A*STAR Graduate Scholarship (AGS)

AGS Nicholas Tan

In the quest to unlock boundaries in the manufacturing sector with the help of Science

As an avid craftsman, Mr Nicholas Tan, a 4th year PhD candidate at the National University of Singapore chose to pursue his passion in riveting world of microstructures in mechanical engineering. Microstructures are heavily integrated into many devices that are familiar to us all, from the sensors in automated lighting systems to the flashlight in our phones. These structures that enhance the ability of our devices passively can easily be taken for granted. As technology becomes smaller and smarter, the ability to design and fabricate these little complex and intricate structures becomes ever more necessary to advance society. Finding solutions to the challenges faced at the forefront of technology and bringing hope to unlocking the boundaries of manufacturing gives Nicholas immense satisfaction knowing that he may one day impact the lives of others too.

As an AGS Scholar, he continues to push for Singapore’s technological development as a thriving manufacturing industry, leveraging A*STAR’s affiliations and multiple opportunities to travel to international conferences to meet with highly distinguished researchers and to experience interesting exchanges with like-minded researchers. These experiences allowed him to forge new friendships as well as to grow personally and professionally.

The A*STAR Graduate Scholarship enables me to not only develop independently as a young researcher, but also gives me the opportunity to interact with world-renowned researchers, providing a head start into the field of research.

Advice to upcoming scholars
Starting a PhD can be tough, Nicholas suggests to those considering it to get to know the research landscape, network, and take guidance from mentors. Keen interest in research will make the application process a lot easier, especially the interviews.

Quick tip for mechanical engineers, your talents are widely appreciated in research and development due to the versatility in critical thinking, creativity, and application. This allows for mechanical engineering talents to be deployed in a wide variety of fields such as manufacturing, materials, robotics and automation, where acquired hardware knowledge and programming skills honed during your PhD would become invaluable assets for many upcoming industrial applications.

Inspiration outside work life
Nicholas is not all work and no play, going on challenging hikes and creating beautiful pieces of art occupies his free time when he is not in the lab.

There is only one way to find out.

That is the motto Nicholas goes by during work. When in doubt, either search for answers on the web, or try things out. There are times where the results surprises him and may result in something promising! This includes taking up the challenge of embarking on his PhD journey. Challenge yourself and you might learn things not only about your interest, but also about yourself that you would not have learnt otherwise.

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