Singapore International Water Festival

2 Jul 2011                           

It seems that age is no barrier when it comes to being concerned about the environment we live in. The Sembcorp Water Technology Prize national competition held at the NEWater Visitor Centre on 2 July 2011 saw applicants from the various high schools and junior colleges competing against one another to bag the prestigious award.

Sponsored by Sembcorp Industries and jointly organised by PUB – Singapore’s national water agency, Nanyang Technological University (NTU)’s Singapore Membrane Technology Centre and Singapore Polytechnic (SP), the annual event aims to encourage and guide students in developing potential solutions to address challenges facing the water industry today.

Experts from the aforementioned organisations were invited to form the judging panel. Dr Adrian Yeo, Research Fellow at NTU’s Singapore Membrane Technology Centre also graced the event as guest-of-honour. The founder of MINT (Membrane Instruments and Technology) at NTU is best known for having invented a simple membrane filter that was later shipped to victims of the Indonesia tsunami in 2004.

In his opening address, Dr Yeo expressed the importance of cultivating young water experts and that “Things are not that difficult, but also not that easy.”

Yet, as I stand in a room decorated with water tanks overflowing with seemingly endless strings of tubes and complex apparatuses, I wonder, “Just where is the easy part?”

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An innovative use of household items in their experiment

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Another innovative use of household items in their experiment

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Students doing their last round of inspection before the competition starts

However, I was quick to retract that thought. The students proved through sound rationalisation and demonstrations that membrane filtering need not be an intimidating task to take on with some incorporating mundane items such as parts of an electronic mixer and plastic bottles into their proposed system.

As exemplified by these students, it doesn’t take someone with a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) or a master’s degree to make a change, just a burning passion and resolution to commit – now that’s the hard part.

By Sandy Lai
Singapore Polytechnic

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