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Empowering the Community with etc.lab

Final-year SDE students, Kwang Wei Xiong and Katherine Tay (from left to right), were part of the team of students who designed the kindergarten that was built during their YEP trip to Lombok, Indonesia this year. | Photo by Poh Li Ying Located at the lobby of the School of Design and Environment, etc.lab displays some of the past projects students have done for Youth Expedition Trips in this wooden structure. | Photo by Poh Li Ying The prototype of the kindergarten was given to the locals such that they could continue with the building of the infrastructure even after the students returned to Singapore. | Photo by Kwang Wei Xiong
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Final-year SDE students, Kwang Wei Xiong and Katherine Tay (from left to right), were part of the team of students who designed the kindergarten that was built during their YEP trip to Lombok, Indonesia this year. | Photo by Poh Li Ying

DE students go beyond designing in their classrooms

By Poh Li Ying

The etc.lab gives Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Design & Environment (DE) students the opportunity to put their skills to test with real-life projects, benefiting both Singaporean and foreign communities.

Initiated by DE in 2016, etc.lab hopes to solve societal problems through the design of infrastructure and products. Etc stands for empowering the community.

Mr Raja Mohammad Fairuz, co-chair of etc.lab, says that they started the lab because they were already working on projects that benefit local and overseas communities. The school felt they “needed to have better branding, and also consolidate all the efforts together under this lab”.

He adds: “It also allows students to apply whatever they have learnt in school and in the modules, and use it to solve real-world problems. So this is what we would like to encourage [as] I feel that it is relevant to tie back to [the students] learning.”

From Mar 12–26 this year, 30 students from DE and School of Humanities & Social Sciences set off for Lombok to help in building an earthquake-resistant kindergarten for the local community.

The design team consisted of 10 Diploma in Sustainable Urban Design & Engineering (SDE) students. Working with a budget of $4,000, the team studied the materials to be used and came up with the design idea within two weeks.

Katherine Tay, 19, a final-year SDE student, shares that this was the first building she designed that was implemented in real life. However, she is uncertain about its ability to withstand an actual earthquake.

Despite this, Katherine says that it is a privilege to be able to use the skills she has learnt in school to help others.

“We actually get to practise what we learn, and not wait a few years, [letting] what we learnt get rusty, but really putting it to use [immediately].”

Etc.lab will be embarking on a Build Expedition to build infrastructures in Lombok from Jun 12–18. Students who missed signing up for Build Expedition can look out for the next trip to Lombok during the term break in September.

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