General News

HCI’s Students Learn with Passion at Caltech

28 Jan 2016

From 28th November to 13th December 2015, Dr Erkan Polatdemir, together with 4 CenTAD students visited Hwa Chong Alumnus, Professor Changhuei Yang’s Biophotonics research laboratory at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasenda, Los Angeles. On top of learning basic programming using Matlab and Labview, the students interacted with Professor Yang’s research group in Moore Laboratories twice weekly during their stay.

As one whose personal interest lies in Physics, Wu Mingsong (15S63) astutely reflected that:

“Such a marriage of photonics and cell biology really brings me out of the school bubble, where knowledge tends to be compartmentalised into individual subjects, and to a scientific crucible, full of exciting innovations that have profound impacts on the future in many industries. I see now that learning deeply about a subject is meaningless unless I can relate the implications of what I learn to contemporary applications, and that often needs more knowledge from other areas. To glimpse what lies at the forefront of science, one must embrace science in its entirety.“

Lee Yanxi, Bianca (14S6G) was moved by the research group’s love for science and research with their “active attempts to impart the joy of research, of learning, of exploring the unknown, to others”. For Goh Ka Hui (15S6G), the culture of collaborative inquiry was palpable and inspiring:

“…I learnt how the people in the research group shared their progress on their own projects and presented on an article they felt could be useful to others. The environment of the group meetings was very constructive and everyone was trying to share their knowledge with others and learn from others as well, rather than criticising others' mistakes…I think this helps people learn better and I hope to promote this culture of sharing knowledge and collaborating with one another to my juniors in the photonics group.”

Particularly intrigued by the university’s examination system, where Caltech students are entrusted to take their exams anywhere, at any time, provided their responses are submitted by the stipulated deadlines, Wang Haotian (15S7D) pondered:

“The mechanism that prevents students from cheating is functional because the students are aware of the rationale behind the rules set by the school, which is to help them gain more accurate appraisal of their own command of knowledge… examinations should not be taken for the sake of scoring high marks, but should serve as a means to an end.”

Evidently, the students’ takeaways from the trip were rich and manifold and we look forward to them sharing their meaningful insights with their juniors while pursuing their passion in research.

From Left to Right: Lee Yanxi, Bianca (14S6G), Goh Ka Hui (15S6G), Wu Mingsong (15S63), Wang Haotian (15S7D), Dr Erkan Polatdemir (Physics Lecturer)

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