First Day!

1)  What did you do today?   
In the first half of the day, we went through a briefing conducted by our teacher mentor, Professor Tan Lay Poh. She told us more about materials in our everyday lives, including composites, sports materials, nano materials, bio-materials and many others! Other than that, she gave a short explanation of how NTU's Engineering and Material Science school came to what it is today. Lastly, she talked about the itinerary, as well as the Professors who would be conducting the experiments with us. We then split up into our various groups. Mine was 8-1. 

Our first activity was the tensile testing of engineering materials. It was conducted in the Undergraduates Lab and we were guided by Professor Huang Jing Feng. He was an engineer and walked us through the basics of engineering materials. Other than that, through the slides, he mentioned several terms and graphs (which we had to take note when testing). After that, we started on the activity! First of all, we tested for aluminium. 
The procedure was as follows; 
1) Double tap on the trapezium icon on the desktop of the computer
2) Username and password is admin.
3) Click open and then 'C-drive'
4) Click on SST-June 2014 then double click on SST 2014 (you will be directed to Method Wizard)
5) Click next all the way!
6) On the machine, screw the specimen into it (make sure that it is straight)
7) Click Manual, then down (position it carefully)
8) When the machine is close, slow down and make sure the clam is able to fit the specimen in.
9) Close the clam and tighten when specimen is inside.
10) Click Manual again and press the two zeros (under force and under position)
11) Go to the computer and click start, begin test.

This had to be repeated 6 times. For the aluminium test, it broke in two parts in a span of 1.5 minutes!  Of course, we were wearing safety goggles while doing this. The second time, it was plastic, it broke really quickly, in around 45 seconds. The third material we tested was pretty elastic. Despite the timing on the graph (over 30 minutes), it extended itself and did not break! We felt that it was durable  and flexible, unlike most materials.

Thereafter, we went for the next activity, which was 'Composite Material Processing'. As we sat through the screening of the slides, we had gotten a better understanding of composites and what they are used for in our daily lives. In this activity, we had the chance to fabricate the composite materials. We had to mix substances to form glue. After that, we started forming up the materials, stacking them one by one and gluing the cloths (either black or white). We had a fun time and the composite materials would be heated up, returned to us tomorrow to keep!

Lastly, we went for a tour around the labs! We looked at the actual chromatography machines and the engineers at work. Other than that, we were introduced to the many projects that NTU has worked on over the years, inventions were also showcased, which inspired and shocked us as young teenagers (18 years to 21 years) were capable of creating this.

2)  What did you learn today?
For the tensile testing of engineering materials, we learnt some new scientific terms. Some of them are strain, which is basically deformation per unit length and stress, which is resistance per unit area of deformation. To calculate strain, it is e=deltal/l [*e=strain, l=original length, deltal=change of length in body] To calculate stress, it is p=P/A [*p=intensity of stress, P= load of force acting on body, A=cross-sectional area of body] Other than that, we learnt how to tell whether the materials are brittle (sudden with no warning) or ductile (has some stretching which takes time). In order to tell, we first need to analyse, then test it out! Lastly, we learnt that we need to work together, follow the procedures and trouble-shoot when problems arise. This is so as there are many steps in order to complete something, if we do not comply, then the experiment might go wrong. When problems arise, we should not just sit there and wait for a miracle to happen, instead, we should be trying our best to solve it, so that we can progress along.

For the composite material processing. We learnt the basics of it. These include what they are made of (fibres-main, matrix-protect from external damage and fillers-furher enhance properties of material). We were also exposed to the classification of composites chart (as seen below)

Why composites? Well, the answer is simple! It is because it is lighter, stronger, have favourable properties and are relatively easy to shape. Through this activity, we learnt that we must be careful, precise and have communication within a team. This is so as when handling the glue, we must be careful enough to put the suggested amount and not more, if not the rest of the other parts will not have enough glue and the whole experiment will be a mess. Other than that, communication within a team is important as we had to flatten out the glue such that it was even etc. We had to tell the group which direction to smudge to and which areas to pour the glue to.

3) How do you feel about today’s activities? 
I felt that today's activities were rather eventful as I have gained a lot of knowledge and irreplaceable experiences at NTU. I learnt that communication within a team and having confidence in the experiment is very important. We have to be confident in whatever we do as we must believe that we are able to succeed. Other than that, I felt that the activities have brought my group closer to each other. Although we come from different classes (well one of us), we were still able to bond and get along. This is crucial as we will be working with each other for the next two days. When in a group, we need to co-operate too, which means having a strict sense of disciple. Also, in the process of conducting the project, we need to ensure that we do not get distracted. 

Lastly, I hope tomorrow's activity will be eventful too and that the presentation will go as planned. Till tomorrow! 

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