Institute of High Performance Computing


Cultivating Future Scientists!

Young Scientists


IHPC-Science Mentorship Programme (SMP) 2007

The SMP is a collaborative outreach activity orgranised by the Gifted Education Branch of the Ministry of Education. Targeted at students in the Integrated Programme, the various schools will send teams of 3 students to be attached to a selected institution, where one (or two) mentors will guide them through a project from planning to completion.

The selection stage is also an intricate process that requires the students to write in and convince the mentors that they have what it takes to see the project through to fruition. The mentors will then select the group with the most potential, if there is more than one group of students vying for the project.

For IHPC-SMP 2007, 3 students from Nanyang Girls’ School – Fong Jiayi, Go Shiyu and Wu Jing Jing - were attached at the institute for a period of six months. Below is an account of their computational research experiences as well as their interactions with their mentors, Dr Chee Chin Yi (LCS) and Mr Chong Chiet Sing (AC):


Our project focused on the creation of a finite element human spine model with the use of the MRI scans of a body and the program, MIMICS as a tool to help us segment out the human spinal bones, giving us a 3D model of the human spine to perform analysis on.  

In the project, we used the software called Finite Element Modelling (FEM) which helped us to study the human spinal impact tolerances and how the spine reacts under a certain amount of stress.

The MIMICS program links numerous scanned images to the Finite Element Analysis (FEA) which extracts the geometry from these images and creates a 3 dimensional model. FEA uses a complex system of points called nodes. These nodes will then make a grid called a mesh.

The mesh produced is programmed to have material and structural properties, which will demarcate how the structure or model will react to certain stress or loading conditions. The nodes of the structure are assigned at a certain density throughout the material depending on the stress levels of a particular area.

Vibrational analysis was also done on our spinal model and the tests done included random vibrations, shock and impact. Lastly, we let the super computers run a series of computational procedures involving applied forces and determining the material properties of the spinal bone, which includes the values of the bone’s density, Young modulus and Poisson’s Ratio. Such a structural analysis allows the determination of the effects such as strains, stresses and deformations that are caused by applying structural loads such as force, pressure and gravity.

We were exposed to an in-depth study of the human spinal impact tolerances and managed to learn a great deal about the various computing programmes and systems which we would not have had the chance to learn about if not for this Science Mentorship Programme. This experience has been a most enriching one for us, not forgetting about the invaluable lessons which taught us the importance of working well in a team.

Our Mentors     

Our mentors, Dr Chee Chin Yi and Mr. Chong Chiet Sing, played important roles through helping and guiding us, providing clear instructions throughout our time of internship with IHPC. Under their guidance, we were able to carry out the project smoothly and even manage to have much fun at the same time Their care and patience to us have been much appreciated and we would not have come this far without their support.

In the first part of the project, where we had to create the 3D spinal model, Mr Chong always took time to check on our progress. He would try his best to help us in every way possible such as providing us with websites where we could acquire more research materials and knowledge to aid us in our project.

Dr Chee was both a friend and mentor. He often joked with us, making the whole project much more enjoyable. We were deeply touched by his relentless support for us at all times and we could see that he truly believed that we had the potential to do well.

Like the old saying goes, nothing is easy. Through the course of doing this Science Mentorship Programme, we encountered many ups and downs, with many difficulties along the way. The most pressing concern was time constraints. As we all had our own busy schedules, it was a mean feat to be able to meet up together as a complete team for all the sessions to work on the project. Due to the clash of enrichment lessons and CCA sessions, we had to learn to split up the workload among the group members. At most times, only 2 of us instead of the whole group would be present at IHPC to do the project. Thus, sometimes this may have led to a lack of communication among the group members.

Another problem which we encountered was our inability to grasp the concepts and principles of the subject at a comfortable pace. Most of what we learnt from working on the project were brand new theories introduced to us, such as FEA and MIMICS. We had never come across these concepts before and thus it was rather hard for us at first to be able to understand the working theories behind these programs. However, through the continual process of trial-and-error, coupled with Dr Chee’s patient explanations, we were finally able to grasp the concepts and make good use of them for our project. 


This page is last updated at: 05-AUG-2014