He cooks up ways to make engineering fun

He cooks up ways to make engineering fun
Prof Chong holding a piece of his work – a silicon wafer with phase change memory chips, which boost storage capacity in computers.

SINGAPORE - An accomplished researcher, Professor Chong Tow Chong holds 23 patents, and has published more than 700 peer-reviewed papers in international journals. The electrical engineer by training is now working on his latest experiment: how to boil an egg in a microwave oven.

The technique, he lets on, is to wrap the egg in aluminium foil and submerge it in water. The foil prevents the egg from cracking, while the heated water cooks it. "When I cook, I don't just look at recipes, I try to look at it from a scientific view," the 59-year-old, who counts cooking as one of his hobbies, told The Straits Times last Friday.

His passion for science and engineering, and a healthy sense of curiosity, has kept him in the business of promoting engineering education for more than three decades.

Last week, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) provost was awarded the Joint Medal of Excellence by the Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, for helping to shape Singapore's science and engineering landscape. This is the sixth time the prestigious award has been given out in IES' 47 years of award history.

Past winners include Nanyang Technological University president emeritus Su Guaning.

The accolade comes at a time when the sector faces a key challenge: how to restore the lustre of engineering.

Many young people find engineering "boring" and "unglamorous", admitted Prof Chong.

Students are more keen on business and accountancy because of better career prospects and the perception that physics is tough to score in, said the academic who spent a large part of his career at the National University of Singapore's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

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