The MAGEEP Engineering International Experience Program provides students education beyond a campus classroom. The 2014 student trip to Singapore allowed five engineering students the opportunity to enhance and enrich their undergraduate experience and provide a focused international experience looking at global challenges. This two week visit was hosted by the National University of Singapore (NUS), one of our 29 MAGEEP University partners. During the two week visit the students were provided lectures and tours of research project from NUS professors highlighting some of the major areas of interest in chemical engineering on an international platform. A major focus of the lectures included topics on clean energy.
National University of Singapore is a large university with 27,000 undergraduate students and 10,000 graduate students. The Washington University students stayed at student housing on the NUS campus and were able to experience how the NUS students live, including the variety of foods, access to campus facilities, and use of student transportation in a large campus. This trip also included some academic tours outside of NUS including a trip to the Biopolis. The Biopolis is a research campus created to provide space for biomedical research which could promote the collaboration between private companies and public scientific/educational bodies. A WashU alumni working at the Biopolis provided an insightful talk of how he used his Washington University education to obtain a position at the Biopolis in Singapore. Another site visit was to the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute (NEWRI). The NEWRI was constructed in 2009 with an $849 Million grant from the government for sustainability research. The areas of research at NEWRI include; water production and reclamation, membrane separation, energy use and efficiency, and renewable energy generation. A different but one of the most enlightening experiences for the students was a visit to the Yale-NUS University liberal arts program. A Yale professor discussed the impact of earthquakes on different geographic and socioeconomic locations. Although he is not an engineering professor, he targeted the importance of this topic and the role of engineers in solving problems.
A highlight of the week was our participation in the International Water Week Convention at the Singapore convention center and a tour of Singapore's "NEW Water Facility". The students were able to see the current and future technologies for treating drinking water and methods used for water reclamation in practice at a world renowned water treatment and reuse facility.
This international trip incorporated a constant duality of cultural and academic learning: exposure to new ideas in the students' field of learning while living and understanding a different social and academic culture. Much of the time was also spent visiting the unique social and cultural aspects of Singapore. Some of the local sites visited by students included; Singapore Botanic Gardens, Night Safari at the Singapore Zoo, Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa Island, World War II Museum, Marina Bay Sands, and of course the many restaurants and culture centers.
Washington University students are faced with many technical aspects and a vast option of paths to follow post-graduation. This trip allowed these students to take in the technical, academic, and cultural nuances in the field of chemical, environmental, and energy engineering from a global perspective. As one student wrote; "I am on a constant quest to experience new things so that one of them may inspire where I take my future. This course was a brilliant way to gain insight into the academia of an upper-tier school while simultaneously experiencing a culture unlike anything that I had previously been exposed to."