Sunday, November 9, 2008

Last blog post

At the beginning of this semester, I was pondering about which modules should I take. I thought about whether this module was suitable for me. My first impression was that this module should be rather useful and practical since it would be teaching on how to write resumes and handle job interviews. On the other hand, I was also aware that the workload of this module would be rather heavy since there would not be a final exam as most of the assessment would be done through ongoing assignments.

True enough, it turns out that this module is very useful indeed and I managed to pick up a lot of skills and knowledge. Besides knowing how to write resumes and handle job interviews, I have also learned on how to give a good and effective presentation and other non-verbal communication skills. Even though the research project was tough indeed, I was glad that I had also gained some skills and considerations on how to produce a good report.

This module is one of the most enjoyable modules that I had taken so far in varsity. I enjoyed the interaction for the module as it allowed me to gain more insights through the different opinions and viewpoints being shared by everyone. I would also like to thank Brad for sharing with us some of his interesting experiences and anecdotes which helped to reinforce the communications concepts which were being taught.

I think this module would not have been so enjoyable without each and everyone of you. I'm glad that I got to meet new people through this module although it is regrettable that I did not have the opportunity to get to know everyone better. Now that this module is drawing to an end, I would like to wish everyone all the best in their final exams and their future endeavours :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wei Kwan's biodata

Wei Kwan is currently a NUS final year undergraduate majoring in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in Offshore Oil and Gas Technology. Due to his keen interest in the Marine industry, he has taken on projects and internships related to the industry to gain more exposure. Beside the academic realm, Wei Kwan is also an active participant in various cultural activities such as performing as an electric guitarist with his band, writing songs and singing in a choir. He has written songs for a hall theatrical production and showcased his songs on the ExxonMobil Campus Concerts. He enjoys listening to music, investing and reading in his free time.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How an engineer thinks and why I am beginning to dread it

I am writing this post perhaps to get something off the back of my mind that has been bothering me for quite a while and to explain clearly on what I meant on my previous post. Not long ago, my other half and I were musing about how much our way of thinking had changed ever since we entered varsity. She is currently working as an engineer in the IT industry and majored in electrical engineering. So in what ways have our way of thinking change ? It seems that our way of thinking has become more analytical and systematic and sometimes we often joked about how we can draw comparisons between us and the way a robot thinks :D

Let me try my best to explain how an engineer would probably think. For example, one is tasked to design a bicycle and bring it into mass production. So these are the thoughts that will probably go through his mind.

- Which is the cheapest and strongest material I can use ?
- What is the fastest time I can bring it to mass production ?
- Which design is the most efficient ?
- Which production process will bring about the least amount of wastage ?

As for the flow of thoughts, probably it will go something like that; design of the bicycle done ? Checked and move on to next task. Analysis of the design done ? Checked and move on to next task. Material chosen ? Checked and move on to next task and the list just goes on.

Now let me share on what goes through my mind when I was thinking about the research report.

- How to write the report concisely and in details without it being too taxing on the group ?
- How much time should be allocated to this portion of the report so that we can have enough time to move on to other essential tasks ?
- What is the most efficient way of doing our allocated task ?
- How can we analyze our report properly so that we can avoid doing more drafts which can help us to save time for other essential tasks ?

I hope you guys can see the similarities now. My education has influenced the way I think in ways so subtle that I have never realized throughout these years in school until recently and part of me is beginning to dread the way I think now. Maybe these differences can be due to the character of each unique individual but I do not think that I am too far off the line by suggesting that our education do influence the way we think.

To be able to think like this and being analytical is not such a bad thing after all perhaps. I am just slightly chagrined at how this way of thinking has permeate certain spheres of my life and change the way I perceive things now.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Reflections on Research Project

I must say that this research project has been a tough one so far. So far we had burned our previous weekend doing this project and even as I am typing my blog post now, we are still preparing the final draft of this research project. Overall, I have benefited greatly from doing this research project in ways which I did not anticipate.

My group members are from the Science faculty while I am from the Engineering faculty. Before we embarked on this project, I did not think that there would be any significant differences in the way we think since after all, we are around the same age and attend the same university. I found out that this is not that true after all. Perhaps due to my engineering education, I noticed that when we were writing the drafts of the report, I tend to focus on keeping things simple and doing things straight to the point. Moreover, I tend to emphasize on trying to do things efficiently in a systematic way. Thus I guess there were some minor differences when my group members have a different emphasis from mine in the sense that they were more meticulous about the details of this research project.

Overall, I begin to appreciate the the diverse viewpoints that each of us had and this helps to make our research report a more complete one. In a team, it is important to tap on the individual strengths of every group member.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Intercultural Differences

For this summer vacation, I was attached to a shipyard for my internship. In this shipyard, the workers were mainly from foreign countries such as India, Bangladesh or the nearby neighboring countries such as Myanmar. The majority of these workers were from Bangladesh.

At the entrance of the shipyard, there were numerous gantries which were similar to those being using in the MRT stations. Most of us who worked in the shipyard were given electronic passes which we would have to tap in at the electronic card reader located at the gantries to go in and out of the shipyard. At the end of the working day, all of us would queue up at the gantries to tap our cards so that we could leave the shipyard.

Usually the queues at the gantries would be very long since there were a few thousand workers working in the shipyard. I noticed that they often like to stand very close to each other when they are queuing up. Additionally, when the gantries were open, they would be shoving each other to make their way out of the shipyard. All these made me felt very uneasy as I felt that they were rather rude and they were standing too close to me for my comfort.

I guess this is one of the situations where there would be conflicts between different cultures. For the Bangladeshi workers, it did not occur to them that there was such a problem since it was part of their culture. Since I was not immersed into their culture before, I had problems accommodating to their behavior. Over the duration of my internship, I slowly got used to this and was no longer bothered by it at the end of my internship.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Perception and facts regarding biofuel

Biofuel has been gaining attention in the press recently as an alternative to fossil fuels. However, when one reads the news regarding biofuels, it is likely that person will come to the conclusion that it may not be such a good thing after all. This is because news such as the increase of food prices leading to food crises in the poorer countries as a result of the production of biofuel has been dominating headlines. Thus not a lot of people may know about the many advantages it has over fossil fuels.

There are some main advantages of using biofuel. The usage of biofuel will not contribute to carbon emissions as compared to fossil fuels. As we all know, carbon emissions leads to global warming and this can bring on other problems such as increasing sea levels and rising temperatures. Thus, the usage of biofuel will help to protect our environment. Moreover, it is a renewable resource. Biofuel is derived mainly from plant corps and plant corps can be replanted seasonally while fossil fuel is a finite resource. Thus this can help to alleviate the energy problem.

With regards to the problem of biofuel contributing to higher food prices, this can be solved by using the newer generations of biofuel. The problem was caused by the first generation of biofuel which uses food corps such as corn, sugarcane and maize. Since part of the food corps were used for biofuel, there were less food corps being made available for food supply which led to an increase in food prices. The newer generations of biofuel do not use food corps to produce biofuel thus this problem can be eliminated.

Given the increasing importance of biofuel, it will be important for students to know the facts about biofuel so that they can make informed decisions in the future. So do the students know enough about biofuel and what is their perception toward it ?

Hypothesis: NUS students do not possess enough knowledge about biofuel and their perception towards it has been negative.

Problem Statement: The objective of this research study is to determine how well students in NUS know about biofuel, their perception towards it and the factors that affects their perception.

Purpose Statement: The objective of this research study is to gather the results obtained from the survey and to forward them to the Energy Market Authority and the Economic Development Board. This is done so that they can be informed of the amount of knowledge that students possess regarding biofuel and their perception towards it. Biofuel has been identified as one of the the growing industries that Singapore will be committed to investing in due to the potential and the opportunities being offered. As such, this industry will require a lot of highly-qualified personnels. Thus there will be a need to attract talented students to join the industry. If the perception of the students towards biofuel is negative due to their lack of knowledge, this industry will have difficulties in attracting students. This research study will help to identify if this problem do exist.

Reason for conducting a survey: Doing a survey will be the best method to assess the knowledge the students possess and their perception towards biofuel. This is because questions can be asked in the survey and through this, we will be able to find out the exact reasons that affect their perception.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Resolving interpersonal conflicts

During my national service, I was a regimental policeman in a naval base. Our responsibility was mainly to ensure that security was not being compromised in the base. In short, our duties basically involve doing hours of sentry work and prowling around the base. We have to be on duty once every two weeks and were given an off the following day. When it came to the third week, our duty schedule was determined by the amount of manpower needed to fill up all the positions in the base. Thus if there was insufficient manpower, we will be activated back to base to be on duty at the discretion of our section commander JX. Weekends were very precious to us so we will go to great lengths to try to escape from doing duty on weekend.

I remembered that was one incident where JX had to activate 3 of us for duty on a particular Saturday. In our section, there were 7 of us including JX. So on Friday, he gathered all of us in our bunk to discuss who should be activated. Subsequently, he told us who he will be activating this Saturday. Naturally, those who were chosen turned defensive and argued with him, citing reasons such as they had did their fair share of duty previously and they already had appointments over the weekend. Then, JX changed his mind and ask those who were not chosen initially to volunteer for duty instead. Those people who were not chosen initially became upset on too on why they should volunteer for duty and started to argue back with JX. Out of frustration, JX spewed vulgarities at us and scolded us for being too selfish. In the end, he simply walked out of the bunk, leaving the rest of us to further debate on who should do duty instead.

I must admit JX was in a difficult position since he had to do the unpleasant task of selecting people for duty. Perhaps there is a better way of handling this type of situation. What will you do if u were placed in such a situation ? :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Effective communcations is important !

Developing effective communications is definitely of paramount importance. I had encountered all sorts of problems to do with communications for the past twenty-four years that I have existed on this planet. That ranges from telling my band members that the tone oozing out from their instrument does not sound too inspiring while he may think that I am trying to imply that he is lousy, to frequent quarrels with my other half in the past simply because her yes sometimes means a no or a yes perhaps while to me, it seems that a yes always means a yes whereas a no always represent a no.

In all the social spheres of our world, be it from the school to the workplace or back at home, communication processes affects us and they are everywhere. Thus it is important that we are able to articulate our thoughts and feelings properly to the other parties to prevent miscommunications. As we all know, miscommunications can be a very thorny issue to handle and it is much better if we can prevent that at the beginning to spare us from much anguish. Effective communications can also help us to exchange information and ideas more efficiently.

I always think that in this world, there are invisible walls that separate each individual apart. That wall can be made up of our experiences, culture, religion and the list just goes on and on. I hope for a world where all such walls can be broken down and a world where people can truly understand each other :)