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NTU EEE students light art exhibits featured in "i Light Marina Bay 2018"

Some students of NTU EEE participated in the “i Light Marina Bay” light art festival this year, having their works displayed to the public! The festival is held around Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay waterfront and showcases installations created by artists from Singapore and around the world. The event started out in 2010 and reinforces an important message on sustainability, advocating an environmentally-responsible society and way of life. In its sixth edition this year, the festival runs from 9 March – 1 April 2018.

The students, who formed two groups, collaborated on two separate exhibits with students from the school of Art, Design and Media (ADM). The exhibits are named “Light Play” and “Starlight” respectively. We spoke to the NTU EEE team members about their unique and valuable experiences.

LIGHT PLAY ​


[Location: Lower Board Walk
Sustainability is essential to various parts of our lives, including our well-being, happiness and health. Revolving around the theme of well-being and social sustainability, Light Play encourages relaxation through play. With social interaction as an indirect outcome of play, we hope visitors will open up and chat with fellow visitors in the midst of engaging with the installation. Light Play is a simple reminder for our audiences to loosen up and get in touch with the child in them.]

The following NTU EEE students worked on the “Light Play” exhibit: Mr Farhan Arif Bin Abdul Razak, Mr Zhao Xiangling and Mr Than Duc Thang (all IEM, Year 3)

What was your role and what were the preparations made?

Farhan: At the first stage, my team spent most of the time understanding the codes left by the previous group. We made sure to know how the entire program worked. Arduino was the main program used for this project. As some of us were unfamiliar with it, we “brushed up” on our Arduino language skill during the term break.

The next stage was working closely with our ADM student counterparts. They went through with us the design aspect of the installation. For example, the "light sequence" and the colour of the lights.

After agreeing with how the whole installation would work, we then proceeded to identify the hardwares needed. We surveyed different types of LED strips. Programmable, non-programmable, "RGB" and even "RGBW" LED strips. Apart from that, we also identified the power supplies needed for the installation, the sensors needed to activate the "light sequence". At the same time, we also tweaked the codes to the desired outcome.

Lastly, we went on-site to set up the installations and also tested to make sure that all were working correctly.

Xiangling: I am in a team of three. The ADM students mainly took care of the aesthetic design, while my team needed to conceptualise the real implementation. My role focused on both software and hardware requirements.

For the first stage, we designed the interaction and light patterns with the ADM students. When we completed the “whole picture”, we created several use cases. After that, we implemented our use cases into codes and tested them out in a small scale model. Before the on-site setup, we designed the hardware diagram, prepared all the LED strips and wires, and made sure they were working well.

How did you come to be involved in this project?

Farhan: I enrolled for the Design and Innovation Project (DIP) module in this current semester and was informed early on that the projects would be showcased at this year's i Light festival.

Xiangling: This is under our year 3 DIP module.

Do highlight some interesting moments?

Farhan: When we were setting up the installations at Marina Bay, there were occasions when locals and even tourists came by and asked what we were doing. We told them about the i Light event and most of them could not wait to see the end result of our installation. Some of them even marked down on their calendar so that they would not miss the festival!

Xiangling: A highlight for me would be “camping” in Marina Bay and working through the whole night. My teammates and I enjoyed the beauty of the area and even camped overnight again before the opening day. Another interesting thing to not that is that we set up everything on-site from scratch by ourselves! For example, we went under the base of the installation and connected all the wires ourselves.

Any suggestions and why/why not would you recommend future similar projects?

Farhan: I would definitely recommend future similar projects to other students. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. You'll be able to gain knowledge at the same time. I knew nothing about LED strip before this. But now, I can tell you the different types of LED Strips that Sim Lim Tower has. Apart from that, it'll be a great boost for your resume.

Xiangling: I would recommend future similar projects.

STARLIGHT


[Location: Esplanade Power Station

Most of the world lives under light-polluted skies. In 2016, scientific journal Science Advances published an article naming Singapore the most light-polluted country in the world, a country in which 100% of the population is exposed to light pollution. Light pollution not only hides the sight of stars but also robs us of our privacy and a good night’s sleep as one’s surroundings are bright all the time. Starlight brings the light from the stars back in the heart of the city. Before getting drowned in the light pollution of the cities, starlight used to mesmerize the people. Is it possible for our actions to bring back the stars? Starlight prompts viewers to ask how we, as humans, can come together as a community to make a change.]

The following NTU EEE students worked on the “Starlight” exhibit: Ms Chen Wenxin, Ms Hao Anran and Ms Gao Youyou (all IEM, Year 3)

What was your role and what were the preparations made?

Wenxin: The three of us cooperated together from the design of circuit, software use case and materials purchasing list, the hardware and software program, and to the final integration.

I mainly focused on initial code programming testing, city LED strips connection design and testing with program, sensor testing with code, and final installations.

Anran: I participated in the concept design discussions, the installation process, and helped fix technical problems in both the hardware and coding.

How did you come to be involved in this project?

Wenxin: I chose this semester to clear my DIP course, at the same time, my NTU EEE professor offered this chance for me to grab the experience of working on a real-world and substantial project.

Anran: It is required for one of our courses – IM3080 DESIGN & INNOVATION PROJECT (DIP).


Do highlight some interesting moments?

Wenxin: This is the first time for me to work on an outdoor exhibition project. During the preparation, I was new in hardware soldering and connection. For me, hardware calculations and skills were only learnt from books and lessons before this.

After working two weeks non-stop and even overnights in the lab and on site, the moment that the whole project lit up for the first time, with the stars on top looking really shiny and cool, I felt a strong sense of satisfaction that all the work done had been worth it.

During the final installation at the venue, we had to cope with the wet, rainy weather. The night before, most of the wires and cables had not connected and we didn’t sleep well. We rushed down the next day in the early morning, and it rained on and off the entire day. We had to cover the projects while working underneath the coverings, testing the installations and power supplies. At the same time, we had to protect the electricity and equipment from the water, and did not give much thought about our comfort and well-being.

Even though the environment was wet, the three of us focused determinedly on our tasks, to complete the installation. In the end, we had to work overnight! It was such a valuable memory and experience to me.

Anran: We soldered and hot-glued so many things, including LEDs (more than 120), LED strips, transistors etc., that we almost became experts.

It really took teamwork to complete the whole project. We spent a good amount of time together. It is through the actual working processes that one can see who is responsible and committed, who is suitable for handling which kind of tasks, who is capable, etc.

Youyou: We worked overnight many times, soldering all single LEDs, LED strips and circuit boards. Even after the installation moved to Marina Bay from the labs, we went down every day and stayed until very late at nights. A huge installation like ours needed a lot of work, sticking all the wires into the acrylic sheets took a lot of time. Everyone definitely contributed an immense amount of hard work.

We encountered a lot of difficulties, like the rainy days which prevented us from work on all the electrical things at first. We then borrowed a plastic cloth to cover the top while we worked underneath it.

Any suggestions and why/why not would you recommend future similar projects?

Wenxin: I recommend these kinds of projects in the future, because it is meaningful and better than just having lab sessions in school. Students need to deal with a lot of unexpected situations to learn too.

A suggestion for improvement would be that the team needed to have a clear and formal timeline to standardise the workload. It would have made the project execution more effective, reduce time wastage and prevent miscommunications among members.

Anran:

  1. This project was good to know teammates well, especially their strengths and motivations.
  2. Even though it was a school project, professionalism was still emphasised and adhered.
  3. Clear evaluation criteria would have been helpful to move the project progressively forward and prevent low standards or free riding by teammates.
Youyou: I will recommend. Although it was a difficult project, one will feel really proud when it's finished. It was also a good “training” for us to apply all the knowledge we have learned from the classrooms into real life!
 Gao Youyou(left), Chen Wenxin (middle) and Hao Anran (Right)
 


Published on: 29-March-2018 ​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​

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