Kara Poon - AsiaBound Exchange to Taiwan

Kara Poon - AsiaBound Exchange to Taiwan

During the summer vacation from December 2013 to February 2014, I travelled to Taiwan with six other students from the School of Materials Science and Engineering UNSW on the AsiaBound Mobility Program for a research and cultural exchange.


The UNSW Exchange Group

During our stay, we lived and worked at Tunghai University, Taichung. Taichung is located on the west coast of Taiwan and is known for its industries. At Tunghai University, we were allocated to different schools within the Department of Engineering and assigned a supervisor and a research project. I worked within the Industrial Engineering department and I was given the project of determining the thermal effects on fused deposition modelling, which is a type of 3D printing. Through my research, I determined the variables that affect the quality of products printed using the Makerbot Replicator 2X Experimental 3D printer. I also determined the optimum adjustments that were required to produce the best quality product.

     
3D Printing in Progress

In conjunction with our research work at Tunghai University, we also travelled to local Taiwanese universities to give presentations on Australian history and culture, UNSW and university life in Australia. At these universities, we were introduced to the staff and students of the Materials Science and Engineering Schools and were shown the facilities and laboratories. We were fortunate enough to have visited 5 universities that were located in various regions in Taiwan. This provided us with the amazing opportunity to not only meet more Taiwanese students, but also to explore Taiwan whilst travelling.

Tunghai University also organised for us to visit three different types of manufacturing facilities. These included a machinery manufacturer, a semiconductor facility and a company that specialises in the production of aircraft parts and systems.

We also learned some basic Chinese through student-led tutorials and through socialising with the local students. After 3 months there, we were all able to speak some Chinese and where our Chinese lacked, our skills in charades excelled.

But our trip was not just work! We had plenty of time to travel and explore Taiwan and its many beautiful and different landscapes and to learn about the wonderfully friendly and welcoming people. We travelled to almost every county in Taiwan and were pleasantly surprised by just how different each location was.

During our first weekend in Taiwan, we travelled south to Kaohsiung where we explored the beach town on bicycles. Travelling on bicycles was one of the easiest ways to get around, when public transport was inconvenient and it also gave us plenty of exercise! We were able to have our first experience of just how seriously the Taiwanese take their night markets as the market we visited in Kaohsiung was one of the largest and most crowded in Taiwan.

We also travelled to the eastern side of Taiwan to Taroko Gorge, Hualien. Taroko Gorge is known for its natural beauty as it has stunning blue waters winding between canyons of limestone rocks.

One of the more memorable moments of the trip was our spur of the moment decision to travel to Taipei to watch the New Year’s fireworks off Taipei 101. We left our university campus extremely early in the morning and got to Taipei at 3p.m., only to realise the locals don’t usually turn up for the fireworks till 10p.m. Despite the fireworks show only lasting around 3 minutes, getting no sleep and returning on the next 4a.m. train back to uni, it was a fun trip which all our Taiwanese friends thought us crazy for doing.

Overall, our trip was enjoyable as we learnt a lot about Taiwanese culture, the people and its changing landscapes. We were introduced to many universities, which helped us to understand how the Taiwanese universities and their campuses varied. Furthermore, we experienced working in a foreign setting and were able to experience Taiwanese student life. We were also able to continually improve our Chinese language skills and we were hugely fortunate to make many new and close friends.

                                   
                                       Taipai 101:   New Years                                            UNSW Students and their lab mates at Tunghai University