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Summary of our ALP adventure

4 Sep

By Yoong Jia Jun (Industrial Design theme)

Hangzhou is a beautiful city. In the three and a half months in Zhejiang University, I have had a lot of fun while in the process of learning. It was spring when we arrived and autumn when we left. The first two months were rather relaxing; we had a lot of time to travel around Hangzhou and the neighbouring cities. The last month was really hectic for the students in my theme as well as in many other themes. We had to design something and model it on rhino, and eventually make the physical prototype. There was a report and video to submit too. This entry is a summary of our time there and the things I’ve learnt. I’ll first talk about Hangzhou, Zhejiang University and the things we do during our free time.

record-breaking temperature in Hangzhou

We were there to experience the record-breaking temperature in Hangzhou.

Beautiful sunset & 月牙楼

Amazingly, beautiful sunsets are not uncommon in Hangzhou. The sky was really pink that day. The building in this photo is International Design Institute of Zhejiang University (IDI / 月牙楼), the place we go to every day when we do not go to our internship companies.

Bikes - free to rent for the first one hour

These bikes were so useful while we were there. It is free to rent for the first one hour and costs 1RMB for the next hour.

Dishes from 外婆家 Dishes from 外婆家

These are two dishes from 外婆家, one of the more affordable and yummy restaurants in Hangzhou. The food in Hangzhou is really good, I must say. I am missing the steamboats we had ever so frequently already.

BBQ (烧烤) BBQ (烧烤) BBQ (烧烤)

Speaking of food, the BBQ (烧烤) there is super good. Although the food is really unhealthy, it is something not to be missed. My theme members have had countless shao kao sessions with our ZJU mentor Liu Yi. We’ve even had it once with Angelvin (from the SUTD Student Life department) when she came with the SSUE students. Usually, we would walk over to the nearby KTV to sing after we had shao kao. This is just about how we spent our nights.

Pond area in ZJU Pond area in ZJU Group photo with ZJU mentor Hanlei

Our other mentor Han Lei brought us around the pond area in ZJU and we chanced upon some geese and black swans. The school is really huge and beautiful.

Bei Jia Bei Jia Chia Wu Chia Wu Chia Wu

Just some photos of Bei Jia and Chia Wu, members of theme 10.


Hakim got sick during the first few weeks and he had to go to the hospital which is located inside the school compound.

The members of theme 10 – Industrial Design are mostly Engineering Systems and Design (ESD) students, 10 out of 13 of us to be exact. We all signed up for this theme thinking that we would be doing something more system related. However it ended up being more like product design. Although it was not what we expected, it was still a good experience. Our theme members interned in three companies, namely Feish (飞鱼工业设计公司), Bole (博乐工业设计公司) and TOOUT (凸凹工业设计公司). We worked on integrated kitchen appliances, lighting and culture, and lighting and emotions respectively. We went through the entire design process, from ideation to realisation. We picked up a lot of software skills including Rhino, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign and these skills are useful for us in the future especially during our pillar years.

Feish (飞鱼工业设计公司)

At Feish (飞鱼工业设计公司)

Feish (飞鱼工业设计公司)

Another photo at Feish (飞鱼工业设计公司)

Bole (博乐工业设计公司)

Bole (博乐工业设计公司)

Bole (博乐工业设计公司) office

Bole (博乐工业设计公司) office

At Bole (博乐工业设计公司)

At Bole (博乐工业设计公司)

TOOUT (凸凹工业设计公司)

TOOUT (凸凹工业设计公司) office

Group photo at TOOUT (凸凹工业设计公司)

Group photo at TOOUT (凸凹工业设计公司)

At TOOUT (凸凹工业设计公司)

At TOOUT (凸凹工业设计公司)

We also practised sketching (by starting with line-drawing) at the beginning. Sketching is an effective way to convey thoughts and ideas and it is very useful if we are able to sketch well.

IxDC At a museum

In order to gain more understanding and knowledge about design, we have been on some outings. Some of us went for the IxDC talks which were held in Hangzhou this year. The Bole group visited many museums so as to get inspiration.

At a prototyping company

In order to produce the prototype, we had to work with an external company. We went down to the prototyping company to confirm our design before we started production. It was truly a good experience as we were working directly with a Chinese firm. Luckily for us, we have Han Xiao in our group so communication was not much of a barrier.

SUTD Provost at our exhibit

SUTD Provost at our exhibit

To conclude, the entire ALP experience was a very rewarding one. Being in a different environment forced us to break boundaries (such as using Chinese as the main language) and exposed us to a culture that is unlike our own. What I liked about the Chinese as I could see in the ZJU mentors and teachers is that they were ready to help even if it meant having less sleep. They were very passionate in what they do and I really appreciate the help they gave us.

GLP – The Sun Sets

14 Aug

by Terence Chew

The sun sets beautifully as the day comes to an end, a scenic view for appreciating the fruitful day that went by. Similarly, as GLP drew to a close, here’s to consolidating some of our experiences and growth that were wrapped up in our last week.


Growth as friends: bonded through experiences, collaborations and challenges.

Despite many, many competitions posted to us, we never failed to help each other out and to seek opportunities for collaboration. It is indeed rare to be part of such a diverse group that truly looks out for one another; better united than divided.


Growth as game designers: game design, user experience, understanding and applying game mechanics and dynamics. Also not to mention, Starcraft.

We thought fun games were easy to make. Yet, what we thought was fun may not have ended up being fun when others play it. Through trial testing each other’s games, we certainly learned much from them and from our insightful instructor, Philip Tan.


Growth as sketchers: learning to draw without holding back

Thanks to plenty of encouragement from our instructor Sam Magee, many of us learned to draw more boldly and to use our hands to convey what we see – 3D to 2D. From pencil to charcoal to ink, from the dome exterior to the dome interior to the panoramic sketch of Charles River, we grew comfortable and confident in drawing.


Growth as independent individuals: living abroad for 10 weeks

Cravings for Asian cuisine, handling household chores, long distance Skype calls and sending postcards are just some of the things that remind us of home. We are learning so much and having so much fun but our hearts still yearns for home. Great living and learning experience.


Growth in ceramics: learning the delicate skills behind ceramics and some life skills

Ceramics taught us more than its techniques. We learned patience from failures. We learned to take control gracefully when things go out of hand. We learned to feel.  We learned so much from the master potter Jay, he’s really the best – his ever-so-graceful demos and sincere attention gave us dramatic improvement in ceramics. It was all ~ good good ~

I will certainly miss…


… waking up to the wonderful view of the Charles River right in front of me.


… the feeling that you can create anything, here at MIT

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… the extensive libraries

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… the seafood

… the endless possibilities

The list goes on…

Also, we must thank…


… our meticulously caring and helpful MIT hosts! Also, our heartfelt gratitude to everyone both at SUTD and MIT, for making this experience possible for the 28 of us. We have truly learned so much, some inspiring experiences, some life-changing even. The experience has definitely enriched us.

But alas, it’s time to return home!


Last Week of GLP

11 Aug

by Olivia Seow

Everything’s drawing to a close. Go-Karts have been raced (gold kart got first place — by the margins of human error (0.01s)!) and ceramics glazed.






More than anything. I’m really thankful to have been given this opportunity. The folk at SUTD (upper management & GLP in-charges, etc), Jon, Kate, and Varsha have put in so much effort into making this a worthwhile experience. Even though we’re the guinea pigs of this exchange program, I’d say it was a good run 🙂

Juniors, if you ever have the chance to meet the following people, give them lots of love ‘cause they are AWESOME!

Charles G – he was in charge of the go-kart challenge. He knows all the nuts and bolts about making absolutely anything and is really generous with his skills and knowledge. I am super inspired by him.

Dara – she’s really passionate about education, and she’s the to-go person if you’re interested in engaging others to dream big and change the world through technology & design.

Jay – MASTER POTTER >> changes lumps of clay into beautiful works of art. He’s a super cool dude with a spark of energy about him! He was also really supportive of my project (the Easy Ring), and helped me model the rings — hoorah!

Jennifer – our writing instructor; this lady knows her stuff. She was genuinely interested in guiding us, helping us mould our writing to become pieces we can be proud of 🙂 Do look for her if you want any extra help with your own writing too, you’ll be amazed at how she can open your eyes to your own writing.

Certainly, the list does not end here. At Global Leadership Programme (GLP), we were lucky to meet so many great people who were generous, insightful, mind-blowingly intelligent yet humble and down-to-earth, whether they be art maestros or start-up wizards. My heart is so full from the brilliance of these folk, and I’m personally compelled to learn, see, and do more!

IDC Robocon – A photo recap

11 Aug

By Zuda Ng

A quick photo recap of my days in Brazil!

Day 0

Our Hotel Room

Day 1

Amazing Park in USP
With my teammate

Day 2

The Cafeteria’s Food! Standard meal (Rice + Beans + Salad/Vegetables + Meat + Fruit/ Dessert + Drinks)

Day 5

First night we ventured into the vibrancy of Sao Paulo!
Friendly Subway attendant that brought us to the main avenue.
First hand experience at the very nice and expensive Rubaiyat! But the experience was really awesome! Worth every single centavos!
The snack hut with interesting local delights!

Day 6

Street Market of Sao Paulo
Meat and Cheese filling! What more to ask for!
Road Side stall that sells “Chicken Rice” and “Sashimi”
Paulista Avenue
Paulista Avenue Pedestrian walkway!
Ibirapuera Park Monument
The Lake near the entrance!
Duckling Swan Geese spotted!
Space Observatory Museum in the park
Incredible performance by the carnival performers!
Jaw-Dropping Stunt! Head-stand!
Obelisk like structure near the park
Auditorium in the park
Entrance to the Auditorium
Skaters Haven in the park
Best Soda Ever! Guarana!
Lip Smacking Burger!

Day 11

Chilling out and experience how local enjoy their football games! (Sao Paulo vs Corinthians)

Day 12

Final Group photo
Competition Ground
Ramen at the Japan Festival
Churrasco (Grilled Meat) @ Fago Da Chao
My own interpretation of the word! (Japan Festival)
Touching down!!!
Souvenirs from friends in Brazil!

ALP – National Day

10 Aug

By Benjamin Lee

Hi everyone,

It’s not every year that we’re a few thousand kilometres away from home on national day. Nevertheless, we still got together (and got the live stream working) to catch the parade. So without further ado, here are a few photos of this special occasion. Wishing one and all a Happy (belated)* National Day.

* At this point of writing.

SUTD gathering in IDI to watch the live stream.

SUTD gathering in IDI to watch the live stream.

Because the lounge was too crowded.

Because the lounge was too crowded.

Happy National Day! (though not everyone is in red and white)

Happy National Day! (though not everyone is in red or white)

And of course, what's national day without some fireworks.

And of course, what’s national day without some fireworks.

GLP – Ordinary week with an extraordinary experience

25 Jul

By Yi Sheng

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In our architectural drawing class, all of us sketched a panoramic view of the scenery along Charles River, when viewed from Memorial Drive. It was a challenge indeed to combine together all our individual drawings, which are of different styles. We added a whole lot of interesting graphics to the final sketch, which comprises Godzilla, minions from Despicable Me and even a Pacific Rim robot. I realized that after the sketch was completed, it was a piece that conveyed so much vibrancy and movement, which were presented in a variety of styles. I really liked how we worked together to produce a single masterpiece.



Want to take a look at the our masterpiece? Check it out at the SUTD Facebook page and give us your comments.

The E-Club session comprised two parts: a workshop on communication and a discussion on ethics and conflict. We really had fun during the workshop, where each of us expressed a statement in various tones of voice.


I personally agreed to help as a “test subject” for Aarti’s research on whether sketching improves one’s ability to tackle design problems. During the 30-minute design challenge that I was tasked to complete, I was not allowed to sketch. This compelled me to visualise a few preliminary designs in my mind, from which I selected the final design. As the objective is to design a mechanism to vertically displace a ping pong ball as much as possible, I built a tower that has an axle on top.  The ping pong ball is then raised to a height of more than 40 centimetres by a simple pulley system that makes use of a 500g load. I had lots of fun, and this was far more valuable than the five-dollar Amazon Gift Voucher that I received.


The Media Lab visit was indeed an eye-opener for most of us, as we get to see how designers who work there play with Lego and music instruments to create new and innovative products that have their unique relevance to our lives. For instance, the sensor attached to the basketball hoop that measures the amount of force exerted by the player during a dunk actually aroused the interest of the NBA. This technology has currently been used in some of the NBA games played. How fascinating!

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On the same day at night, we visited Rethink Robots, which has a famous product called Baxter, a robot of which arms have seven degrees of freedom of movement. This actually allows picking up objects to be easier and more efficient. We enjoyed testing the robot’s reaction to unexpected situations. There’s definitely a lot of high-level programming that went on in the development of Baxter’s “brain”!

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Terence, Dexter and I went to watch the MIT Summer Philharmonic Orchestra at the auditorium inside Kresge Building. They performed two pieces: Symphony No. 2 in B minor composed by Alexander Borodin and Symphony No. 9 in E minor, From the New World, Op. 95 composed by Antonin Dvorak.  The concert lasted for one hour, with George Ogata conducting the entire orchestra. I thoroughly enjoyed the two pieces, although I believe that the orchestra can improve on coming in together at significant moments of the pieces. That being said, I feel that it is really challenging to try to conduct a whole orchestra consisting of so many people.


To supplement the learning that we have during ceramics lessons, Dexter, Jin Kai and I went to get our hands wet and dirty at the ceramics lab on Saturday. I managed to improve my skills slightly, in the area of centering my clay, although there is still much more room for improvement. Nonetheless, my interest in ceramics never seems to diminish; I will never give up in making more interesting pieces!


IDC Robocon – Day 10 – Last day of preparation

19 Jul

By Jarede (Portuguese) [Jared Ying]

Today was the last day of preparation before our seeding contests tomorrow. Everybody was busy making modifications to their robots. As for my team, we were still troubleshooting the programming of the robot and the boat which does not travel straight.


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I had an inspiration from Tamiya motor cars which I played when I was a kid. The car had rollers in front to keep it from going off track. Hence my team decided to improvise and place rollers in front of the boat to ensure it will travel in a straight line and it turned out to be a good.



After lunch, we came upon these group of students who were doing a promotional video for their project. We decided to take a picture with them in their unique costumes.



The local students told us this ” You haven’t been to Brazil, if you haven’t catch a live soccer match.”. Hence, in the evening they brought us to a local bar at Villa Mandelela to catch a live soccer match between Corinthian FC vs Sao Paulo FC. The area was similar to Holland Village where there were a lot of restaurants and bars along the street. They were all screening soccer matches at the same time also. The people in there were cheering on for their teams to score goals. The atmosphere was good.

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Before I went to bed, I received a message from my Mum. She wanted me to take good care of myself, so in order to ease all her worries I decided to send her this picture (below).


Khalil, our local friend, jokingly said, “I am never wrong. The only time I was wrong was when I thought I was wrong.”. Great thanks to these 2 local friends of ours, Luiz and Khalil who brought us so much fun and for bringing us around Sao Paulo.

Mohan, Luiz, Glenn, Jared, Khalil (right to left)

Mohan, Luiz, Glenn, Jared, Khalil (right to left)