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Take the opportunity
to join the CE Club,
a vibrant and closely
knitted student
community, who
devoted significant
voluntary efforts
year in year out to
organize fun and
meaningful activities
for all of you.


n behalf of the department, I would like to extend a warm welcome to

the new students to our CEE family. The past academic year has been

fruitful for the department; we have climbed in QS World University

Ranking in Civil and Structural Engineering from 11th placing in 2013 to
7th placing in 2014 and almost all of our graduates in 2013 have secured employment
within six months after graduation. The department has grown in strength with
the addition of 5 faculty members to strengthen our ongoing transformation in
teaching and research. We are also very proud to see a distinguished member of
our CEE family, Professor Cheong Hin Fatt, being appointed as Emeritus Professor.
Professor Cheong has been part of our CEE family for more than 40 years. This
rarefied honorary title is conferred in recognition of his distinguished scholarship and
conspicuous service to NUS. Professor Cheong will continue to be active in the
CEE department to share with our students his wealth of experience.
The delivery of quality education and mentorship is a core mission of our department.
New initiatives are being pursued to build stronger links with the industry which
will help in securing more internship and industrial attachment placement with CEE
firms, increasing employability, and increasing awareness among the students to make
informed career decisions when they graduate. The department is also strengthening
our student mentorship scheme. Do reach out to your mentors who are also reaching
out to you. A knock on their door is all it takes to reach out to them. They will be most
delighted to share their experiences and provide insights on module selection, career
choices and many more. In addition, the department has also attracted new donations
for student scholarships and awards to promote scholastic endeavors in civil and
environmental engineering.
For the freshmen, enrich your experience in the university and your 4 years in CEE
can do more than what you can imagine. Take the opportunity to join the CE Club,
a vibrant and closely knitted student community, who devoted significant voluntary
efforts year in year out to organize fun and meaningful activities for all of you. I hope
that students from different cohorts could get to know each other better through these
activities and the senior students could extend a helping hand to younger students in
times of need. It could be answering a simple question on curriculum or lending a
listening ear to problems encountered. Supporting and caring for each other is what
a family is all about. For the graduating cohort, I trust you will make a difference to
engineering and the society. I am proud of all of you and I will hope to meet everyone
during our commencement to celebrate your achievements. You should continue to be
active as alumni members and foster closer links with your alma mater.
I look forward to meeting you personally in many of the events that the CE club has
planned for you for the coming new academic year!
NUS Ci v i l Eng i neeri ng Cl ub Year book

hen I started sourcing out contents for the publication, I had this
objective in my mind: when the readers receive this magazine, I
want them to be able to feel a sense of ownership towards it.

The best way to do it is by inviting students to contribute their experiences to the


magazine. When students eventually read about themselves or their peers in print, they
will be able to relate well and have a better connection to these articles. With the help
of supportive CVE seniors who had took time out of their busy schedules to write their
stories, I am able to piece together this magazine, which can thus be aptly described as
a magazine of the students, by the students, for the students.
This magazine can be categorised into 3 main sections:
1. Various CE Club activities organised during the past academic year. Glancing
through the beautiful photo collages, you will be able to relive the unforgettable
moments during SHD 2013 and CEE Day 2014, eliciting the nostalgia buried
deep inside you.
2. Industrial attachments of our very own CE undergraduates. I believe that
many juniors, like myself, would like to know more about the different internship
experiences of our seniors. These information will be valuable when you are
applying for either VIP or IAP.
3. Overseas opportunities that are available to you. Since there is such strong
emphasis on the need for a global education these days, I hope that the SEP and
Operation Orion articles will encourage you to venture abroad and develop a
global vision.
Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude to all the people who have contributed
and helped in the making of this magazine. To all the readers, I hope that you enjoy
reading this magazine, and that the articles in this publication would be informative
and useful to you.

Lim Wei Boon

Publication Director

NUS Civil Engineering Club


16th Management Committee

NUS Ci v i l Eng i neeri ng Cl ub Year book

he Department of Civil & Environmental



Engineering (CEE), formed on 27 September

2010, is an integration of the Department of Civil

Engineering (CE) and the Division of
Environmental Science & Engineering (ESE). Under
the current leadership Distinguished Professor Phoon
Kok Kwang and his new Department Management
Committee, CEE strives to prepare students to deal
with major engineering challenges of the future in a
sustainable manner by providing quality, innovative
educational programmes and offering multidisciplinary
research opportunities.

OUR VISION
A leading Civil and Environmental
Engineering Department that innovates
for a better future.

OUR MISSION
To be a leading Civil and Environmental
Engineering Department providing quality
education and leadership in research,
development and application of technology.

http://www.eng.nus.edu.sg/cee/

DEPARTMENT
MANAGEMENT
COMMITTEE
Head of Department:
l Distinguished

Deputy Heads of Department:

l A/Prof
l Prof
l Prof

Lee Der-Horng (Research)

l A/Prof

Rajasekhar Bala (Special Projects)

Associate Heads of Department:


l A/Prof
l Dr

Ng How Yong (Administration)

Pang Sze Dai (Academic Matters)

Members
l Prof

Lee Fook Hou

l Prof

Koh Chan Ghee

l Prof
l Prof

Liew Jat Yuen, Richard


Ong Say Leong

l A/Prof

NUS Civ il E n gin e eri n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

Ong Khim Chye, Gary (Finance & Administration)

Somsak Swaddiwudhipong (Academic Matters)

l A/Prof

Prof Phoon Kok Kwang

Hu Jiangyong
Qian Xudong

http://ceclub.sg/
https://www.facebook.com/ceclub


he NUS Civil Engineering (CE) Club

is an affiliated club of the NUS Students

Engineering Club. The NUS CE

Club looks specifically into the
wellbeing and interests of the Civil
Engineering undergraduates.

OUR VISION

To serve all student affairs, welfare and


career development interests of all Civil
Engineering undergraduates.

OUR MISSION
Connect 4:

Inter-Connect; Inter-Department Connect; Inter-Local


Connect; Inter-Global Connect

Inter-connect

Fostering strong ties between the different levels of Civil


Engineering students.

Inter-department connect

Working hand-in-hand Department and other clubs to


bring about greater benefits for all Civil Engineering
students.

Inter-local connect

To heighten the social awareness of Civil Engineering


students about local community and also awareness
about the local Civil Engineering industry.

Inter-global connect

Like our Facebook page to


receive the latest updates on
CE Club.

To bring students out of their comfort zone and into


other parts of the world in order to give students a global
perspective of the Civil Engineering industry and social
issues.

NUS Ci v i l Eng i neeri ng Cl ub Year book


ointly organised by the Civil and Environmental Engineering Club, the SHD

started off with an exhibition, followed by informative and interesting talks

on fire safety and hazards, and depression. There were games and

quizzes, and Co-op vouchers were given out to those who were
able to answer the quiz questions correctly. Lucky draw winners
walked away with prizes that include thumb drives, headphones, portable
mouse and charger. Staff and students also interacted with each other while
enjoying the refreshment after the event.

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SHD Day 2013

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SHD Day 2013

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SHD Day 2013

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NU S C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

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CEE Day 2014

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NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

CEE Day 2014

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CEE Day 2014

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CEE Day 2014

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CEE Day 2014

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CEE Day 2014

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23

An industrial site visit jointly organised by:

Cuthbert Yeo

verything seemed rushed when we all met near

the Thinklab because people were printing

their indemnity form at last minute. I was still

having my Sarpino and the bus uncle was
calling to rush the group to EA foyer. Tak kin and I skipped
the 2184 lecture which was pretty risky because Prof Justin
would be touching on Simplex analysis. By the time
everyone boarded the bus, it was around 20 minutes late?!
The bus uncle Richard was commenting that we shouldnt
drag because these days, the bus drivers are tracked by
GPS on their iphones. :o
Pretty soon we reached our destination at DLeedon
condominium project along Fareer Road. Everyone seemed
to be pretty excited and we were directed to an air-con
meeting room. The foreign workers were super organized
upon our arrival, they brought in the umbrellas, boots
and helmets for us to wear in an orderly fashion. We were
received by 2 engineers Mr Alex Chua and Mr Yang. The
safety officer looked pretty cool because of all the heavy
gadgets, which include the carrabinars and safety hoists,
around his body. Mr Alex was the site manager from
main contractor and he led the briefing. He covered on the
complexity his team faced whilst building this whole

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NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

project, value engineering and the increasing importance


of the use of retaining wall. Thereafter Mr Yang touched
on the safety aspect before we were allowed on site.
The site itself was actually more or less
completed in the construction
phases with workers doing
tiling and furnishes. The
whole DLeedon project has
1703 units and 6 pent
houses, 2 carparks, 1 central
swimming pool and 8 units
of restaurants and retail
shops within it! :O The
whole project took around
45 months, which is super
fast! Everything from
developing to piling
and foundation to
surveying were all
local except the
architectural
design was by
the famous

Zaha Hadid Architects. They are


well-known for incorporating curvy
patterns into the designs of
numerous structural buildings.
Some of the problems that the team
faced were pretty challenging. For
instance, they had to remove an old
tower onsite, then subsequently build
and set up a beautiful show flat for
sales first! The major concern was
that there was a PUB main pipeline
smacked right at the centre which
they must not tamper with throughout
of DLeedon
the entire piling and foundation process
Key feature: The curvy exterior building design
and are
Kin
Tak
Chan
or they would risk getting fine. They had to insert
(Photos are taken by Cuthbert Yeo and
)
only.
se
strictly for acadamic reference and purpo
temporary supports and soil nails that runs 14.5m deep
around the PUB pipe to prevent that. Furthermore, there
are MRT track perpendicular to the PUB pipe. So before
consideration must also be given to storage space for
they pile they have to invite LTA people place safety checks
formation and not to mix them up during installation. Other
whilst piling for onsite inspections.
part of structures like bay window and balcony plasters were
still precasted then brought in onsite. One very interesting
As the structural buildings involved complicated curves,
thing was that because of the building curvature and
many of the units are independent. Hence, instead of
inclination, glass fibre reinforced concrete (GRC) had to be
using the precast concrete that is common in the industry,
employed. According to WIKI, the design of GRC panels
they have to especially cast the concrete to the required
proceeds from a knowledge of its basic properties under
specifications by the adjustable mould they brought. Interior
tensile, compressive, bending and shear forces, coupled
furnishes like windows, shower screens, wardrobes, and
with estimates of behavior under secondary loading effects
marble tiling had to be specially manufactured to onsite
such as creep, thermal response and moisture movement.
dimensions. What made matters more complicated was that
There are several differences between structural metal and
traditional scaffolding, formwork and table work would not
fiber-reinforced composites. For example, metals in general
be efficient.
exhibit yielding and plastic deformation, whereas most fiberreinforced composites are elastic in their tensile stress-strain
In-situ casting was definitely more cost effective. But,
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11

characteristics. Other important characteristics of many fiberreinforced composites are their non-corroding behavior, high
damping capacity and low coefficients of thermal expansion.
Just before we wanted to head out, it rained! >.< So we ended
up eating Polar cream puff cakes, curry puffs and sugar tarts
that were served to us with hot kopi! :3 Mr Alex then shared
more with us as the Year 4 students like Tuck Wen, Kwek
Yong, Jayna and Fam Xiao asked him a lot of questions
regarding geo-tech stuff I think.
Soon the rain lightened to a slight drizzle and we quickly
donned our safety boots to go onsite. The girls were
camwhoring like siao and I ended up as camaraman ha.
Pretty interesting as its my first. And I think should prepare
something as token of appreciation for the engineers in future
site visits. Anyway we did gave them huge round of applauses
for building such beautiful houses for Singaporeans to live
in. Both Tak kin and I hope everyone would learn something
from this trip. And that it gives greater meaning to what we are
studying in school. n

Construction: Example of green wall

(Photos are taken by Cuthbert Yeo and


Chan Tak Kin and are strictly for
acadamic reference and purpose only.)

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NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

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ite visits grant you the chance to

experience different civil engineering

professions of the real world early whi
le

you are still in your studies. By
participating in them, you will be able
to learn
about the safety practices implemente
d in
the workplace, understand various com
plex
engineering procedures being employe
d at the
construction site first hand, and get to
interact with
the key players in the civil industry.
So, are you
getting all excited and ready to join
us in our
next site visit? Do like our facebook
page

https://www.facebook.com/ceclub and

check your NUSmail regularly for

updates on our next site visit trip.

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NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

n Singapore, the civil engineering industry can be largely divided into 5 categories;
offshore, geotechnical, structural, transportation, and project management.
Want to search for companies in Singapore belonging to these 5 different categories?

You can visit http://www.bcadirectory.sg/ There, you can easily find out the
contact details of companies, and even the various types of building licenses they own.
In the next few pages, we will showcase our CVE undergraduates working as interns in
some of these specialised industries of civil engineering.
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15


n the following pages, we will showcase two of our CVE

undergraduates who were enrolled in EG3601 IAP. IAP is a 24
week internship programme that will qualifies the student for

12 MCs (UEM) upon successful completion. Other benefits of the
programmes include a maximum of 7 days of annual leave during the
24-week period, and a recommended monthly allowance of $800-$1000.
And just like EG3602 VIP, EG3601 IAP will give the participants a
taste of what the working world is like, and an early start into their civil
engineering careers in their future. For more information on EG3601
IAP, please visit http://www.eng.nus.edu.sg/undergrad/epmc/siap

Organisation : Woh Hup Pte Ltd


Area of Specialisation : Structural and Project Management
IAP period
: Jan June 2014

Q: Describe your process of applying for the IAP.


A: I applied IA through faculty. During the time of

Cao Qinghao
Year 4

application, there was a talk given by Woh Hup company.


I seized the chance to know more about the company and I
decided to apply for this company. My senior told me that
there are mainly two types of company for our major, one is
consultancy and the other is construction. I wanted to gain
site experience so that I would understand civil engineering
from the basic. There was no interview.

work. For office work, I did the marble dry lay schedule for
15 Cairnhill project. I also calculate the Constructability
Score for our project, as well as some other task like
calculating the point level of ramps and compiling the
progress report for 2-weekly progress meeting. For site
work, I follow site engineer do the inspection for slab,
beam, column, pile cap and retaining wall, as well as do the
rebar drilling and planting, water sump wall and built-up
pile precast formwork.

Q: What did you do during your IAP?

Q: Would you recommend the IAP to your peers?

A: My job is following the RTO with different inspections,

A: Even though the work is intensive and I sometimes felt

solving the problems commented by RTO and discussion


with architect and technical team for future work. My
internship is divided into two part, office work and site

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NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

exhausted, I found this internship is really worthy. It makes


me grown up. Hence, I would definitely recommend it to
my peers.

IAP@Woh Hup

Organisation : DP Engineers Pte Ltd


Area of Specialisation : Structural and Project Management
IAP period
: Jan June 2014

decided to do internship when I got into NUS. I think


that if the job is really related to our major and the
company is good, it would be better to spend more time

doing internship. On one hand, we can learn more and
get to apply our knowledge; on the other hand, the company
can get to know the needs of young undergraduates
nowadays. I applied for IA through the faculty at NUS EP
website during the first semester of my third year. We can

Hu Qingyi
Year 4

choose eight out of thirty companies in the list and wait


to be allocated. There was an interview, and the interview
made me know more about myself.
During the attachment, I was involved in several real
projects. My job scope can be broken down into these three
main categories; work-design, project management and site
practices. I have learnt a lot!! The company is a consultancy
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49

IAP@DP Engineers

company which provides civil and structural engineering


services, as well as M&E services. My job is to assist
the engineers in doing calculations, design, analysis and
documentation. I have done load taking using tributary
area method, computation of buildability score, pile design,
beam, column and slab design using BS code and CP 65,
footing and pile-cap design, drawing framing plan and
loading plan, preparing tender letter, answering RFI from
site. Interestingly, I was attached to the site @bedok for
half a month and thus, I had a chance to feel what it is like
working in a different environment. I learnt the process
of construction and understood how to operate various
construction equipment. At site, I worked closely with
the Resident Engineer and I learnt how to inspect rebar,
formwork, scaffold etc.

Marina Square, the place where my office is situated in.

Other than the technical stuff, the more important thing is


to manage my relationship with my colleagues. Working
with other interns (from NTU) helped me understand the
importance of teamwork and cooperation. While working
for the past 6 months in this environment, I have gained a
better understanding of responsibility and sacrifice, as well
as the meaning of care for people.
I am so grateful that I chose to do the IA. It was such a
fruitful journey that made me know more about the career
aspects of my major and love my major more. One sentence
to summarize my IA: A Chinese saying goes: Knowledge
is power! What I want to say is that knowledge is power
only when we use it and apply it. Please not only study hard,
study by heart!
Tips for those who want to or going to do IA: Whenever
there is a doubt, think first and dare to ask!

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This shows a soil collapse in between two stumps.


I suggested to use concrete to fill the hole that
was caused by the soil collapse, and the Resident
Engineer agreed with my answer.

or most of us, after completing 4 semesters of study,


we may spend our May-July holidays in an

organisation working as an intern under EG3602 VIP.
VIP is a 12-week internship programme that upon successful
completion, will grant the student 6MCs (UEM) which will
be graded on CS/CU basis. Additional benefits include a
maximum of 3 days of annual leave during the 12-week period,
and a recommended allowance of $800-$1000 per month.
Participants of VIP had claimed that it was a valuable working
experience to them, and indeed prepared them for the real
world in their near future. The VIP application exercise usually
starts in February. For more information on EG3602 VIP,
please visit http://www.eng.nus.edu.sg/undergrad/epmc/vip

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Organisation : National University of Singapore


Area of Specialisation : Geotechnical
VIP period
: 7 May 14 25 July 14


his internship is part of an ongoing NUS

research project titled Enabling Technologies for

Large-Scale Urban Subterranean Space Exploitation

in Soft Soil Conditions. I am fortunate to be able
to intern with the company of my best friends in these 3
months.

Cuthbert Yeo
Year 3

improve the ductility of cement-admixed SMC. The SMC


used in our project was retrieved from Little India and
Geylang Bahru.
The resonant column test is primarily used to determine the
strain-dependent shear modulus and damping ratio curves.
In this research project, a Drnevich Long-Tor resonant
column was used to measure the modulus and damping
characteristics of cement-admixed and fibre-reinforced
cement-admixed SMC.

As the finite land spaces of Singapore gets used up, the


Singapore Government is looking into underground space
as part of an alternative to Singapores future developments.
There are as many as 7 soil compositions types within
Singapore, of which, the commonest situation where local
contractors faced is the presence of Singapore Marine Clay
(SMC). The SMC is a very sticky situation to deal with
when piling becomes uncertain as to whether hard stratum
is reached; long and continuous effects of one dimensional
consolidation could cause undesired structural damages
to infrastructures. More importantly, the lumps of clay
are in fact brittle and could cause sudden failure to earth
retaining structures such as the unfortunate event of the
Nicoll Highway incident.
The scope of our research deals mainly with the evaluation
of the use of Ordinary Portland cement in improving its
dynamic properties of SMC through a series of resonant
column tests. Polypropylene fibres were also introduced to

Torsional excitation is produced by four annular permanent


magnets attached to the active-ends, passing through four
fixed coils of torsional coils. A function generator, acting
through a power amplifier, was used to induce sinusoidal
rotational motion in the active-end platen. The input voltage
to the driving coils is measured using a digital multimeter.
The response of the active-end platen system was then
measured using an accelerometer, whereby its output is
displayed on the oscilloscope. This is pretty similar to the
EG1109 lecture example by Prof Shim on the stack of coins
with glue and is then given torsion at the top end.

Drnevich Long-Tor
resonant column.

Pregnancy stretch marks u


on soil column found after
torsional excitation
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41

Experimental information on the cyclic stress-strain


relationships of cement-admixed and fibre-reinforced cementadmixed SMC is crucial for understanding its behavior under
small-strain vibrations. 2 important variables are: shear
modulus - the gradient of a line joining the points of maximum
and minimum shear stresses; the damping ratio - ratio between
the area enclosed by the hysteresis loop and the maximum
elastic energy that can be accumulated per cycle.
Characteristic
hysteresis loop
during one
loading cycle for
calculation of
shear modulus
and damping
ratio

Damping energy analyzed using Microsoft Excel


While the results found cannot be shown as it is
confidential and will be published in Dr Ho Jiahui
research papers in time to come, 2 of the most important
consideration of this entire project are:

Firstly, the amount of fibre to be added has to be done by


volume instead of by mass. While it is accurate to calculate
by mass to neglect the void ratios, it is more practical to
calculate by volume as the area of on-site construction
and the depth involved can be easily calculated instead of
digging up and weighing the soil of the whole construction
site involved.
u

Largest lissajous figure at bottom right hand corner of the


oscilloscope which represents resonance occurring where
input frequency matches the natural frequency of the fibre
reinforced cement admixed SMC

Secondly, while it is easy to mix soil with cement through


the use of grouting, there are currently no available
equipment to evenly spread out the polymer fibres so that
it is mixed homogenously and in the desired proportion to
the amount of water and cement added till date.

Organisation : Building and Construction Authority


Area of Specialisation : Structural and Geotechnical
VIP period
: 12 May 14 1 Aug 14

D
42

Ernest Phua
Year 4


uring my Vacation Internship Programme

(VIP) with the Building and Construction

Authority (BCA), I am attached to the Deep

Excavation and Geotechnical Department
(DEGD) of the Building Engineering Group (BE). BE is one
of the divisions in BCA administering the Building Control
Act to ensure that the civil and structural engineering works
are carried out in compliance with building regulations. Its
main functions are to process structural plans, check the
structural design for buildings and carry out construction
checks for building works.

works, such as earth retaining stabilising structures,


basement excavation works, erection reinforced concrete
and steel structures, and many more. Therefore, this
internship allows students like me to be on construction
sites and appreciate the things we learn in our civil
engineering course. It gives me the bigger perspective of
our curriculum, and realise how modules such as structural
steel and concrete design, construction management,
geotechnical engineering play their different roles in the
construction process of a building. Aspects such as safety
and productivity

Being at the regulatory body of the construction industry has


given me opportunities to visit various types of construction

The job as a civil engineer transcends more than just having


the technical knowledge of construction, there is a need for

NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

good communication skills as there is constant interaction


between engineers, architects, builders, contractors,
and BCA. As the main role of BCA is to ensure a safe,
sustainable and productive built environment, there are
many aspects for engineers to consider in their designs as.
well. Therefore, this internship has provided me with many
valuable lessons which might not be taught in lectures
and classes, and I recommend fellow students to take up
internship programmes to gain exposure in the construction
industry.

Erection of steel portal frame of an industrial building

Earth retaining stabilising system

Workers laying out reinforcement bars

Excavation works for basement

Organisation : Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Co., Ltd


Area of Specialisation : Structural
VIP period
: 11 May 14 29 Jul 14

Q: Describe your process of applying for the VIP.


A: The VIP was easy to find, as it has its own portal and

the steps from application to securing and checking the


internship offered is idiot proof. I have already planned a
year ago to participate in the VIP as I find it rather essential
in providing a holistic scope on our heavily theoretical
curriculum. The choice of the company depends most

Soon Roger
Year 4

importantly on the position which the company offered,


in my case to intern as a site engineer, and secondly, the
nature of the company, ie: Contractor or designer firm etc.
For me personally, I chose a contractor firm as they serve
as great platforms to apply our knowledge directly onto
the site itself. There were no interviews for my internship.
The whole process of finding the VIP was very easy and
straightforward and the whole process was an ease.
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43

Q: What did you do during your VIP?


A: Although my role is a site engineer, my supervisor

placed me on a rotation basis, meaning that I understudy


under different types of engineers and in the process,
understand their responsibilities and contributions to the
project. Meanwhile, I am still understudying as a site
engineer and my role is to ensure that the drawings are
correctly translated onto the site. The design should be
reasonable based on engineering judgement, and lastly, I
am also required to ensure that the process of works are
carried out smoothly. It is comforting to find
application from what I studied, such as the
reinforcement bars used in concrete and the
structural analysis which gives one some
engineering judgement.

designs. I do not need to work overtime, but if there are


jobs which exceed my normal working hours, I will stay if
necessary.

Q: Would you recommend the VIP to your peers?


The VIP program is very useful and essential as it assisted me
in understanding my course of study and matured me to be a
better engineer. Overall, I am very satisfied in partaking in the
program and I would highly recommend others to do the same.

Q: Is your workload heavy?


A: As for workload, it is manageable as

interns are not expected to hold engineering


responsibilities, but rather to learn the process
and the engineering principals behind the

Colleague working at excavation site

General Facade of the Site

Me and my safety supervisor in the site office

44

NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

My 2 colleagues smiling next to a


surveying machine

Organisation : Housing & Development Board


Area of Specialisation : Structural and Project Management
VIP period
: 12 May 14 1 Aug 14

ome might feel that an internship is unnecessary


and that there are better ways to spend their
precious school holidays. For me, I have always
believed that it is only when one enters an industry
and experiences the work there will they know if the job is
suitable for them. An Internship provides the opportunity
to do so. You get to explore different jobs, see how each
individual plays a part in the company, and in the event you
realise that the field is not for you, its not too late. There is
no contract to bind you to the company. And if you enjoyed
the stay and want to join the company after graduation, prior
internship experience with the company might also place
you at a better position for employment.
This summer, I spent my three month summer vacation on
an internship with Housing & Development Board (HDB)
and it has been the most enriching and fruitful holiday I
have spent in the past two years.

Me at Construction Site

Yow See Wee


Year 3

Being attached to a project director during the internship, I


was given the opportunity to visit the many Built-To-Order
(BTO) projects managed under him. I got to visit various
in-construction BTO sites around Singapore, to observe
on-site construction work, ranging from piling work to
superstructure works (including the erection of beams,
columns and slabs) to individual unit finishes. In addition, I
also had the chance to see how the consultants, contractors
and sub-contractors work and interact with one another and
understand the role each plays in a project.
You may claim that we have learnt it in CE2183 and
the other CE mods we take in school, but can you really
visualise and imagine what is happening in real life? These
site visits really serve as a platform for visual learning and
reinforcement of theory concepts.
Other than the site visits, I was also attached to the
Centralised Assessment Team (CAT) to conduct site audits.

Precast Facade Yard


NUS Ci v i l Eng i ne eri ng Cl ub Year book

45

projects, quality and work site safety may be compromised as


a result.

Pilling Works
This includes Timber Mock-ups, Sample Unit Inspection
(SUI) and Quality Management System audits which ensure
the quality and functionality of all HDB units. The quality
and functional aspects in which the team looks into is so
detailed that they catch even the smallest discrepancy or
quality issues related to workmanship and material use. For
an example, during one of the assessments, my colleague
went around the unit checking for the evenness of every wall
with a spirit level. According to standards, the deflection
cannot exceed 3mm. This is all done to ensure that the
housing HDB provides its people is of the highest standard.

Lastly, I was brought to see the various HDB iconic projects


including Pinnacle@Duxton, Treelodge@Punggol and
Punggol Waterway and was given the privilege to be exposed
to areas outside the course of my study. Following one of the
M&E technicians for lift testing to a Lift Upgrading Project
in Ang Mo Kio, I got to climb on top of the lift, down into
the lift pit to learn about the operation and mechanism of a
lift. I have come to realise that HDB not only builds BTO
flats, but also engages in various other works. In addition to
lift upgrading projects, common spaces like playgrounds, car
parks, even the roads within the neighbourhood are also built
by HDB. It really amazes me to see the wide spectrum of
work HDB does.
This internship not only enabled me to acquire new
knowledge, it also painted a clearer picture to the various
concepts taught in school. It broadened my horizons and
made me realise how interesting the construction industry is.
With this, I am more confident that CE is the course for me
and I will continue to pursue it.
I am really glad that I decided to take up this internship. Not
everyone gets the chance to experience what we study before
we begin working in the industry.

These audits made me realise


how good it is to own a HDB
flat. Private housing may have
better aesthetic appeal, but
may lack practicality and
functionality as a trade-off.
Furthermore, due to the
profit-driven nature of private

Organisation : Land Transport Authority


Area of Specialisation : Transportation and Project Management
VIP period
: 12 May 14 1 Aug 14


he decision to apply for the faculty Vacation

Internship Program or better known as VIP in short

was an impromptu one. Many would have said it was

too early to for a year-two to embark on an
internship, but after this experience I would beg to differ,
moreover, nobody said you cant do internship again! (No
modular credits on the subsequent time though)

46

NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

Tan Yun How


Year 3

My fascination with trains and railways stations from young


has brought me to a decision to apply for an internship with
the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and I was fortunate to
eventually get an internship opportunity there with their
Rail Group.
There are new problems to be solved on site every day and
a myriad of solutions to each, creating a dynamic working

Aerial View of the Expo Station Site

TBM Launching Shaft

environment for the engineers and technical officers. Many


of these solutions come from the many years of experience
that the site staff have, some of which may not be the ones
youll be expecting from a textbook, but then again, there is
almost no ideal situations in real life.

of our circle line and downtown line train tunnels in action.


Before that we had to go down the launching shaft for the
machines, being 43m underground, looking down from
the top is definitely not for the faint hearted. Each TBM is
also has its front face cutters configured uniquely to suit
the respective soil conditions of the ground. The TBM
along with its generators and backup machinery sums up to
about 12 meters long, it also has a cutting face of 6.3m in
diameter supported by a massive team of hydraulic thrust
and articulation jacks to move and steer the machine. Being
able to explore and stand on the sides of the machine while
looking at it doing work is definitely one highlight of my
internship here.

During this short period of internship, I had the opportunity


to learn about the construction procedure of a MRT station
using both the conventional bottom up method, where
excavation is completed before the casting of floor slabs,
and also the top down method, where the floor slab is
casted after one levels excavation. Being attached to the
terminal station for the downtown line, the site consists of
not just the station but also an electrical substation and also
a rail facility, together, they sum up to the size of about
four stations. It takes at least 90 minutes to walk the entire
site. Although the site is physically located at the same
position, the site itself is ever changing due to the ongoing
works, therefore, every walk on the site is a new learning
experience.
During my short period here, I also had the chance to see
the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), responsible for most

Inside the tunnel, parts that are already bored.

All in all, this internship has helped to further develop my


passion for the construction industry, it is often difficult to
imagine and appreciate what we have learnt in books without
looking at how it is actually done in practice. My fruitful
internship experience here can never be entirely illustrated in
these short paragraphs, so to get a better picture, I hope that
you would embark in a learning adventure of your own.
Trust me, you will never regret it!

Stationary TBM

NUS Ci v i l Eng i ne eri ng Cl ub Year book

47

Characteristic
hysteresis loop
during one
loading cycle for
calculation of
shear modulus
and damping
ratio

Experimental information on the cyclic stress-strain


relationships of cement-admixed and fibre-reinforced cementadmixed SMC is crucial for understanding its behavior under
small-strain vibrations. 2 important variables are: shear
modulus - the gradient of a line joining the points of maximum
and minimum shear stresses; the damping ratio - ratio between
the area enclosed by the hysteresis loop and the maximum
elastic energy that can be accumulated per cycle.

Damping energy analyzed using Microsoft Excel

While the results found cannot be shown as it is


confidential and will be published in Dr Ho Jiahui
research papers in time to come, 2 of the most important
consideration of this entire project are:

Firstly, the amount of fibre to be added has to be done by


volume instead of by mass. While it is accurate to calculate
by mass to neglect the void ratios, it is more practical to
calculate by volume as the area of on-site construction
and the depth involved can be easily calculated instead of
digging up and weighing the soil of the whole construction
site involved.
u

Largest lissajous figure at bottom right hand corner of the


oscilloscope which represents resonance occurring where
input frequency matches the natural frequency of the fibre
reinforced cement admixed SMC

Secondly, while it is easy to mix soil with cement through


the use of grouting, there are currently no available
equipment to evenly spread out the polymer fibres so that
it is mixed homogenously and in the desired proportion to
the amount of water and cement added till date.

Organisation : Building and Construction Authority


Area of Specialisation : Structural and Geotechnical
VIP period
: 12 May 14 1 Aug 14

D
42

Ernest Phua
Year 4


uring my Vacation Internship Programme

with the Building and Construction Authority

(BCA), I am attached to the Deep Excavation

and Geotechnical Department (DEGD) of the
Building Engineering Group (BE). BE is one of the
divisions in BCA administering the Building Control Act
to ensure that the civil and structural engineering works are
carried out in compliance with building regulations. Its main
functions are to process structural plans, check the structural
design for buildings and carry out construction checks for
building works.

works, such as earth retaining stabilising structures,


basement excavation works, erection reinforced concrete
and steel structures, and many more. Therefore, this
internship allows students like me to be on construction
sites and appreciate the things we learn in our civil
engineering course. It gives me the bigger perspective of
our curriculum, and realise how modules such as structural
steel and concrete design, construction management,
geotechnical engineering play their different roles in the
construction process of a building. Aspects such as safety
and productivity

Being at the regulatory body of the construction industry has


given me opportunities to visit various types of construction

The job as a civil engineer transcends more than just having


the technical knowledge of construction, there is a need for

NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

Organisation : Housing & Development Board


Area of Specialisation : Structural and Project Management
VIP period
: 12 May 14 1 Aug 14

ome might feel that an internship is unnecessary


and that there are better ways to spend their
precious school holidays. For me, I have always
believed that it is only when one enters an industry
and experiences the work there will they know if the job is
suitable for them. An Internship provides the opportunity
to do so. You get to explore different jobs, see how each
individual plays a part in the company, and in the event you
realise that the field is not for you, its not too late. There is
no contract to bind you to the company. And if you enjoyed
the stay and want to join the company after graduation, prior
internship experience with the company might also place
you at a better position for employment.
This summer, I spent my three month summer vacation on
an internship with Housing & Development Board (HDB)
and it has been the most enriching and fruitful holiday I
have spent in the past two years.

Me at Construction Site

Yow See Wei


Year 3

Being attached to a project director during the internship, I


was given the opportunity to visit the many Built-To-Order
(BTO) projects managed under him. I got to visit various
in-construction BTO sites around Singapore, to observe
on-site construction work, ranging from piling work to
superstructure works (including the erection of beams,
columns and slabs) to individual unit finishes. In addition, I
also had the chance to see how the consultants, contractors
and sub-contractors work and interact with one another and
understand the role each plays in a project.
You may claim that we have learnt it in CE2183 and
the other CE mods we take in school, but can you really
visualise and imagine what is happening in real life? These
site visits really serve as a platform for visual learning and
reinforcement of theory concepts.
Other than the site visits, I was also attached to the
Centralised Assessment Team (CAT) to conduct site audits.

Precast Facade Yard


NUS Ci v i l Eng i ne eri ng Cl ub Year book

45

projects, quality and work site safety may be compromised as


a result.

Pilling Works
This includes Timber Mock-ups, Sample Unit Inspection
(SUI) and Quality Management System audits which ensure
the quality and functionality of all HDB units. The quality
and functional aspects in which the team looks into is so
detailed that they catch even the smallest discrepancy or
quality issues related to workmanship and material use. For
an example, during one of the assessments, my colleague
went around the unit checking for the evenness of every wall
with a spirit level. According to standards, the deflection
cannot exceed 3mm. This is all done to ensure that the
housing HDB provides its people is of the highest standard.

Lastly, I was brought to see the various HDB iconic projects


including Pinnacle@Duxton, Treelodge@Punggol and
Punggol Waterway and was given the privilege to be exposed
to areas outside the course of my study. Following one of the
M&E technicians for lifttesting to a Lift Upgrading Project
in Ang Mo Kio, I got to climb on top of the lift, down into
the lift pit to learn about the operation and mechanism of a
lift. I have come to realise that HDB not only builds BTO
flats, but also engages in various other works. In addition to
lift upgrading projects, common spaces like playgrounds, car
parks, even the roads within the neighbourhood are also built
by HDB. It really amazes me to see the wide spectrum of
work HDB does.
This internship not only enabled me to acquire new
knowledge, it also painted a clearer picture to the various
concepts taught in school. It broadened my horizons and
made me realise how interesting the construction industry is.
With this, I am more confident that CE is the course for me
and I will continue to pursue it.
I am really glad that I decided to take up this internship. Not
everyone gets the chance to experience what we study before
we begin working in the industry.

These audits made me realise


how good it is to own a HDB
flat. Private housing may have
better aesthetic appeal, but
may lack practicality and
functionality as a trade-off.
Furthermore, due to the
profit-driven nature of private

Organisation : Land Transport Authority


Area of Specialisation : Transportation and Project Management
VIP period
: 12 May 14 1 Aug 14


he decision to apply for the faculty Vacation

Internship Program or better known as VIP in short

was an impromptu one. Many would have said it was

too early to for a year-two to embark on an
internship, but after this experience I would beg to differ,
moreover, nobody said you cant do internship again! (No
modular credits on the subsequent time though)

46

NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

Tan Yun Hao


Year 3

My fascination with trains and railways stations from young


has brought me to a decision to apply for an internship with
the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and I was fortunate to
eventually get an internship opportunity there with their
Rail Group.
There are new problems to be solved on site every day and
a myriad of solutions to each, creating a dynamic working

ith rapid globalisation,


young graduates
nowadays need to

be more versatile, and
be capable of adapting to any world
changes instantly. In recent years,
university education has increased
its emphasis on encouraging its
undergraduates to participate actively

in overseas opportunities (exchange


programmes, OCIP etc.) so as to
broaden their horizons. By going
through such a holistic education
that includes both local and overseas
curricula, students will be exposed to
different cultures and lifestyles, thus
enhancing their ability to develop
a global vision, and eventually

transforming themselves into the world


leaders of tomorrow.
In the next few pages, we will
showcase some of our very own CVE
undergraduates who have decided to
venture abroad during their university life,
evolving themselves and becoming one
step closer to being a global engineer.

NUS Ci v i l Eng i ne eri ng Cl ub Year book

29

Yohanes Armediaz


n the first semester of the AY2013-2014, I went for

an exchange in Chalmers University of Technology.

It is located in the second biggest city in Sweden,

Gothenburg. Gothenburg is a small, beautiful
coastal city located at the west of Sweden. It is
approximately the size of Singapore, but with only a
population of about 500,000.

Chalmers to the core modules that I was supposed to take


in that semester. Nevertheless, many people, including
my family, encouraged me to go and Ms. Dewi and
Ms. Christina from the CE Office have helped me on my
module mapping by providing needed information and
useful opinions. Without them, my exchange will not be a
successful one.

When I received the news on my SEP result, I was both


ecstatic and nervous. I was happy because I finally got
to pursue one of my dreams that is to be able to go to
Sweden for exchange. I have
always admired Sweden
since I was in Junior College
because of their taste in
fashion e.g. Nudie Jeans,
Sandqvist and H&M and
also because Sweden is
home to many innovations
and famous brands such as
IKEA, Volvo and Ericsson.
On the other hand, I was
nervous because I will have
to be away from my family
for half a year. Module
mapping was also an issue
because I could not map
any of the modules in

I loved my stay in Gothenburg while it lasted. Chalmers


managed to hold orientation activities, which has allowed
me to befriend people from various European countries

Excited: First Orientation Day in Chalmers


NUS Ci v i l Eng i ne eri ng Cl ub Year book

33

Student Exchange
Programme

As an NUS student, participating in the Student Exchange Programme (SEP) will


allow you to spend up to a year aboard in a prestigious university. You can enjoy living,
studying and learning in a new environment. You will be able to experience a new
culture, have the chance to make new friends and establish your network in a
foreign country. For more information on the SEP, please visit
http://www.eng.nus.edu.sg/cee/programmes/
CEE-UG-StudentExchangeProgramme.html

10

NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

Yohanes Armediaz


n the first semester of the AY2013-2014, I went for

an exchange in Chalmers University of Technology.

It is located in the second biggest city in Sweden,

Gothenburg. Gothenburg is a small, beautiful
coastal city located at the west of Sweden. It is
approximately the size of Singapore, but with only a
population of about 500,000.

Chalmersto the core modules that I was supposed to take


in that semester. Nevertheless, many people, including
my family, encouraged me to go and Ms. Dewi and
Ms. Christina from the CE Office have helped me on my
module mapping by providing needed information and
useful opinions. Without them, my exchange will not be a
successful one.

When I received the news on my SEP result, I was both


ecstatic and nervous. I was happy because I finally got
to pursue one of my dreams that is to be able to go to
Sweden for exchange. I have
always admired Sweden
since I was in Junior College
because of their taste in
fashion e.g. Nudie Jeans,
Sandqvist and H&M and
also because Sweden is
home to many innovations
and famous brands such as
IKEA, Volvo and Ericsson.
On the other hand, I was
nervous because I will have
to be away from my family
for half a year. Module
mapping was also an issue
because I could not map
any of the modules in

I loved my stay in Gothenburg while it lasted. Chalmers


managed to hold orientation activities, which has allowed
me to befriend people from various European countries

Excited: First Orientation Day in Chalmers


NUS Ci v i l Eng i ne eri ng Cl ub Year book

11

and at the same time, learning their culture. For example, the
Italians are usually late for meetings while the Germans are
strong drinkers! It is definitely an important experience that
may be important in the working environment in the future.
In Chalmers, there are two study periods, which lasts for 8
weeks. In each study period, there are two courses. Unlike
NUS, the four courses I took do not have any tutorials. Instead,
there were only fundamental lectures and then assignments
were given (both individual and group) which
involves more research instead of being spoon-fed
by the information during the lecture. At the end
of each study period, there may or may not be
examination. An interesting point to take note that
in Chalmers, examinations were very, very long
i.e. in the range of four to five hours, although they
could be finished within two hours. I guess this is
part of the culture in Sweden, to give the students
ample time for the examinations, which is in
contrast to that in Singapore. In overall, I felt that
the study culture in Sweden is to allow students
to do their own research, thus having a deeper
understanding of the subject through individual
work and by having only to work on two courses
simultaneously further enhance this.
Gothenburg was superb. When I arrived there in late
August, summer was ending. Hence, the sunrise is getting
later and the sunset is getting earlier, as early as around 15.30
in December. Having enjoyed much sun in Singapore, I
personally like the darkness during the winter. Life in
Gothenburg is relaxed, but it might be mundane for some
people. There were only as much activities to do such as going
to the bar or having a barbeque when there is sun. However,
with great companion, any activities will be enough and that is
where the fun comes in. I thought that while I had the

12

NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

chance, I should hang out with the Europeans and so I did. It


turned out to be the best part of my exchange, getting to know
many friendly people from all over Europe and their own
food at the same time! We held activities such as international
dinner and I had the chance to taste some of the homecooked
food from other European countries and they were delicious.
Unfortunately, I was only in Chalmers for a semester and
like all good things, it has to come to an end. However,

Reluctant: Last Night in Gothenburg


after having doubts initially about going for an exchange to
Gothenburg, I did not regret of deciding to go for it. For those
who are still considering SEP, I say go for it. It might seem
scary at first, but once you are settled down, it will be one of
the best experiences you will ever have. Also, try to step out
of the comfort zone and hang out with people with different
background. I do not know people from other countries, but
Swedish are conservative at first, but when you get to know
them, they are not what they seem to look like. n

Willkommen!: RWTH Aachen University

Written by: Kwek Yong, a recent Civil Engineering graduate who had embarked on her SEP trip to RWTH
Aachen University in Aachen, North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany during AY1213 Sem 2.

hy living in
Aachen, not
living in Germany:


Geographically, Aachen
is a small city. The city centre is 2km
from end to end and can be represented
sufficiently on a half-A4-size paper. Its
considered a city because it has brand
names on a mid-sized shopping belt, a
cathedral, Town Hall, and bus services.
To my surprise, many people dont
(want to) speak German, even though
all the road signs are in German, and
the US/UK movies are also dubbed in

German (but thats the same all over


Germany).
I was on the train back from Brussels
and had time to think. I need to write
this down so I dont forget, and
hopefully friends who are not here can
imagine what its like.

Food

Initially when I arrived here I was really


disappointed with how Europeans in
general ate. Everything seemed tasteless
and boring and cold. In contrast to all

the wok-fried food in Singapore of all


tastes, odours and textures, food here
was monotonous and bland. It took me
some time to see the positive side of
eating here.
If you want a sit-down breakfast, it is
served only at rather atas places in the
city centre, i.e. expensive. Otherwise,
you can just grab some bread at the
numerous bakeries around the city.
Bread with various seeds e.g. pumpkin,
sunflower is recommended! If you

NUS Ci v i l Eng i neeri ng Cl ub Year book

11

didnt know, Germans are big on bread, in addition to


sausages, schnitzel and beer (it IS food).
For lunch I usually eat at the mensa (student canteen). At the
mensa, usually there are 4 choices of main courses at 1,80
EUR, 2,10 EUR, 2,60 EUR and 3,90 EUR. I once tried the

things havebeen on display


for ages, for example the
soy sauce has a weird smell
but tastes ok.

Lessons

Now I am taking 3 Masters


courses, 1 Bachelor course
and 1 language course. There
is an online portal here too,
L2P as IVLE is to NUS.

Course structure

1,80 EUR one, it was so gross. Now I stick to the 2,60 EUR
one and its pretty decent (e.g. today I had excellently cooked
succulent chicken drumsticks with fries and a salad). Ive
never tried the 3,90 EUR one cos its way too expensive and
how good can canteen food get.

Course structure is the same


as in NUS: lectures and
tutorials. However, tutorial
classes here are not split up
into smaller groups. The lecturer will give lectures, and his
assistant (Masters/PhD student) will conduct tutorials. Not all
courses have equal number credits like in NUS, but it depends
on the amount of contact + self-study hours the course
requires. Contact time is also less here, for example I have one
module that is only 1.5 hours a week, but most modules are 3
hours a week.

Teaching style

Here, the style of the lesson really depends on the lecturer/


teaching assistant. Most of them have powerpoint slides, some
lecture without writing on the screen, others do just the
required points (something to like about Germans). I have a
lecturer who is still writing on chalkboards though. For those
with powerpoint slides, some will print them out for the class,
even at Masters level; some dont. The teaching style here
is more varied, which sort of makes going for lessons more
exciting.
I usually cook dinner in the hostel, because I get to control
what I eat: how much oil, salt, veggies, meat, carbs I want.
This brings me to shopping at the supermarket.

Supermarket

Maybe you think Europe is expensive, or maybe you think


Germany is cheap, but the reality far exceeds your
expectations! You can get many things under 1 EUR here.
A lot of products are 0,xx EUR.
Compared to Singapore, there is a far less variety of fresh
vegetables here and next to no fresh fish at all. However, here
being a European country, there is a lot of cheese and spreads
(Germans like quark, some sort of healthy cheese) and salami
and fresh bread.
The German chains (Netto Marken-Discount, Rewe, Lidl,
Kaufland here in Aachen) dont give plastic bags, except for
you to put vegetables, but the Turkish supermarket does. I
havent actually bought anything from the Asian supermarket
thus far, because there is no chin-chow and I feel a lot of

12

NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

In tutorials, its just copying what the tutor writes. In the


printed slides, there are blanks for us to fill in. But the
disturbing thing is they mostly assume you have very good
prior knowledge and just write a string of numbers without
formulas. I once tried to ask about it, but the tutor was like
you didnt take Concrete part I?? and looked very
disappointed. Plus I didnt get my answer.

Numbers

Germans write numbers in a set


way. Decimal points are commas
and 1s have an extra stroke.

People

There are many Turkish here, and


all over Germany. Really, kebab
is the after-party food. In Aachen,
there are few people who do not
speak German as a mother
tongue/first language, and many
of those are from China. There

are, as far as my observations, no Singaporeans studying fulltime here. The closest I got was Malaysian.

Friendliness

The only time a German spoke to me of his/her own accord


was when I was in Bruges when she asked me about my
fries in English. I guess since I am taking lessons in German,
everyone assumes I understand German wholly, so no need
to welcome yet another Asian. Most of the people who start
talking to me are Chinese wondering if Im from China.
In Germany, bitte works everywhere, it is similar to
please but even more
general. However, while they
may bitte you all the time,
Germans also have a very good
poker face. It might be the
weather and the wind, but Im
not really sure whether they are
in fact very nice or reserved or
anti-non-Germans.

Languages

Transport

We have a Semesterticket, a transport card entitling students


to travel on all buses and trains within the Bundesland (state)
of North-Rhine Westphalia. After paying the initial fee of
225,31 EUR, we have free transport to and within 23 cities
including Cologne, Dsseldorf, Dortmund (3 of Germanys
10 largest cities) in the entire state for the whole semester.
Awesome much?

Efficiency

Buses have a fixed timetable, they come every 15 minutes


on weekdays. Some services are only at certain times, but
everything is written in the
timetable, which they are
able to stick to because of the
low traffic here. I thought of
Singapores situation, but its
quite impossible to set
timings given the congestion
on Singapore roads. German
trains are on time when they
are on time, and Ive seen
30-50 min delays before.
There isnt much you can do,
because alternative routes
will take longer as well.

I am constantly surprised by
how many languages people
here can speak. Many people
speak German as a first
Happy: Me and my German friends
language, but they know
**************************************************
English. I know how difficult it is to learn a different language
in an environment in which no one speaks it (e.g. German in
Aachen is not a kind of place youll fall in love with instantly,
Singapore, English in Aachen), but it is impressive that these
nor will it slowly grow on you until you are totally in love
students can speak so well in English.
with it. It started of just alright, and got better slowly, very
slowly.
People from other parts of the world also speak their mother
tongue, English to communicate with the rest of the world, and
The people you surround yourself with will help you get
have an excellent grasp of German since they are studying in
through the homesickness and also navigate this new land. You
Germany, so they know at least 3 languages. The fastest and
will be on exchange with fellow NUS schoolmates but there
most fun way to learn a language is probably to watch shows.
are myriad opportunities to meet other people too, especially
Here, all television is in German without subtitles, making
at international students events and language courses. If you
it nearly impossible to learn from TV. Most Germans dont
are lucky, others may approach you just to chat, but dont
watch German TV either they watch American serials. An
count on it, be proactive and you are in for an adventure! n
alternative source will be YouTube.

NUS Ci v i l Eng i ne eri ng Cl ub Year book

13

Aachen
are, as far as my observations, no Singaporeans studying fulltime here. The closest I got was Malaysian.

Friendliness

The only time a German spoke to me of his/her own accord


was when I was in Bruges when she asked me about my
fries in English. I guess since I am taking lessons in German,
everyone assumes I understand German wholly, so no need
to welcome yet another Asian. Most of the people who start
talking to me are Chinese wondering if Im from China.
In Germany, bitte works everywhere, it is similar to
please but even more
general. However, while they
may bitte you all the time,
Germans also have a very good
poker face. It might be the
weather and the wind, but Im
not really sure whether they are
in fact very nice or reserved or
anti-non-Germans.

Languages

Transport

We have a Semesterticket, a transport card entitling students


to travel on all buses and trains within the Bundesland (state)
of North-Rhine Westphalia. After paying the initial fee of
225,31 EUR, we have free transport to and within 23 cities
including Cologne, Dsseldorf, Dortmund (3 of Germanys
10 largest cities) in the entire state for the whole semester.
Awesome much?

Efficiency

Buses have a fixed timetable, they come every 15 minutes


on weekdays. Some services are only at certain times, but
everything is written in the
timetable, which they are
able to stick to because of the
low traffic here. I thought of
Singapores situation, but its
quite impossible to set
timings given the congestion
on Singapore roads. German
trains are on time when they
are on time, and Ive seen
30-50 min delays before.
There isnt much you can do,
because alternative routes
will take longer as well.

I am constantly surprised by
how many languages people
here can speak. Many people
speak German as a first
Happy: Me and my German friends
language, but they know
**************************************************
English. I know how difficult it is to learn a different language
in an environment in which no one speaks it (e.g. German in
Aachen is not a kind of place youll fall in love with instantly,
Singapore, English in Aachen), but it is impressive that these
nor will it slowly grow on you until you are totally in love
students can speak so well in English.
with it. It started of just alright, and got better slowly, very
slowly.
People from other parts of the world also speak their mother
tongue, English to communicate with the rest of the world, and
The people you surround yourself with will help you get
have an excellent grasp of German since they are studying in
through the homesickness and also navigate this new land. You
Germany, so they know at least 3 languages. The fastest and
will be on exchange with fellow NUS schoolmates but there
most fun way to learn a language is probably to watch shows.
are myriad opportunities to meet other people too, especially
Here, all television is in German without subtitles, making
at international students events and language courses. If you
it nearly impossible to learn from TV. Most Germans dont
are lucky, others may approach you just to chat, but dont
watch German TV either they watch American serials. An
count on it, be proactive and you are in for an adventure! n
alternative source will be YouTube.

NUS Ci v i l Eng i ne eri ng Cl ub Year book

37

The new school and library compound


in Ban Nam Tong

peration Orion is a student-initiated service


learning project endorsed by the Department of
Civil Engineering of National University of
Singapore (NUS). As members of Operation Orion, we seek
to apply our civil engineering knowledge for the benefit of
the others within the region. Every year we go to different
ASEAN countries and embark on some form of infrastructure
improvement projects.
In 2013, Operation Orion had the honour of participating
in a partnership with the Houiysay District Ministry of
Education, in the Bokeo Province of Laos. This project was
masterminded by Mr. Sanva Saephan, the author of the books
Stateless and Transition. He is a Laotian man who,
despite coming to Singapore on an ASEAN scholarship,
has never forgotten his roots. We worked together with the
villagers to build a new school in the village Ban Nam Tong
as their existing school was in deplorable condition and too
small to accommodate all the children.
When I was told to write an article about Operation Orion
2013, I initially wanted to provide the readers with a factual
description of what Operation Orion 2013 had achieved

12

Usha D/O Kumaran


Project Director
Operation Orion 2013

but then I decided that a reflection about the things that


had impacted us most as a team would be a far more
meaningful experience to share.
Many Singaporeans around my age may have been to
countries less wealthy than our sunny island state as
part of an educational program aimed to inspire youth.
And upon their return, we will always hear variations
of, The contentment within their world of poverty is so
awe inspiring and it teaches us to be grateful for all the
opportunities and material wealth we have at home. In
truth however, the people we meet in these countries do
not exist solely for the purpose to teach us valuable lessons
or to make us better people. That is the first major lesson
I learned during my Operation Orion journey. I could not
be more thankful for the warm welcome we were gifted
with. We were treated with the utmost of love and respect
and each of us has glowing memories of Ban Nam Tong
that seem like they will only get stronger with time. I have
to thank them for allowing us to infringe on their routine
lives, and not only making space for us in their lifestyle but
making us feel at home in it.

The children of Ban Nam Tong with their traditional Laos Dance!
NUS C iv il E n gin e er i n g C l u b Yea r b o o k

Some of the countless things for which we will feel


eternally grateful for are things like the village chief
posting guards for us at night while we slept in the
school, setting up generators for us even if we insisted
that we did not need lights and feeding us with hearty
meals regardless of whether or not they have actually
eaten well. We faced many challenges during this
expedition, one of which was the lack of a proper
translator. And yet, the friendships that we made with
the people of Ban Nam Tong required no words in any
language. Our communication consisted of smiles,
laughter, and clumsy sign language. One other challenge
we found ourselves facing was when the water supply
to the whole village stopped due to river blockages.
However, the villagers were so much more concerned
about us than about themselves that skipping a few
showers did not seem that monumental to them at all!

These paragraphs that I have written do very little justice to this


gargantuan experience that was intrinsic to Operation Orion
2013. I hope that you have obtained enough snippets of our
journey though! But before I end I must credit everyone who
made this incredible journey possible. I want to thank Woh Hup
Pte Ltd and Dragages Singapore Pte Ltd for having faith in
us students and funding us on our project. This project would
definitely not have been possible without their belief in us and
their support! I also want to thank Sanva for teaching us what
service truly is about. Lastly, I want to thank Asst. Professor
Chew Soon Hoe and the admin staff of the CEE Department,
especially Ms. Siti, for being such understanding mentors and
for guiding us so tirelessly through this journey. Of course I
cannot forget the wonderfully dedicated main committee as
well as the Operation Orion team members who spent so much
effort in making this happen! I am so pleased to have had the
honour of working with each and every one of you!

On our last day there at the village, we had a farewell


party where we performed for them and they for us.
There was also a feast of epic proportions, which is
of course any Singaporeans dream comes true! On
the morning that we were about to leave, we even had
a traditional Mienh farewell that involved the village
elderly tying strings around our wrists while telling
us their heartfelt wishes for our future successes. This
was a touching ceremony indeed and there were not
very many dry eyes as we waved goodbye to the people
of Ban Nam Tong who had so effortlessly captured
permanent places in our hearts.

WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT


OPERATION ORION?

Do like our facebook page


https://www.facebook.com/OperationOrionNUS
and check out our website at
http://operationorion.ceclub.sg/

for more information on our


next operation.

Operation Orion 2013 team with some of the villagers


NUS Ci v i l Eng i ne eri ng Cl ub Year book

13