Driving Innovation

By Zheng Juncen

The petite second-year student not only took part in improving earlier car designs, she also drove the electric car her team had built, the Nanyang Venture 9 (NV-IX), in a competitive race.

When Emily Fatima Yunan, 21, first caught sight of Nanyang Venture, Singapore’s first 3D printed electric-powered car at the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (MAE), she immediately realized it is a project she wanted to join.

When Emily Fatima Yunan, 21, first caught sight of Nanyang Venture, Singapore’s first 3D printed electric-powered car at the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (MAE), she immediately realized it is a project she wanted to join.

When Emily Fatima Yunan, 21, first caught sight of Nanyang Venture, Singapore’s first 3D printed electric-powered car at the School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering (MAE), she immediately realized it was a project she wanted to join.

She was just a first-year MAE student then, but Emily did not hesitate to approach Associate Professor Ng Heong Wah to ask if she can join his research team.

The journey was anything but easy.

Maximising her petite frame, Emily enters the trunk of the NV-IX to complete all the wirings for the circuit boards in the race car. PHOTO: ZHENG JUNCEN

Maximising her petite frame, Emily enters the trunk of the NV-IX to complete all the wirings for the circuit boards in the race car. PHOTO: ZHENG JUNCEN

It took her a year to master the sophisticated mechanisms of an electric-powered car by observing her seniors design and build innovative cars.

Due to the aerodynamic requirement of the NV-IX, the race car is small and compact. Emily often helps to fix small glitches and to tighten the nut.

Due to the aerodynamic requirement of the NV-IX, the race car is small and compact. Emily often helps to fix small glitches and to tighten the nut.

But in March, the petite second-year student not only took part in improving earlier car designs, she also drove the electric car her team had built, the Nanyang Venture 9 (NV-IX), in a competitive race.

Her team ranked eighth out of 16 teams at the Shell Eco-Marathon Asia, an annual race involving energy-efficient and innovative cars from tertiary institutions across Asia.

Emily helps Joandy Leonata Pratama, 20-year-old second year MAE student, solder the battery used for the race car.

Emily helps Joandy Leonata Pratama, 20-year-old second year MAE student, solder the battery used for the race car.

It was held at the Changi Exhibition Centre on 15-19 Mar.

Emily is only the second female driver to represent NTU since the University started joining the competition in 2016.

“I’ve never felt disadvantaged as a girl,” said Emily, who was one of only two females in the team of 16 NTU students. “Sometimes, I won’t be able to carry as heavy a load like (the males, but) other than that it’s okay.”

Emily drives the NV-IX on the race course at the Shell Eco-Marathon Asia on 18 Mar. Each race car had five trials and nine laps on the track, with the best timing taken for the final assessement.

Emily drives the NV-IX on the race course at the Shell Eco-Marathon Asia on 18 Mar. Each race car had five trials and nine laps on the track, with the best timing taken for the final assessement.

For instance, having a small frame — she weighs 41kg and is 147cm tall — enabled her to manoeuvre inside the car’s small compartment easily.

Most of the nitty-gritty work that goes into building the Nanyang Venture happens in an obscure workshop nestled within the North Spine.

That is where the team brainstorms ideas to enhance the innovativeness and performance of the car.

Test runs are then scheduled occasionally for Emily to practise behind the wheel.

NTU placed third in last year’s race. While the team did not manage to repeat the feat this year, Emily hopes that next year’s team will raise the bar.

“There will always be uncertainties during the competition,” she said. “But fret not, fight on, up is the only way forward.”

The MAE team behind the Nanyang Venture 9, led by Associate Professor Ng Heong Wah (extreme left).

The MAE team behind the Nanyang Venture 9, led by Associate Professor Ng Heong Wah (extreme left).