Growing real solutions to real-world problems

(From far left) Singapore Polytechnic students Tan Gim Yeow, Tan Yi Xuan, Chua Yong Chuan and Louis Szeto Hao Xuan with their urban farming kit, a multi-tiered rotating pot holder that allows more plants to be grown in a given space. WATCH THE VIDEO
(From left) Singapore Polytechnic students Tan Gim Yeow, Tan Yi Xuan, Chua Yong Chuan and Louis Szeto Hao Xuan with their urban farming kit, a multi-tiered rotating pot holder that allows more plants to be grown in a given space. ST PHOTO: NIVASH JOYVIN

One-third of student projects at S'pore Poly show created in response to industry requests

From a rotating "urban farming kit" inspired by the Singapore Flyer to an alarm to deter and track bicycle thieves, more final-year projects at Singapore Polytechnic (SP) have been designed in response to requests from industry partners.

Since 2014, there has been a 10 per cent increase in the number of industry-linked projects displayed at SP's annual engineering show, which ends today. They comprise about a third of the 94 final-year projects on display this year.

SP's deputy principal Lim Peng Hun, 56, said: "Students will be a lot more motivated if they are solving real-world problems."

While the students are not paid for their work, Mr Lim said he would not rule out the possibility of royalties in the future for commercialised work.

The urban farming kit, devised by a team of four aeronautical engineering students, is a multi-tiered rotating pot holder, about 3m high, that resembles a Ferris wheel. Itallows more plants to be grown in a given space.

PRACTICAL INVENTIONS

Students will be a lot more motivated if they are solving real-world problems.

SINGAPORE POLYTECHNIC'S DEPUTY PRINCIPAL LIM PENG HUN

It rotates on its own and can be paused so that the user - be it a child or an elderly person - can tend to the plants at a height he is comfortable with. It also comes with an automatic irrigation system.

Team member Chua Yong Chuan, 19, said: "We want to make farming fun... Why not explore using the 'Singapore Flyer' to grow crops?"

Kampung Senang Charity and Education Foundation, which signed a memorandum of understanding with Singapore Polytechnic in November 2015 for mobility-aid services, will use the farming device at one of its centres in May.

Mr Vernon Sun, 46, community partnership manager for the foundation, said: "It's good to cultivate in youngsters a sense of community."

Another device at the show is the "smart bike alarm". It was requested by security company Adsec Singapore and designed by three students. It is aimed at cyclists who leave their bicycles unattended for a short while.

The alarm will sound when it senses that the parked bicycle is being moved for a prolonged period of time. Coordinates of the bike's location are then sent to the owner.

Adsec Singapore's general manager Geoffrey Foo, 50, who is a cycling enthusiast, said the company plans to commercialise the alarm, with modifications, by early next year.

Mr Lim added: "These prototypes need to be validated by our industry partners. We want the learning experience to be as authentic as possible, beyond the prototype."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2017, with the headline 'Growing real solutions to real-world problems'. Print Edition | Subscribe