S'pore Poly students' ideas set for takeoff with Boeing

The next Boeing aircraft you board may be fitted with safety and convenience features designed by local polytechnic students.

US planemaker Boeing has patented three inventions from six Singapore Polytechnic (SP) students, in the first collaboration of its kind between the aerospace firm and an education institute here.

The inventions were the fruits of a five-week programme in 2013, where SP students worked with Boeing researchers to identify challenges faced by cabin crew, and come up with solutions to increase safety and productivity.

One was a redesign of a plane's larder compartments for easier retrieval of items; another was a cover for galley sinks to create more workspace. The third is a locking system with visual indicators that allow cabin crew to tell at a glance which storage compartments are open or closed.

Boeing obtained the patents in June last year. These patents may be implemented in Boeing's aircraft if their clients ask for such features.

One participant, Mr Dexter Tan, 21, said the programme gave him a glimpse of the aviation engineering industry. "It gave us a chance to broaden our perspective by working and talking to Boeing's management and staff," said Mr Tan, who graduated with a diploma in mechanical engineering in 2014.

SP's principal and chief executive Tan Choon Shian said: "Through such authentic, multi-disciplinary projects, students will hone their technical and soft skills, and be ready to develop and deliver real-world solutions in their respective fields after they graduate."

The students, who are listed as co-inventors of these patents, were presented with plaques marking the collaboration yesterday at the opening of the polytechnic's new AeroHub, which will house the school's aerospace training facility.

Previously, students from the diploma courses in aeronautical engineering and aerospace electronics attended lessons in different parts of the school. These two courses train about 1,200 students annually.

The AeroHub integrates SP's aeronautical and aerospace electronics engineering laboratories and facilities under one roof.

The four-storey building at the Dover Road campus has facilities such as a flight simulator room and an engine maintenance room for hands-on training. It also houses four life-size aircraft, including two newly acquired ones - a King Air B90 turboprop and a Hawker 700 turbofan plane.

Yesterday, Ms Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Industry and Education, said the opening of the AeroHub was timely, given the growth of air travel in the Asia-Pacific.

"In line with the national SkillsFuture movement, the AeroHub's facilities and fleet of aircraft will give students in SP an authentic learning environment to develop and master skills," she said.


This article was first published on Jan 6, 2016.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.