General News

Aspiring HCI Scientists Innovative Solutions For Real Life Problems

15 Jun 2020
General

Singapore Science and Engineering Fair 2020

This year, 70 aspiring scientists from Hwa Chong submitted 52 projects for the 20th Singapore Science and Engineering Fair (SSEF) organized by Ministry of Education (MOE), the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and the Science Centre Singapore (SCS). The SSEF is affiliated to the prestigious Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), which is widely regarded as the Olympics of science competitions.

We would like to congratulate and commend the hard work and tenacious spirit displayed by our students, staff and research mentors; where they brought home 9 Gold Medals, 6 Silver Medals, 9 Bronze Medals, 9 Merit Medals, and 10 Special Awards. What is also noteworthy is that the total number of awards obtained went up to 43 compared to 28 last year.

We are also encouraged by our students’ efforts to engage in research that makes a difference to the community. 

A Gold Medallist team comprising Johnny Xiao Yong Yu (19S7D) and Xiang Yang (19S7G) shared that:
“One unique aspect of our project was the freedom at which our group was able to choose the direction of our research project. Under the guidance of Dr Hugo and Dr Wang Zuxin from NUS, as well as our mentor Mr Low Kay Siang, we were allowed to decide which water pollutants we would like to explore in our project. Given this freedom to choose what we wanted to accomplish with our project, our group aimed to tackle emerging and pertinent issues harming people around the world. We first attempted to explore an issue that was garnering worldwide attention which was microplastics. However, our initial experiments for the first half of the year were not promising despite our best efforts and eventually, we had to let the idea go. While it was disheartening to see our initial idea fail to come into fruition, we continued on, scouring the news for relevant water pollutants and we finally came across GenX, an emerging industrial pollutant plaguing many parts of the world due to its high toxicity and persistency in water bodies. Despite all the setbacks we faced, we were greatly heartened that through this project, we could contribute to alleviating an issue experienced by many in the world.”


From left to right: Xiang Yang (19S7G) and Johnny Xiao Yong Yu (19S7D)

Mentored by Dr Kelvin Tan, the team who clinched a Silver Award, Christopher Ong Xianbo (19S7B), Benson Lin Zhan Li (19S7D) and Quek Jia Zhi, Shuan (19S7D) initiated a project to help our school security team improve the effectiveness of their work with quick retrieval of real-time information. Working closely with Mr Tay Peng Kwang, our security manager as well as his team, they utilized their programming and analytical skills to develop a  system which could identify and analyse car plate licence numbers parked within campus via photographs taken by the security team.

The team has certainly learnt much from this experience. Quek Jia Zhi, Shaun (19S7D) mentioned that :
“This project certainly did not come without some difficulties. In particular, one of the main problems that we encountered was the horrific accuracy of our initial algorithm, as it was largely only capable of handling our ‘lab-perfect’ images. To tackle this problem, we had to make significant revisions to each portion of our algorithm. Namely, the architectures of the machine learning networks were completely modified, and our datasets were changed to better mimic real-life conditions. Minor changes were also made to the application to better ensure that the predictions would be accurate. Overall, through the efforts of the whole team, these changes were indeed effective in raising the accuracy of our algorithm.

Working with the security team definitely gave us a lot of important insight as to how we should approach the project. Notably, Mr Tay gave us crucial information for the development of the mobile application by highlighting the difficulties he and his team faced in tracking the movement of cars. Moreover, he commented on the important information that should be presented on the application, streamlining the application development process significantly. Unlike past projects, where the development of the product mainly revolved around hypotheticals, being able to communicate directly with the involved party allowed our prototype to hopefully be more applicable and useful to them.”

Christopher Ong Xianbo (19S7B) commented that:
“Especially in coding, coordinating with a team is not an easy task because it is often inconvenient to synchronize code between different devices. Before the project, I had quite some coding experience already, but most of these came from me working on personal, individual projects. It took time to learn how to use code-sharing frameworks like GitHub, and get used to it, because the practices required to use it properly are unintuitive to a starter. It will definitely be a useful skill if I take on a code-related job in future.”

Benson Lin Zhan Li (19S7D) remarked that:
“A strength that I think I have developed is tenacity. Before Shaun could work on the carplate recognition algorithm, we had to manually label hundreds of photos with the correct carplate location so that the algorithm can learn how to find the carplate accurately. I was given the role of manually marking out the carplate locations on each image. Even though it was a slow and tedious process with a rate of around 2 images per minute, I kept going on for hours to give Shaun the correct data needed. This persistence and tenacity will be helpful when working on much larger projects, where there may be no results for a long time and the work may be very boring and tedious”.

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