Puah Yi En is currently studying Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College London. Yi En completed her A-Levels at Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar and is graduating in 2023. This personal statement was part of her successful application to Imperial College London, University of Bristol, University of Manchester, University of Bath and University of Southampton for Aeronautical Engineering.
The invention of aircraft is an example of a miraculous engineering success as a result of detailed observations on animal flight and putting innovation in motion. I am intrigued by the seamless communication, working precision and maintenance in an airport. I often wonder how aerospace engineers work and how they coordinate their intelligence in their work. Engineers create a better and more connected world for us to live in through innovating and building aircraft. They expand the horizons of humanity through space exploration, making the impossible possible.
In order to gain a deeper insight into the course, I watched the video diary of an astronaut, Tim Peake and joined an online course by MIT that briefly introduced aerospace engineering. Rocket designers need to take into account the effect of microgravity and pressure difference on the spacecraft. For instance, the astronauts who are currently on expedition aboard the International Space Station experienced a drop in cabin pressure due to air leakage on the spacecraft. Other than deciding what material to be used, communication systems in the spaceship and the station should be given significance to ensure the safety of astronauts and to keep them updated. NASA is currently redesigning a new space suit with integrated audio system, more mobility and flexibility. This marks a new era, not only for astronauts but the whole STEM field.
Falcon Heavy, a reusable heavy-lift launch vehicle designed and manufactured by SpaceX introduces Reusable Launch System Development Program, the idea of returning boosters which can be reused and serve as a refueling tool for the spaceship after rocket separation. This idea saves cost and reduces space junk as rockets can now be refueled. However, I think this can be further improved by installing magnetic launch pad, rise the rocket a few kilometers in the air before burning the fuel in a safe distance. This can reduce the fuel cost and is also more eco-friendly. Mercury-Atlas 2 which took John Glenn into orbit is made by thin aluminium skin. It needs to be pressurised all the time to prevent the rocket from collapsing. This is one of the ways to reduce the total mass and thus increase the thrust of the rocket.
One of my most memorable participations is competing in the District Robotics Challenge. My team and I had to build and programme a lego model robot and navigate it through a maze within a time limit. I was able to enhance my hands-on skills which will be very useful when applied in engineering. I hope to be able to apply similar knowledge to aerospace innovation, with an aim to better grasp the concepts and applications of Physics and Mathematics that are closely related to aerospace.
I also participated in the Oxbridge Engineering Workshop, experiencing how a team of engineers work. The assignment was to complete a bridge building project as a team. We analysed ways to increase stability of the bridge from the unsuccessful first model. It reminds me that reflections and improving mistakes are important. This principle is essential in life to embrace failure as a learning process. I also learnt to be more vocal in discussing my opinions and I realise that ideas sharing is extremely crucial in a team.
My experience as an active rock climber moulded me to be tough and independent. Despite suffering from bruises, wounds and muscle pain after practices, I am still determined to reach my goal – the top of the wall. My experiences as an active member such as Master of Ceremonies, secretary of Interact Club have shaped me into a critical and logical person when it comes to problem solving. I learnt to take charge of projects I do, manage my time in making sure I balance my studies and extracurricular activities. I enjoy playing the piano and violin as it helps me to express my emotions and keep calm. I appreciate the steep learning curve offered by aerospace engineering as it allows me to thrive with enthusiasm and conquer challenges.
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