Having spent the second year of my BEng in Medical Engineering at the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore was an experience that allowed me to develop myself academically and personally in different ways. Singapore is a melting pot of many Asian cultures and a country in which western modern lifestyles meet ancient Chinese traditions. NTU as a University attracts students from all over Southeast Asia and has an extensive exchange program with more than 100 different nations participating. These factors contributed to the interesting and inspiring time I had during this year in Singapore.
The Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU) is one of the most prestigious educational institutes in the world. Currently ranked as the fourth best University in the world for Engineering, it is a great place to get an insight into not only a top University but one that applies Asian teaching methods to achieve this level of excellency. In general Engineering modules at NTU are taught using a much more methodological approach, rather than teaching general concepts, professors teach quite precisely how one gets from A to B by following certain steps. The course structure was like the one at the University of Surrey. Each module had about two lecture hours a week and an additional tutorial hour. All the lectures at NTU get recorded and are easily accessible online. This is convenient for students and makes it easier to catch up if one missed a lecture.
My favourite module in the whole year was Cardiovascular Engineering. The course is taught by an American professor who indeed manages to inspire students with his teaching style. He created an awareness how many challenges the cardiovascular network bears for biomedical engineers and especially how important the field becomes with an aging population. Due to my high interest in the field and my performance in the course, the teaching professor, Dr. Kwan, offered me to work in his lab during my second semester. Being a member of his research group was from an academic perspective the most valuable experience of my time in Singapore. It was my first contact with the world of research and I enjoyed the atmosphere and the work so much that it made me reconsider my career plan. Dr. Kwan’s research group aims to develop non-invasive methods that localize drug therapy. The researchers mainly focus on using stimulus-responsive strategies to provide therapy across a broad range of illnesses, there is an extensive explanation of the research aims on the website www.kwanrg.org. My task was it to support a Chinese PhD student working on the production of gold nanocones which will be used as a cavitation agent in the future. The internship enabled me to pick up relevant wet-lab techniques and taught me how to operate advanced laboratory equipment such as probe sonicator, centrifuge, SEM and TEM. But most importantly I experienced how it is to work in an international research team which obviously offers opportunities but also bears challenges.
A great advantage was that we all had different backgrounds and went through different educational systems. Therefore, each one of us normally had distinct ways of approaching a problem which enabled us to find quite unique solutions as a team for any challenges that came up. But on the other hand, the language barrier prevented efficient forthcoming at times. I didn’t really expect language to be an issue at all but now I must admit that even if everyone speaks English it can be challenging to make sure that things come across the right way. And on top of that to make sure that everyone understands agreements properly and complies to them is not as simple as it seems. However, my overall experience working in this team of seven different nationalities was great, conversations were always inspiring and instructive.
There is no doubt that this year in Singapore has enable me to pick up a whole range of new social and academic skills. Herewith I would like to thank the Santander grant committee for their contribution to the memorable and fruitful time I spent during my exchange year.