Nele Bittel (Department of Aeronautics), NUS Summer 2014
Between July and September of this year I spent nine weeks in Singapore, working at the National University Singapore (NUS) as a research intern. This was a very rewarding and interesting experience granting me insight into research life and at the same time an opportunity to explore a foreign country. The exchange program to NUS was a very valuable experience. I carried out research in the field of aerodynamics- more specifically insect flight. During my time I was given a lot of freedom in how and when to conduct my research and was well integrated into the entire research group. Singapore had a lot to offer: A diversity in culture, food and population that I had never experienced before. By working with local and foreign researchers I learned about very different perspectives of Singapore. I am very grateful for the experience and left having the feeling I learned a lot from an intercultural perspective and at the same time felt that I achieved valuable results for the research group.
Not knowing exactly what my research project would entail, I was given several research papers giving me an overview over the entire research field before my arrival. On my first day of work I was shown around the lab and introduced to the topic of my research. My research is meant to be part of a PHD-thesis of my direct contact person in my laboratory. During the 8 weeks I conducted experimental and computational analysis. During my research project I firstly learned about the general research field. Reading many papers and exploring the different researchers in this field was a new experience for me as this is hardly of importance during the first two years of an engineering degree. Furthermore I spent my first week reading into the theory and methods behind computational fluid dynamics, a topic of high importance in aeronautics that I had not yet worked with. This theoretical background helped me to not treat the software as a black box. The new research and software I was introduced to will hopefully be of advantage especially during my final year project and at the beginning of my working life.
As I have only been able to explore parts of Thailand in south-east Asia before my arrival I was keen to see as much as possible of Singapore and the neighbouring countries. I was able to visit Malaysia and Indonesia, both with local friends, enhancing my understanding of the entire area. Especially the special role Singapore plays in that region became very obvious to me. During my stay, together with some local researchers and mainly other UK and US interns, I got to see many parts of Singapore. Firstly and most importantly the main pass-time of Singaporeans seems to be eating. Given the culinary diversity this very enjoyable for us. I learned a lot about Singapore, the general culture and politics there during my time.
Overall I am very grateful to have been part of this valuable experience. I can conclude that I now seriously consider an academic career or at least the option of doing a PHD. I enjoyed my time in Singapore a lot and can conclude that academically NUS is a good place to work and Singapore generally seems like a great place to be employed but I cannot imagine living there in the future given my very different outlook on life.
"I am very grateful for the experience and left having the feeling I learned a lot from an intercultural perspective and at the same time felt that I achieved valuable results for the research group"