This year, Singapore Polytechnic (SP) will be participating in the Singapore Mini Maker Faire (SMMF) with an integrated booth to showcase their diverse variety of makers. Below is a summary of our interview with the six featured makers, and an introduction provided by Dr Yeo Wee Kiang, Maker Coach, Singapore Polytechnic, who conducted a workshop at last year’s SMMF.
Makers from Singapore Polytechnic (SP) have been actively participating in their own capacities at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire since its first run. This year, SP is proud to participate as Team SP in one integrated booth which showcases the diverse capabilities and innovative talents from our various academic schools and student clubs. SP firmly believes that making is an important part of education today. We are actively promoting the maker movement within SP.
For example, Makerspace@SP has been set up in SP Library to promote curiosity-driven tinkering. In addition, an institution level facility the FabLab@SP has been setup and provides the technical expertise, trainings, tools, and machineries necessary for digital fabrication, and rapid prototyping. The Singapore Mini Maker Faire provides an excellent platform for makers from SP to connect with creative talents from the local Maker community and vice versa.
Jolyon P. Caplin (Big on the Mind but Light on the Pocket)
Jolyon is a familiar face at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire. For past visitors of the event, you might remember him for the Jolyonophone1, reason for the constant crowd at his maker booth at SMMF 2012, or for the colourful light displays at his Science-Art Fusion maker booth last year. This year, Jolyon who is a lecturer at SP’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, is returning with “Big on the Mind but Light on the Pocket” and he promises devices that will both be interactive and entertaining.
When asked about his thoughts on the Singapore maker scene, he noted that it is a good sign to see many maker events and facilities appearing, with good take-up as well. However, he felt that more people need to build the confidence to become really involved. This is something he felt could be improved. Do you agree with this?
His advice for interested makers-to-be would be to simply plunge in, find a more experienced maker first to see how things are done and build up the confidence, before dropping by a hardware shop to browse around and get ideas.
When asked about his challenges in making, Jolyon conceded that time is his biggest problem, as it would take a full 4 hours to really complete a project. I recalled him mentioning time as a challenge last year as well, and I believe this is a problem that many makers would have as well. Yet, despite so, Jolyon has still made it to the Singapore Mini Maker Faire with a variety of new showcases each year. Isn’t that a great example for all?
Tan Kok How (Dancing Robot)
Next, we would like to introduce Mr Tan Kok How from the SP Robotics Innovation Technology Enterprise (SP-RITE, a Student Club). Mr Tan will be showcasing a bioloid robot programmed to dance!
We asked Mr Tan to share his making journey and he told us the story of how he started with LEGO bricks from a tender age of 7 and progressed into robotics by the time he reached Secondary School. Joining the Robotics Club then provided him the chance to explore various types of robots and participate in competitions. It also opened the way for him to build robots out of LEGO Mindstorms and learn about simple electronics. Mr Tan shared that budget is his biggest challenge in his making journey because it is not easy to build a robot without sufficient funding. This has however brought the maker spirit out of him, when he innovated with the use of self-fabricated parts and parts from obsolete robots. Challenges always bring out the best in people, isn’t it?
When asked on his advice for budding makers, this was what he said:-
‘Life is full of mysteries and surprises. You must have that motivation and vision in whatever that you are doing in order for you to start and even more to continue. Also, willingness plays an important role. You are going to make something new or innovate something that is already out there. You will need a strong will in trying as “failing to try is trying to fail”.’
Liew Hui Sing (Development of the intermeshing Tandem Configuration VTOL UAV (Vertical Take-off and landing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) System)
Next, we would like to introduce Mr Liew Hui Sing from the SP School of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, who would be showcasing an intermeshing rotorblade helicopter. Want to see a flying machine at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire? Look out for Mr Liew’s booth.
Mr Liew shared with us that he began liking airplanes since he received his first foam airplane from his parents at about 8 years old. Since then, he had enjoyed making his own airplane out of any scrap materials he could find, until he became of age to join the Singapore Youth Flying Club Aero-modelling Club to learn how to build flying aircraft models. He continued to pursue his degree in Aerospace Engineering, worked in the aerospace industries and finally became a lecturer and course chair at SP to pass on his love for aeronautical engineering to the next generation.
Because of his love for aeronautics, things he has made naturally revolved around this theme, for example UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), Propulsion Systems like Rockets and Engines, and Motion Simulator System to give people the experience of flight. Interested to know more about what he has made? Do drop by his booth and speak with him!
Mr Liew also have some advice for those who are interested to pick up engineering. He felt that “it is about following your passion even though engineering necessitates doing the less glamourous work like ‘putting your hand in grease’”.
Michael Spicer (Spatial Controlled musical instrument)
Mr Michael Spicer is from the SP School of Digital Media and Infocomm Technology and he would showcase a project that adapts various spatial controllers to become semi intelligent musical instruments. Mr Spicer shared that he enjoyed building things and music since young and it naturally led to him creating various electronic music systems, using available resources. He usually build interactive music performance systems that tend to have large software component, but sometimes consists of a combination of sound generators and signal processors in novel combinations.
Mr Spicer advises new makers to start small and have fun, and to start with modifying something that exists as it would be an easier first project. He also reminded that things would never work right the first time, and noted that creating something is an exploratory activity, hence if you create exactly what you set out to do, you have probably overlooked an opportunity.
Isn’t that so true? Therefore it is important to keep the right spirit and attitude in the process of making and creating things!
SP Design School – Diploma in Interior Design [ SUPERSURFACE. ]
Next, we would like to introduce the Year 1 students from the SP School of Design – Diploma in Interior Design and their showcase of [ SUPERSURFACE. ], an ergonomics design project which was planned and carried out in collaboration with their lecturers Mr Muzammil Aziz, Mr Ivan Ho, Mr Foo Yoong Sheng, Ms Fiona Ho, Mr Tony Tan and Ms Janice Tan.
The design process comprises of four main stages where the students had to collect data, analyse, make prototypes and finally fabricate. The project which started as a study of human ergonomics ran for slightly more than three months.
On the maker scene in Singapore, Mr Muzammil and Ms Tan observed that there is now additional government support in terms of funding and initiatives, hence beneficial to the community of makers. However more publicity and outreach could be done to gain more traction both locally and internationally.
To young makers, their advice is to have passion, determination and perservance, as these are the factors that will bring one far.
Teo Shin Jen (Assorted Electronics and Digital Fabrication Projects)
Last but not least, the final maker from SP would be Mr Teo Shin Jen who is a lecturer at SP’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He also happened to be the first person interviewed for the Singapore Mini Maker Faire when it first started in 2012. In that blog post, we saw Shin Jen’s “see-say-do-it” spirit and his passion to use what he makes to inspire his students’ interest in learning programming, electronics, and computer engineering. This year, we see Shin Jen returning to the Singapore Mini Maker Faire again with his band of merry makers from SP Makers’ Club and the community members of FabLab@SP after his stint in UCL Computer Science Department, and Institute of Making, London last year.
Shin Jen’s focus is still the same and we applaud his efforts for making learning more applied. His emphasis, which I thought was notable, is that a maker should not concentrate on just making in solidarity, but involve the community around him or her (students in his case) to “DIT: Do It Together” by making things together. Here is a photo of Shin Jen’s class on making solar cooker for the children of SP’s staff.
1 The Jolyonophone is currently on display at Science Centre Singapore, Quirky Science Exhibition