I spent this summer – one of the best I’ve ever had – at a research lab at the National University of Singapore. I worked on a method of energy generation using charged elastomeric membranes as variable capacitors, called Dielectric Elastomer Generators (DEGs). By cyclically stretching and relaxing the membranes, mechanical energy is converted into electric energy in the form of amplified voltage. Beyond the routine tasks of performing experiments to characterize DEGs, I helped come up with new, more efficient configurations, and wrote a MATLAB script to compute the generated electricity.
Working in such a lab was invaluable in teaching me what a research lab environment is like. Scientific concepts we studied in class were surprisingly useful in understanding the physics behind our work. I was pleased to see that the work was quite open-ended and self-driven; the understanding we gained day by day was used in determining our next steps, such as which configurations to try to maximize DEG efficiency. Overall, it was an excellent opportunity that taught me in a refreshingly different way from a classroom.
Beyond the lab work, my stay abroad was absolutely fantastic. Singapore is a vibrant country that brings together a mix of Eastern culture and Western modernity. A comfortable place to live, it never failed to keep us entertained with its glamorous downtown core, stunning beaches and expansive wildlife parks. As if that wasn’t enough, going to Singapore gave me an opportunity to travel Southeast Asia. I visited Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand immediately after my research ended, and thoroughly enjoyed a refreshing splash of tourism halfway around the globe.
I’m incredibly grateful for this research abroad opportunity, and I’d definitely do it again.