Physics Engagement Day 2019


Over 40 prospective students and their parents turned up for the Physics Engagement Day on 27 April. The third session to be held, Engagement Day is an initiative by the Faculty of Science to engage prospective students who have received admission offers to consider pursuing a science degree at NUS. The Department of Physics hopes that participants will be well informed of the curriculum, research opportunities and career openings available for a physics education.

Prof Sow Chorng Haur giving a live demo during his talk
Prof Valerio Scarani sharing about the physics education in NUS
Prof Sow Chorng briefing visitors at the Centre for Ion Beam Applications

The day started with the Head of Department, Prof Sow Chorng Haur, giving a welcome speech and brief introduction of the department to participants. The Department of Physics offers a programme of critical scientific thinking which provides learners experience in both theory and experiment. Graduates could look forward to a wide range of career options from engineering in electronics and bio-tech firms to data analytics in e-commerce companies.

Listening to what a particle accelerator can do
Prof Yan Jie briefing visitors at the Biological Physics Laboratory
Listening to research on DNA mechanics

Deputy Head (Education) Prof Valerio Scarani explained how physics has evolved over history: from motional forces to proton beam therapy, physics explores the fundamental questions and is central in all technological innovation given its capacity to harness and solve new, complex problems. He also gave participants an overall picture of the department curriculum structure including specialisations and minors available to undergraduates.

Prof Kai Dieckmann briefing visitors at the Centre for Quantum Technologies
Inside the lab for studying ultracold atoms
Interaction of visitors with faculty over lunch

Prof Kai Dieckmann interacting with prospective student and parents

The highlight of the day was a tour to three research facilities:

  • Visitors were brought to the Biological Physics Laboratory where Prof Yan Jie led his group in many aspects of the biophysical research field. He explained about DNA mechanics and also pointed out the cutting edge technologies available for research in his lab.
  • The visit to the Centre for Ion Beam Applications, the location of a 3.5-million volt particle accelerator, was another eye-opener. Visitors learnt from Prof Sow Chorng Haur about novel applications using proton beam from detecting fake gems to cancer therapy.
  • At the Centre for Quantum Technologies, Prof Kai Dieckmann explained about his group’s experimental research in the field of ultracold quantum gases. Visitors were enthralled by the sophisticated setup of a quantum lab that attempts to generate and direct laser beams to cool atoms.


Indeed it was a truly awe-inspiring day for prospective students and parents as they learned about the physics education in NUS and witnessed first-hand the different state-of-the-art research endeavours in the department.

I enjoy the tour of the facilities and laboratories. I think NUS has quite a set of impressive and cutting edge tools for students and professors. People are coming out with new discoveries and inventions and they are doing over it here. I like the quantum lab and the particle accelerator. I have not seen one in real life until now. I am impressed by that. When I start here, I guess I will be able to experience whatever there is.
The lab tours are informative and engaging. I like the fact that students can have a chance to be involved in research. I get to witness the inside of a research facility which is most interesting to me.
The talk is quite understandable and I really enjoy it. It’s more fun than I thought. I learn about the prospects of job opportunities and different areas we can go into after we graduate like finance which is what I never imagine could happen for a science student. I also never thought that Physics could be so versatile as to cover all sorts of knowledge. It definitely helps me to consider physics as a subject I would choose here.
My first impression of the Physics Department was the interaction with the professors. I felt that they were very thoughtful and passionate about the subjects they are teaching and researching. I think what’s great is there’s a mix of research and teaching. I really like the environment and facilities that are an eye-opener. It is good to see the professors reaching out and being willing to share their research and taking an extra step to try to reach out to students. I think without the interaction with the professors, it can be difficult for students themselves to become interested though of course they have to self-learn and there should be no feeding and they have to be independent thinkers.