Conversation with Dr Chen

This evening I had the chance to have a nice chat with Dr Chen Zhi Xiong, one of the RFs in the Hall. On top of his commitment to Hall life as a RF, he is a father of 2, an athlete, vice Dean of students in OSA, a researching professor….  Yet he was able to come down to support our swimmers in the IHG. Naturally, I am curious how he is able to manage his life so well, so I asked him what’s his secret.


“Marry a good wife”


I had expected an answer about good time management and goal setting but after some explanation it does make plenty of sense. She will be understanding of your commitments and will be supportive of your goals, as well as help you manage the family front. He added that his religious beliefs helped him as well.


He added that we should do things not for the sake of money or expectations from family or society which I clearly agree, but also that we should always have a clear goal for whatever we are doing, a deeper sense of purpose that can always lead us in the direction that we want to go to, even when the going gets really tough. There is also a technique of strategic withdrawal, which means taking a step back and evaluating what is really important to you. It helps you select the right projects to take on, and it helps that you reflect and learn from the projects that you have once undertaken.


There is also the point of overcoming popular opinion. Even if there are times when you feel that your opinion is against the world, you should always try and engage others in your opinion (if a relevant opportunity arises) instead of living in the fear that you are the only one with that thought. Often times, there are many others who have the same thought, but they also live in silence. All it takes is one person to speak up.


There are plenty of additional, smaller details that he said that I find to be very insightful and inspirational. I hope the reader will also be re-invigorated to tackle challenges in life and work towards his goal with renewed passion 🙂


KE Vision

KE Vision

It has been almost a year since Joshua and I took over Vision. As we get ready for the handing over to the next heads, it can be useful to reflect upon the happenings of the year; and while it is true that we should look to the future in our plans and aspirations, it is also good to reflect on the past and learn from our mistakes and build upon our strengths.

A brief history

From a small CCA with only approximately 10 people, KE Vision now has over 80 members, with a healthy dose of new members wishing to pick up photography as a skill or interest and even a sizeable group of semi-professionals. Arguably, the rise of KE Vision can be attributed to 3 years ago when Lex took over as Head, and alongside him were a team of competent seniors. Following him, Zong Xian and Eric sought to make photography interesting and attractive, frequently implementing photowalks to promote hands-on learning. They also started Faces of KE to increase the awareness of those working hard behind the scenes, as well as a tiny KE gallery outside Incub room.

Last year, Ruoyang and Kenneth decided to make the entire CCA more streamlined and efficient, implementing lessons taught by seniors, great administrative tools like a bell-curved attendance and major coverage points. Ruoyang also taught with passion and it is clear that many of us now would not be here without him.

The birth of the Exco

Given the fabulous job that our previous head had done, we had high expectations of us. If it was just the two of us, it is unlikely that we can match up to what he has done. However, we were determined to improve Vision even more, and thus recruited the help of like-minded seniors.

The team, consisting of Deon, Hao Yang, Jian You, Feng Shuo, Boon Long, Van, Tan Wei and Ruoyang himself, served not only as mentors but as a glue to keep members interested in Vision and photography and as our advisors as well. Given that it is our first time, it is not perfect, but we could not have made it without them.

Vision 16/17

Let’s start with the positives. I would like to think that we have done a great job in recruitment, especially during KEWOC. Not only did we have photographers planted in the groups (though not necessarily intentional), the official photographers made known their presence by interacting with freshies and ultimately also coming up with a convincing slideshow. Even before the CCA fair, the number of people interested in joining us has almost exceeded last year’s numbers and our member quota.

We have also implemented mentorship during the IBG period, where most members touched the camera for the first time. We carried on with the weekly lessons by the seniors, and fulfilled most of our coverage duties to the hall. We planned and executed photowalks to allow members exposure to more than just hall coverage. We sent our members to a professional course, allowing them to learn from a professional instructor.

We have also formed new partnerships. For the first time, we had a photowalk conducted by Olympus where members learnt about light stacking and painting. We partnered with OSA to provide event coverage while supplementing our CCA budget. We also linked up with OCR to allow some seniors help with press coverage.

There are also many other exciting initiatives. We implemented Photo of the Month, injecting a little friendly competition into our CCA. We are planning a partnership with MarkedShot, a platform for photography competitions, as well as a photo exhibition to the public for the first time ever. Despite the usual trend of getting a camera every 2 years, in this year alone, we managed to secure 3 cameras for Vision.

But we are not perfect. Not every member is hitting our desired levels of proficiency and passion. The attendance for some events is bad, and there have been complaints over the discrepancy in standard of the pictures uploaded. The delay in the processing of some administrative matters is also longer that it should have been.

This does not mean that it has to remain this way for good. We are aware of our shortcomings, and have, in good faith, entrusted the next set of Vision heads to take over with the hopes of improving the CCA even more than we have.

As Vision, we strive to serve both the Hall and our members. We have seen to the needs of the Hall, and often beyond. We have seen our members grown both personally and professionally. This is why we will continue to walk this path.

This is KE Vision.



I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to my Head Joshua, MD Ruoyang, the XXXco, and everyone else who has in one way or another helped us out.


My blog posts will be infrequent and irregular but eventually, I hope to document what I have learnt.

Physics 7/10

Here’s a short one since I am terribly busy recently:


A tutor once posed this question: all of our fundamental forces are conservative in nature, so where do non-conservative forces originate from? While I did get an update from the lecturer, I think I shall leave the question open for a little longer 🙂

People 101: Lesson 2

Tips learnt:

  1. Have an eye for things. Look out for shapes, colours, lines. Reflections, a different angle.. even after taking a shot try giving it an angle, try out landscape, portrait shots.
  2. Metering on a budget: a good way to get the correct light metering is to use the back of your hand to get the light incident on the object. Very often it means that you have to be in the same location as the subject but it usually works very well unless you have extremely pale or dark skin.
  3. Dont be afraid to approach people, strike up a conversation. Do plan your shots beforehand but always remember to thank them. You will also be doing a service to future photographers as the subject will be more likely to agree to other shots after a favourable experience being part of your photograph.
  4. Getting a wide angle (maybe 35mm) forces you to be close to the action, but also gives the impression of being in the picture. It lessens the gap between the viewer and the photograph by creating a difference in the sizes of near and far objects – something that telephoto lenses struggle to do.
  5. When trying to take panning shots of people, try a busy traffic light. Those who really want to cross the road cannot avoid you, but be sure to thank them.
  6. Setting up a trap: it is possible to camp behind a pillar along a walkway so that passers-by who see you have a stun face and will look at you, making it easy to take a shot of them. Be sure to thank them.

Tips for lesson 1 might be coming soon, the reason being that lesson 2 is a practical and I might forget stuff if I don’t note it down quickly. Lesson 1 has notes already so I can update when I am more free 🙂

Field trip to Micron

I recently had the privilege to visit the Micron Wafer Fab at Senoko. While short, the trip was informative especially in the direction that it is taking.

Micron is a semiconductor firm that produces silicon-based memory components like NAND flash for SSDs and eMMC and DRAMs for computer memory. Interestingly, it is the only semiconductor firm in Singapore to be rated in the top 100 graduate employers by GTI media. (

Singapore is the regional hub for Micron’s operations in Asia. Alone, Singapore contributes 8000 of its 30,000 global employees and is the only country with a mega-fab. This is interesting as we can get a glimpse of Singapore’s policy of encouraging growth in the high-tech industry in action – else there would be little reason why the US-based company will invest so heavily (~$20b USD) in such a tiny country.

Technology wise, Micron is near the forefront of the semiconductor industry. Its front end wafer fab deals with 300mm wafers – meaning increased efficiency over older 200mm technologies (do not confuse this with the 22/14nm race – those are for individual transistor sizes. Here, bigger is better and there are possible plans to move on to 450mm). I was lucky to see some of the fabrication in action: the standard photolithography and etching for transistors and a very interesting “MRT” for the wafer plates. Apparently it is in-house technology and I do find its efficiency impressive.

Going in and out of the clean room is a hassle for engineers so while there is a team situated at the clean room, other engineers can do basic monitoring in another room without having to change into the relevant gear. The company gives me the impression that everything is very streamlined and efficient – but that must be the case as if there are inefficiencies or failures at any point in the production, the losses quickly amount to catastrophic levels.

They do however face a similar problem with other companies such as Intel and Samsung – one can only shrink the transistors until quantum laws take over. While I did not ask if they are attempting >14nm (unfortunately I did not get to have much time with the engineers), they are (of course) aware of the problem and are doing conventional approaches to mitigate the problem such as going for MLC and TLC NAND, as well as vertical NAND (known as 3D-NAND to some). I did ask one of the officers there some burning questions and I shall summarise them below:


Q: Intel and Samsung are competitors, but now you need to be fighting the same enemy (Moore’s Law). Have you thought of collaborating?

A: Yes, they have collaborated with at least one of the above firms. There is not much benefit in going in a full out price war.

Q: Any interesting developments from Micron?

A: While they do research, they focus more on consumer oriented requests: e.g. if a certain firm wants memory for wearable tech, Micron does it for them.

Q: What is the direction for Micron?

A: Building great reputation and good consumer relationship. If big firms partner with Micron (e.g. Apple is a partner of Micron) then it can go well in the market.


This trip was rather short and I do wish to see more. It was a great experience and I look forward to visiting more companies.


Random 24/4

Neutrons and protons are lower energy counterparts of delta_0 and delta_+ particles, having spin 1/2 as opposed to spin 3/2. This made me wonder if there are spin 1/2 counterparts of delta_- and delta_++ particles (which should technically be lower in energy) and it turns out that there are, but their energies are higher due to a property called isospin which I am not familiar with. Hopefully someone will be able to enlighten me about this concept.


I have much more to learn but this is definitely very enjoyable. Happy learning too!