By Lim Pei Ying
It has been a little over a week since SSEF 2016 and much of the buzz and excitement from the event has cooled down. But for two students, the journey has just begun. Meet Victor and Brandon of M16607, whose research project prototyping a more environmentally-friendly method of industrial waste water treatment has just been selected to represent Singapore at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2016. From serious thoughts on their research project and the competition to more light-hearted advice for the juniors, check out what they have to say below!
- Congratulations! How do you feel winning the top prize and being selected to represent NUS High and Singapore at the ISEF?
Victor: It feels unreal, being able to represent our school and Singapore at an international level. I’m honoured to have this opportunity, and obviously very happy to win the top prize.
Brandon: WHOO FREE TRIP TO US AND ARIZONA! But in all seriousness, it came as quite a pleasant surprise and I’m really honoured to be representing Singapore and NUS High at ISEF.
- Could you share with us more about your research project?
Both: Our research project is regarding wastewater treatment, specifically industrial wastewater. There are environmental engineering processes in which electricity and a fair bit of chemistry are used to treat these [kinds of] wastewater. What we did was to design a reactor that can better use UV, which is present in sunlight, to aid said processes, making the treatment more eco-friendly and efficient.
- What do you think is the distinguishing factor in your research that has attracted the attention of the judges at SSEF? What do you think makes your project different from others?
Brandon:I believe that SSEF prefers projects that have the potential to greatly benefit mankind, so projects that fall under environmental or biomedical engineering may have a slight advantage in that regard. Also the judges were very engaged during the presentations and when they questioned us, it was to clarify rather than to find flaws in the project, contrary to others’ experience.
Victor: I personally think it’s just about the ingenuity behind the project, to do something in a manner one has not thought of.
- What were the difficulties you faced in your research or at the competition?
Both: To obtain the final design of our reactor was not easy at all. We had much painful iteration with no results, and morale was very low because of the lack of returns from effort put in. Luckily we have a great team in which we were there for each other many a times, and to make the research journey so much more fun. At this moment in time we would like to give a shout-out to our third member, Tng Jun Wei. He had not been able to participate with us together for SSEF because of the new restriction that everyone can only submit one project, and he decided to choose to present his first project due to obligations.
- If there was something you could have done better, what would it be?
Both: Since our research was dealing with relatively new technology, we were not sure how we could incorporate it into wastewater treatment and thus it came with its share of failures and hours spent wondering why the experiment was not working. If we had been able to preempt this, we could have saved many hours and used it to further our research.
- What are your thoughts and views on research based on your experience thus far?
Brandon: I feel that research is essential, since we can push the limits of science and technology, which lets us give people a better standard of living and more conveniences. My research projects thus far have all been engineering projects, and while I have not made any groundbreaking discoveries, it is equally important since it forms the “bridge” between scientists’ discoveries and industrial/commercial use.
Victor: I think [while] research can get very draining, [it] can also be rewarding. When you create a new design or made minor discoveries, you know that you are already providing new knowledge to the scientific community.
- Having been given affirmation and compliments for your research, what’s next for you?
Victor: For my life, I think my next two years has already been set for NS ( I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not). I will spend my next few months of school completing some projects I told teachers I would do, as well as contemplate hard on what course to take in university.