Read below about Sarah’s Summer 2023 GLOBE journey in Singapore!
Sarah spent her summer after her junior year conducting research at the National University of Singapore.
Sarah’s Travel Diary:
This past summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the SERIUS research engineering program at the esteemed National University of Singapore. This was a life-changing opportunity for me to conduct research at one of the world’s top research universities and experience the breathtaking city of Singapore. I had the chance to research how cryogenic treatment can improve material properties in magnesium alloys (Mg2SiO2), such as corrosion properties and compressive residual stress, under the expert guidance of Professor Manoj Gupta and my mentor Michael Johanes.
As someone who aspires to one-day help engineer medical devices and implants, I wonder about the materials that are used to develop these devices, such as implants that last decades inside the human body, leading to the need for understanding properties and how these materials withstand specific physiological conditions and the wear and tear that occurs over time. The program gave me valuable engineering and research experience due to its hands-on nature and potential biomedical application. Being able to have that hands-on experience for myself made me feel like I was taking one step closer to making real-world differences and insights in mechanical engineering and materials science for such possible applications, including hands-on experience using advanced tools such as optical and scanning electron microscopes, loading tests, and damping tests.
Beyond academic and professional growth, my time in Singapore was a life-changing adventure. Being able to experience the ethereal and innovative garden cities, modern skylines, and diverse and delicious foods of Singapore was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For starters, the second I stepped off the plane, I was greeted with a 40-meter indoor waterfall inside the airport, which really set the tone for what was to come. In Singapore, I was able to marvel at the “Supertrees” at Gardens by the Bay, wander through the unique orchids of Singapore’s Botanical Garden, savor vibrant food festivals with varieties of halal options, and travel from one end of Singapore to another on the MRT train in just one day. Every day I’d wake up with either a sunny, picturesque sky or raging thunderstorms. While the whimsical weather was always dramatically alternating from hot, scorching sun to heavy, torturous rain and was constantly leaving me frantically reaching for either an umbrella or a sunhat, it was a piece of Singapore I found myself surprisingly missing!
My favorite part of my routine was waking up every morning at NUS before heading to the lab and enjoying a traditional Singaporean breakfast. For just a few bucks I’d enjoy a Kaya (coconut jam) toast served alongside soft-cooked eggs and Teh-C, tea with evaporated milk. Afterwards, my walk to the lab would always filled with chickens clucking, cicadas buzzing, and snails magically appearing from last night’s rain. And then, right as the lab day concluded, I’d embark on a new corner of Singapore. Some days it was late-night Hawker Centers, while others were watching the mesmerizing sunsets at Sentosa Beach. But no matter where I went, I was always met with a beautiful landscape, with tall buildings and roads integrated and clothed with gardens of nature.
One of my fondest memories was hopping on a 9-hour bus ride to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a few days and celebrating Eid-Al Adha for the first time away from home. On Eid day, I was able to witness a vibrant and culturally diverse Muslim community and marvel at the breathtaking National Mosque of Malaysia adorned with intricate architecture, 13 acres of lush garden, and balconies showcasing Kaula Lumpur’s skyline. As a Muslim, I have never encountered a mosque so grand. During this time, I was able to meet with a fellow Cal student from Malaysia where we ate the iconic Malaysian dish laksa, the spicy and delicious coconut noodle soup, saw the Royal Palace, and strolled through local flea markets. This experience made this trip more meaningful and I am grateful I was able to make the most out of spending a holiday away from home by being able to explore the beauty and vibrancy of Malaysia.
This research program supported by the GLOBE Scholarship Fund has left me wanting to travel more to explore engineering in different cultures and environments, and I especially hope to see how engineering and innovation vary across countries and on a global scale. This scholarship provided me with the means to travel to a country I have long dreamed of visiting, Singapore, and is an experience I will never forget.
A view of Singapore with friends and fellow engineers!