A*STAR Research Internship Award (ARIA) awardee


hands-on research attachment that led to an incredible PhD journey

From Junior College to University, A*STAR Research Internship Award (ARIA) awardee (2021) and A*STAR Graduate Scholarship (AGS) Scholar (2022) Hamzah Kamaruddin has always striven to explore new ways to improve people’s lives through science and innovation.

That was why the first-class Hons. student embarked on the ARIA research attachment programme, which changed his impression about research—it is not a rigid endeavour but one that can be fun, exciting and meaningful at the same time.

Find out about Hamzah’s insightful experience with A*STAR:

  1. Why did you choose to a research attachment?
    I joined A*STAR to explore what research is really like in Singapore. Through ARIA, I found that research at Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre (ARTC) is actually about learning and mastering new skills that I could apply to many projects. I was able to take on a specific project in ARTC and was given the chance to lead the project under the exceptional supervision of my mentors.

    My ARIA project was titled “Heating Assisted Laser Metal Deposition of Metal Matrix Composites”. It was a study of how the incorporation of novel heating strategies can help reduce the cracking of composite materials using a relatively new additive manufacturing technique called laser metal deposition. My mentors guided me on progressing the project effectively and they continuously spurred me on despite a few setbacks along the way.


  1. What was your impression about research prior to joining the A*STAR Research Internship Award?
    Prior to joining ARIA, I used to think that research was an inflexible and linear journey. However, through my attachment I’ve seen that A*STAR researchers can make research really fun while they figured out solutions for complex problems.

    Helping each other out in the lab was also a great way to get to know people and forge friendships that last beyond the lab walls.


  1. What have your experiences been like as an ARIA Awardee?
    I was given many opportunities to grow as a researcher through continuous rounds of planning, experiments and learning from failures. These experiences are a steppingstone for me in my journey as a researcher. I was also able to independently ideate, manage, and execute my ARIA project to reduce cracking for composite materials.

    I see this project as a significant contribution to global sustainability efforts in reducing metal waste. From my project findings, cracking in remanufactured industrial parts can be avoided, therefore preventing the eventual scrapping of parts. These findings can help ARTC in developing technologies that support industry partners’ net-zero manufacturing efforts. I was also able to actively collaborate and build relationships with industry partners through the ARTC consortium, even before I joined the workforce. Along the way, I also garnered both technical and soft skills that are crucial for my career.


  1. How has ARIA benefited you, and what has been your favourite aspect of this award?
    The ARIA experience has made me confident in tackling difficult challenges. As a project leader, I was aware of the dos and don’ts of running a project. My mentors also instilled in me a mindset to be constantly thinking about scalability and throughput considerations to better translate my research into industry solutions in the future.


My favourite aspect about ARIA is the support and collaboration from experts at A*STAR who eventually helped me grow not only as a researcher, but as a person too.

  1. What motivated you to apply for A*STAR Graduate Scholarship (AGS)? How is it different from the ARIA programme?
    From the ARIA programme, I realised I enjoyed the many learning opportunities even though it was only a short stint with ARTC. I sought to further increase my knowledge of materials science and engineering through AGS. Compared to ARIA, the AGS PhD experience offers a deeper dive into the science behind what I had initially learned from my undergraduate studies while also training me to become a competent scientist in the future.

    Through AGS, I work closely with professors and experienced scientists from both A*STAR and local universities. As an AGS scholar, I also got to attend many research seminars, workshops and conferences organised by A*STAR, which allowed me to network while learning from experts in respective fields.

    I also become part of the A*STAR Scholars Network (ASN) which organises occasional get-togethers and provides the support of friends throughout my PhD journey.


  1. Would you recommend potential students to take up a research attachment before they decide on pursuing a PhD programme?
    Yes, I would highly recommend a research attachment with any A*STAR Research Institute, even if it is just for a short while. It provides a good opportunity for potential PhD applicants to see for themselves what the culture is like in A*STAR and whether they feel comfortable doing research in the first place. An attachment is also an excellent opportunity to learn from and build connections with full-time scientists and engineers in A*STAR.


  1. What are your top 2 takeaways that you would like to share with students in STEM?
    My top two takeaways are excellent exposure and wonderful opportunity to interact and network with researchers. My career mentors in ARTC have always been encouraging to me, and they were always there to give me advice on work, study and life.


  1. What are your career aspirations?
    My current PhD research area is in the use of nanotechnology to make energy applications such as hydrogen fuel cells more environmentally friendly while improving their performance. This research is poised as a pivotal contributor to alternative energy sources, which is a global environmental aim. I hope to join A*STAR after my PhD studies as a scientist and explore more on the applications of nanotechnology both in energy and biomedical applications.


  1. What advice would you give to interested candidates with regard to the application process?
    Prior to applying, it is good to have a strong mindset that your intention of joining is to increase your knowledge and to grow as a student. Throughout the application process, and even after being accepted into ARIA, this mindset is crucial to sustaining your growth. Although grades are important, approaching both ARIA and AGS with the right mindset is key to success in research.