Star draws at local Poly open house

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Since Thursday, all five polytechnics have been holding their open house, which ends today. KRYSTAL CHIA and SITI OMAR drop in on three to check out the highlights


At Nanyang Polytechnic, the light side of the Force was ever present.

More than 4,000 Lego bricks were used to create a Star Wars-themed Lego maze by the School of Information Technology.

A team of eight students, mostly in their second year, spent two weeks of the term break designing and building the 114cm-by-152cm maze.

Using a commercially available bluetooth software on the iPad, players navigate a Star Wars character, the BB-8 droid, out of the maze.

The droid was bought from the Apple online store for $239.

Team member Wu Jia Jie, 18, said: "We thought that the popularity of Star Wars and Lego would attract secondary school students to our exhibit."

And it worked as he said - most visitors were drawn to the exhibit, asking questions about it and the course.

One of them was Raiyan Yasin, a Secondary 4 student at Greenview Secondary School.

He said: "I was impressed by how the Star Wars font and spaceships looked so much like the real thing in the movies.

"The maze definitely made me want to know more about the course."

Over at another corner in the poly, students and staff from the School of Interactive and Digital Media (SIDM) were fighting a "war" of their own.

Donning suits with camera-sensitive markers and wearing Star Wars helmets, two student actors used lightsabers to perform fight sequences, which were projected onto a screen.

Visitors can interact with the on-screen characters from outside the multi-cam video production studio, and even duel with them.

Four third-year students studying Motion Capture Techniques this semester configured the motion capture software and set up the equipment.

Mr Lucas Tan, 20, an SIDM student pursuing a Diploma in Digital Media Design Animation, said: "We were inspired by the hype surrounding the latest Star Wars movie.

"While it took three weeks for us to complete the exhibit, it feels really good to see something that you work on come to life."

Their course lecturer, Mr Chad Woelki, said this project worked particularly well for an Open House.

He said: "The project is active, visual and interactive.

"The secondary school students are often shocked when they find out this is a live system involving real people."

He added that the project showed visitors how motion capture, by having real actors, speeds up the process of animation and makes it more realistic.

Foo Teck Hui, a former Ang Mo Kio Secondary student, will be receiving her O-level results on Monday and intends to pursue animation in a polytechnic.

She said: "This is my first time seeing a motion capture project, and I am impressed that animation students at NYP get to learn such techniques."


Bread on the tracks


A train model at the Diploma in Restaurant and Culinary Operations' booth at Republic Polytechnic's open house did not just look good, it smelled good too.

More than 15kg of bread flour was used to create the model measuring 1.3m by 25cm by 15cm.

Salted dough was used to preserve the bread over the course of the Open House.

NO RECEPTION: Aluminium foil was used to create a room that blocks mobile signals.

Created by the course's full-time chef instructor Jaslyn Leong and second-year student Tan Yan Chan, 22, the bread train took a month to design and make.

They were inspired by the Open House theme for the School of Hospitality (SOH). Ms Leong, who has 18 years of culinary experience, said they wanted their exhibit to be linked to SOH's theme of Your Passport to the World.

She said: "With the train as an increasingly convenient mode of cross-country travel today, we thought it was a fitting idea that symbolised travel and adventure."

Bread-making is also part of the course curriculum.

Ms Tan, who volunteered for the project, had wanted to learn the techniques of bread design but gained an even bigger takeaway.

She said: "I feel that I've become a more patient person after this project, which requires a step-by-step process of making, baking and shaping the dough."

At the Diploma in IT Service Management booth, curious visitors streamed in and out of a "cage" made of aluminium foil that cuts off mobile signals.

The exhibit was inspired by the Faraday Cage, a 19th-century invention which is an enclosure made of conductive metal screens that block electric fields.

The team of 10 staff and students from the School of Infocomm wanted to let visitors experience what it would be like without mobile reception to better appreciate mobile networks.

From robots to runway fashion


Mr Thaddius Ho, 18, a second-year student from the Diploma in Game Design & Development course, was supposed to just man the IT Hacklab booth at Temasek Polytechnic's open house last Thursday.

But he got bored and built a robot from Lego pieces.

It was so good it became one of the exhibits.

YOUNG CREATORS: Mr Edmund Yeo with his robocar (above), sign-language robot TPinokio and its creators, and Miss Cherie Chan with the outfit she designed. YOUNG CREATORS: Mr Edmund Yeo with his robocar, sign-language robot TPinokio and its creators, and Miss Cherie Chan with the outfit she designed (above).

Mr Ho said: "I was feeling bored so I thought, why not just create a simple robot on the spot?"

His robot, which can move along a programmed route,is made from a Lego Mindstorms set, which he modified.

The robot, which took about 15 minutes to create, was a hit and attracted visitors to their booth.

Another student, Mr Edmund Yeo, 20, took two days to make the robocars that were also on display.

"I made them during a workshop and I never expected them to be showcased for open house," said the a second-year student from the Diploma of Information Technology.

"It's great that visitors can learn and see how our creations work."

Those who know sign language will also be pleased to see TPinokio, a robot created by three final-year students from the Diploma in Mechatronics.

The robot, which can do simple sign language, such as saying "hi", was inspired by the Ironman movie.

Mr Wilbert Soetanto, 20, a third-year student from the Diploma in Mechatronics, said: "We thought it would be cool to create a big, magnificent robot that looks like Ironman.

"But we also wanted the deaf and mute to be pleasantly surprised when they see our robot."

There was also a fashion show to showcase the clothes designed by students from the Diploma in Apparel Merchandising and Design (AMD).

Said Miss Cherie Chan, 20, a third-year student from AMD: "It was a surprise when I found out the outfit I made (with another student) was chosen to be showcased.

"It's wonderful as it instils a sense of pride in us for ourselves and our school."

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