We heard you visited Stuttgart, Wolfsburg and Frankfurt to learn about the automotive industry in Germany. Tell us more!German engineering deserves its reputation. I visited the automotive companies Porsche AG, Daimler AG, Robert Bosch GmbH and Volkswagen AG, and was very impressed by their operations. Most of them manufacture the cars themselves – turning raw materials into incredible machines – and do test runs straight after. As the cars are produced and assembled in the same place, they can easily repair or replace any faulty parts.
What else did you learn from the trip?I spent a day at Hochschule Esslingen, or the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences, which has a very strong automotive engineering programme. Even at university level, students don’t pay fees as public education in Germany is free. The idea is that everyone should have equal access to education. Isn’t that great?
Tell us one thing that you enjoyed most about the trip.I really liked visiting the automotive museums, like the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart. There were many rare cars and historical models on display, which helped me understand how automotive technology has evolved over the years.
Most important lesson that you picked up on is…See the world while you’re young! This trip is the first time that I’ve ever been out of Asia! In a way, it was like a wake-up call for me. I realise I should find more opportunities to travel, especially when I’m young.
Kenneth Tan, Engineering Science
What did you do in your eight days in Tokyo?As part of the immersion programme, we spent quite a bit of the trip at the Tokyo Metropolitan College of Industrial Technology. A visit to the hangars of Haneda Airport allowed us to see the planes Japan Airlines uses up close, and learn about how their engines worked. We also learnt origami and had nagashi somen, which is noodles flowing down a long bamboo pole that we had to catch with our chopsticks!
Noodles? Why not sushi?We had ramen for almost every meal because it was one of the cheapest food we could find there. Japanese food in Japan is actually about the same price as in Singapore, but the quality of it far surpasses what Singapore has to offer.
What did you do there?I spent two weeks in Brisbane on a study trip focusing exclusively on aerospace. Every day, we were at Aviation Australia for practical sessions. We also visited the Boeing Training & Flight Services Centre, where we were taken on a tour by an ex-Qantas Chief Pilot and even got the chance to fly a Boeing 737 in an aircraft simulator!
What else can you tell us about the experience there? At Aviation Australia, many of us got hands-on practice on two huge airliners, the Fokker 50 and Boeing 727, for the first time. We turned up the engines of the Boeing 727 to their starting speeds, topped up the planes’ hydraulic fluids and climbed into the tail section of the Fokker 50. All the aerospace concepts I learnt really came alive during this once-in-a-lifetime trip!
What was your favourite memory of the trip?We were privileged to witness magnificent fireworks during our study trip as it coincided with the annual Brisbane Festival. Talk about bringing home some dazzling memories!
Benjamin Wong, Electrical Engineering
We heard you went Bochum University. What did you do there?I was part of a team that was tasked to work on a solar car. There were different parts to the project and I was assigned to do programming for the car. It was a great experience working in the university as I felt that my engineering knowledge was really put to the test there. Everyone else knew what they were doing, so I had to, too.
What was it like being in a classroom on the other side of the world?Very different! I feel German students have much more initiative when it comes to learning. They don’t wait around for an answer if they don’t know what it is. They’re very vocal and not afraid to ask and air any doubts they have.Bochum is a university town, which must have been very different from a bustling city.There wasn’t very much to do there in terms of entertainment. But I made many German friends who showed me around the area. They brought me to old coal mines, museums, and the Berlin Wall! I even went around Europe, so I got to see London, Paris, and Amsterdam, just to name a few places!
What did you do there?We went on a study trip to the University of Science and Technology in Tianjin. When we were not busy taking lessons, we would do some sightseeing.
So where have you visited?We climbed the Great Wall. As an engineering student, it really amazed me that they managed to build a structure this magnificent without the use of advanced machinery and technology. We also visited Confucius' hometown, Qufu, and The Forbidden City.
We heard you had sampling of exotic food on your to-do list.China is known for some of the world’s exotic cuisines. So when I was in Tianjin and Beijing, I tried snakes and insects. You should give some of them a shot!Any travel tips to share?Avoid exceeding your flight baggage allowance – don't be "kiasu" and bring extra clothes! You’ll definitely do some shopping there, so if there's anything missing, you can buy it.
Benjamin Oh, Automation & Mechatronic Systems
There's nothing like setting a crazy goal to stretch your limits. Tell us more about your trip!We hiked up Kota Kinabalu in Sabah as part of an adventure-cum-leadership training trip with The Christieara Programme (TCP), NP’s very own talent development programme.
What else did you gain from the trip?While experiencing the beautiful scenery, I got to understand and appreciate the culture. The Sabahan culture is completely different from that of Peninsular Malaysia's.
What would be the most unforgettable experience?The most memorable part of the trip was reaching the breathtaking summit of Mount Kinabalu. The scenery was spectacular.
It must be really challenging to scale the summit. What would be the must-bring food for the hike?Bring Oreo cookies! Somehow, they taste different on the way up the mountain and on the way down.
We heard you had an unusual overseas community service trip. Tell us more!We spent two weeks harvesting sugarcane in Pong Song Village in Laos! For Singaporeans, sugarcane is a drink you order at the hawker centre but in Laos, it’s a plant you harvest. As if that's not unusal enough, I also learnt to make charcoal from scratch!
So what exactly did you do?We cut down the sugarcane using a local knife made from unexploded bomb shells, and bundled them up for sale. To make charcoal, we cut up tree trunks and transported them to a cave where they would be left to burn for a week before being collected as charcoal.”
What else can you tell us about the experience there? Bathing in the Nam Song river every day was a great way to bond with the village children. We had a water tank in our bathroom, but it was more refreshing to jump into the cool river water instead.What was your biggest takeaway?I’m inspired by the locals to live each day to its fullest, even when life is tough. The locals are humble and hardworking – as farmers, they worked daily from morning till night, but never complained.