within a week. They dug soil to prepare the foundations, shifted rocks, mixed cement and laid bricks. Jia Min was greatly impressed by a man (who they affectionately called “Shifu”, which means “teacher” in Chinese) who worked with them. She said: “We had to move stray rocks, but the only ones I could move by myself were those that spanned a length of less than 12 centimetres. Shifu was 60 years old, yet he could move super heavy rocks as if they were little pebbles. During a dinner, I asked him about it and he told me he was so strong partly because he used to be a soldier. This man was 60, yet he was stronger than all of us combined. And he had such a good personality that he never complained though he was doing so much work. I really learned something from him that day.”
Each day, they dug, lifted and mixed amidst freezing cold air, with brief spells of snow fall and snow storms occurring every few days. No surprise then that the work left them with huge appetites. Breakfasts were a mishmash of Chinese and Western delights: fried dough fritters, man toubuns, honey, Nutella, fried rice and eggs. The students took turns to cook as well, preparing foods such as dumplings and stir-fried vegetables.
Good food wasn’t the only thing keeping them warm and energised, however. The kind hospitality of their hosts also made the wintry conditions bearable. “Our lady host, Xin Ru, is an angel on earth. One night, right before we slept, she and her family came in with a tall pile of quilts,” said Jia Min, “We were really worried they wouldn’t have anything left for themselves. She was always so kind and giving that we never knew if she was sacrificing for us. That was when we first experienced her gracious hospitality that never seemed to end.”
Determined to reciprocate the goodwill, they put all their energy into cultural performances and Singaporean food dishes meant for their hosts. They also sculpted balloons and planned games for children in the village’s nursery. Sim Xi Zhe, second-year Diploma in Creative Writing for TV and New Media (DTVM) student, said: “Although the games were simple, the children enjoyed themselves and lasting memories were forged. In a decade’s time, many of us would probably have forgotten the finer details of today, but the children could remember it for a long time to come.”
After 12 days of huddling together next to a fire for warmth, sharing steaming-hot meals and learning from each other, the time came to part ways. After packing up, devouring their last fried eggs and snapping as many pictures as they could, the students exchanged gifts and hugs with their gracious hosts before saying their goodbyes. For the last two days of the trip, the students explored beautiful towns and cities near the village.
The experience in Shangri-La definitely left its mark on them. Final-year Diploma in Accountancy (DAC) student Deborah Liu said: “The moments that I recall having laughed so hard with the villagers and amongst ourselves; moments that left me questioning where was the source of the endless kindness and hospitality I received; moments when the children greeted us with genuine, warm smiles – Operation Shangri-La 2 was time that I wouldn’t have spent any other way.”
Austin Cheah, Diploma in Energy Systems and Management (DESM) recent graduate, wrote a poem about the experience:
“Operation Shangri-La is over & done
Undeniably we had loads of fun
Though the work was intense & all
In the end we stand proud & tall.
“See every sight & hear every sound
Taste all flavours, smell the scents around
Envision the impossible, watch it come true
Many surprises the future holds for you.”
Besides their main coursework, engineering students also get opportunities to work on technology with medical functions to help the injured rehabilitate their bodies or assist the elderly in daily life.
The SP Centre for Applications in Rehabilitation Engineering (SP CARE) is a technology centre where students and staff work together to research new healthcare solutions.
Recently, it handed over a new set of completed rehabilitative and assistive technologies to healthcare institutions to help injured and disabled patients. Eleven different projects created by SP students and staff were received by organisations such as the Singapore National Eye Centre and Tan Tock Seng Hospital, who collaborate with SP CARE to explore new possibilities in healthcare.
One such project, the Motivational Companion (MoCo), is a therapeutic robot dog that can respond to a person’s movements and voice with its own movements and barking. It is made to be a source of fun and interaction for the elderly in nursing homes that don’t allow real pets inside. MoCo aims to provide psychological and emotional engagement to them to help alleviate potential problems of depression and dementia partly caused by lack of interaction with others.
After 20 years, SP CARE has been recently revamped and renamed New SP Care. It will now be a one-stop centre that will also develop innovative solutions in the areas of health and nutrition, optometry and vision science, and diagnostic and medical devices, besides assistive and rehabilitative technologies.
In the Engineering Challenge, students working in teams will learn to plan, design, and construct an engineering prototype, communicate their design ideas, and work collaboratively and effectively in a group to solve a small healthcare problem. The goal of the challenge is to ignite DBEN student’s interest to engineering and make them believe that they can make a difference to the society as a bioengineer.
Organised Learning Express (LeX) Programme
12 projects were conceived by the students taking part in the LeX programme, which involved visits to Jogjakarta (Indonesia) and Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam). 3 projects were implemented via FYP. They are namely:
- Cassava Crumbs Squeezing Machine (Jogjakarta, Indonesia)
- Pedal pump, water Filtering system (Buriram, Thailand)
- Water Filtration system (Buriram, Thailand)