Follow UCreateChange on Facebook Follow UCreateChange on Twitter Subscribe to Engineering to inspire... RSS feed Got a question? Email us

Singapore: the land of “no ingenuity”?

GDome by Create2010 winners Not if my trawl through the net had anything to say about it.

My research for this week’s posts on Asian inventions and Asian inventors at turned up an amazing revelation: Singaporeans are as inventive as Koreans, Japanese, or Silicon Valley types.

A little history, we have plenty of firsts – Sim Wong Hoo for PC sound cards (to better listen to MP3), Trek Technology for thumbdrives (to better carry data around), and X-mini for mini subwoofers (to better blast emo-punk music).

We know them cause they made it to the top. So are there inventors who aren’t on our collective Wikipedia entry?

Hell, yeah.


Power up! Alternative sources of power

Power up! Alternative sources of power. The Plasma plant 16-28 Feb 2010

Power = energy / time.

Energy converts over time to give us power. Question is: how much time do we have left before we run out of energy?

Perhaps that’s why radical ideas are floating around on the internet such as hamster-powered electronics where nanogenerators harvest biomechanical energy released from small, irregular and erratic movements… expect hamster sweatshops in dingy corners soon. For power on the go, bounce a Piezoelectric backpack to charge your Motorola Razr cell phone.

Cars are the worst consumers of fossil fuels. In response a couple students invented a water-fueled internal combustion engine for scooters to run on water. We hope that it’ll eventually graduate to water-powered cars. And mind you, don’t smoke away the next big biofuel… as scientists discovered that tweaking genes of a Tobacco plant can increase oil production by 20 times. How’s that for maxing out our fuel production?

On the grander scale of things, our trash can power a country if we can get plasma plants in Pulau Semaku. And someone’s making a fusion reactor to provide limitless energy at minimal cost to the environment. Now that’s the wet dream of all green physicists.

Got an idea that would power up our lives? Leave it in the comments.


[Students say] What is Engineering?

Is this your idea of engineering? Eco-friendly housing communities on San Juan Islands Here’s the thing.

We’ve heard about “What is Engineering” from friends and our Creators of Tomorrow. But really, what do students think of engineering or innovation?

After all our friends aren’t going to switch careers and the Creators of Tomorrow are engineers. So that leaves the future – students of today.

While we’re waiting for your say, perhaps this little study by an engineering lecturer, Preman Rajalingam of Republic Polytechnic, could shed some light on what students think of engineering.

He got students to take photos and write up on what engineering meant to them. Then he categorised each photo according to an engineering outcome (what results from engineering) and their write ups to engineering processes (what goes into engineering).

I’m skipping over the report’s details (read it below or at Scrib) and presenting the conclusions…


Just who is: Justin Chiam of SIA Engineering

Creator of Tomorrow - Justin Chiam Justin Chiam’s got a hand in the passenger jets that fly from Changi Airport.

Well… Not literally, but he is part of the team that oversees the redelivery of aircraft that goes to SIA Engineering for servicing (located within Changi Airport).

He describes his work as:

“I look at continuous improvements of our operational processes. In the aviation industry, everything is highly regulated. Operational tasks must be carried out smoothly, efficiently and with clockwise precision. This is only possible if the SIA Engineering improves the efficiency and effectiveness of their processes. At the moment, my section looks at the running of aircraft maintenance checks – from start of negotiations until redelivery of aircraft to our customers.”

But we’re after more, so we asked:


Just who are the Creators of Tomorrow?

Yes yes, we know that the spiel’s on

But really, who is a Creator of Tomorrow (or CoT)?

Let’s count their characteristics:

  • Engineers who band together because engineering makes the world go round.
  • Believers that engineering is a creative endeavour.
  • Promotes engineering.
  • Leaders in their respective industries. (Y’know reeeally big companies like Google, BMW, SIA Engineering, Exxon Mobil amongst others.)

But other than those bits, we don’t really know them.

Or why they’re CoTs for the matter.

So we had tea with them and talked and talked and talked. And we found a bunch of interesting things to share with y’all. That’s how we came up with the “Just Who is” series where every month, we’ll post up our talks with a different CoT… until we run out of CoTs. Hopefully, these interviews will give you insights to why these ordinary folk became engineers, and how they got to the top of their industries.

Now on to the first Creator of Tomorrow: Justin Chiam!


Biomimetic engineering: Nature inspires innovations

9-15 Feb 2010

 Biomimicry scientists make artificial leaf to split water and generate hydrogen with light From catching water to moving effortlessly and creating food from unusual sources (e.g. sunlight), nature’s organisms had centuries to get it right.

And we’re better off mimicking them in our designs of everyday and not-so-everyday things.

Take plants for example. Every school kid knows that they produce energy by photosynthesis, and make the air breathable for us (carbon dioxide in, oxygen out).

So engineers took their lead from plants, resulting in a solar cell that’s twice as efficient than other cells and concrete blocks that breathe carbon dioxide from the air!

We’d expect every living thing to host bacteria colonies. But there’s none on the Galapagos sharks. That’s due to their unusual skin patterns that prevent bacteria from landing on it. This discovery led to anti-bacterial surfaces used in hospitals.

The Humpback Whale’s jumps through the air are likened as a ballet. That inspired aerodynamic windmills based on their unusual fins. Back on land, the Nambian fog-basking beetle has taught architects how to design buildings that collect and collate water from its surroundings. The ant colony is greater than the sum of its ants. In fact it self-regulates its resources without the need for a central controller. Regen’s smart energy grid took a cue from the ants and allowed every electrical appliance to monitor and adjust their own energy usage based on what’s happening as a whole.

But the kicker is how we’ve design a way to self-assemble solar cells by mimicking salad dressing. Imagine it… salad dressing inspires?!

Janine Benyus on Biomimicry (src: TED)


Happy Chinese New Year!


Gong xi Gong xi! May you get plenty of ang paos for this new year!


I believe I can fly: On flight and flying machines

1-8 Feb 2010

2010_02_04 - Yuneec e430 Electric Plane Fly to KL for $2 Lemme ask you a question: “Have you wanted to fly?”

If not, then you’re missing out on the greatest of all human inventions – our ability to fly. Admittedly we fly seated instead of flapping our arms like birds, but it’s certainly better than being landbound… and as a pilot friend of mine once said: “Once you’re up there, you’ll never want to come back down.”

But we might soon find our wings clipped if we don’t figure out how to reduce the ecological cost of flying (and all things locomotive). That’s why we heart this electric plane that allows us to fly from Singapore to KL in a single bound and on $2 too! And in a fit of natural inspiration, they’ve took a leaf out of a tree and modelled a single-wing airplane after it. Apparently it flies pretty ok. If you want it to go down.

But flight isn’t just confined to airplanes. It goes down into the seas with this personal submarine that’s modeled after airplanes and uses aerodynamic principles to float, dive and glide through the seas. And the Russians once tried to cross-breed a tank with a plane with surprising results.

Here’s a weird application where we can levitate things with sound. Originally intended as a way to clean moon and mars vehicles, Acoustic levitation might just be the boost that concerts need to outflank each other.

Finally, we’ve posted up photos of the Singapore Airshow 2010 on our Facebook Fanpage. Y’know… just in case you didn’t make it out to middle-of-nowhere Changi Exhibition Centre.

cessna Rolls Royce Engines F15 Apache
Click on any photo to see our entire gallery! (Takes you away from this blog)


Living spaces: It ain’t up the clouds

Zero Energy Building- credit BCA Most of us live in buildings: be it bungalows, HDB flats, or huts. Some of them are exquisite but dysfunctional, others value function over style. Architects and developers ask “Why can’t we have both?”

Sure we could.

Just look to these projects for inspiration. And mix-and-match them to your liking.


Terrex ICV: ST Kinetics

We’re at the ST Kinetics’ skatepark for mechanical monsters. It’s a large smooth concrete testing ground of log-like humps, mountainous inclines, curved swathes and a wading pool that’s twice a man’s height.

And we’re crawling over the army’s latest toy – The Terrex – like a bunch of ants.

The 24-ton (that’s 24,000 kg) armour-plated vehicle looks like two D-day barges bookending a kosong sandwich on eight “I’m-gonna-crush-you” wheels. There were discreet lumps on the edges of the vehicle. The roof turret with an unblinking camera swivelled around and around. Human heads encased in large headphones poked through two hatches.

They disregard the baking sun. And revved up the engine. 


Good vibrations: Concerts galore!

25-31 Jan 2010

The Audiopad: Create and perform music on your table What a month of concerts!

We had Green Day, Boys Like Girls, and A*Mei. And this week is all Muse at the Big Night Out. And they all sounded great! That’s why we paid tribute to Sound engineers last week. These hidden talents are responsible for syncing up the band’s sounds – from drummer to guitarist to Martin.

That’s no mean feat so give ‘em respect. Check out Tom Butcher’s blog on how music, software and electronics could come together (thanks for the tip, fourwallsofsound!).

Especially in other areas where they come up with new musical experiences such as the voice-controlled toy piano where the piano tinkles to your singing, or The Audiopad – a brand new console that mixes music with a flick and twist of bottle caps.

Early adopters will want these oh-so-cutting edge audio gadgets to stay ahead of the musical scene. Alternatively get decked out with The Dancepants Kinetic Music Player where music is powered by your running feet via your pants.

I’ve always wondered – what if Boys Like Girls had the Boom Bench for their concert? Now that would seriously rock the house down.

The Great Escape by Boys Like Girls at Resorts World Singapore (src: 9421700)

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Recent posts

Recent comments


About e

Change Champion e: editor of UCreateChange.comI'm the editor of UCreateChange. And I started this blog with the intention of putting up my past weekly roundups 'cause it's a shame they're simply disappearing into people's inboxes. Anyways, if you've a question on engineering, drop me a line at!