Monthly Archives: November 2015

Summer Internship at EPFL

My summer at EPFL was perhaps one of the best summers I have ever had! If you wonder why, here is a bit of my story:

At EPFL, I worked in the Laboratory of Renewable Energy Science and Engineering (LRESE) and I worked there from July to September 2015. My project was about maximizing the performance of water splitting device, using sunlight as the energy source to form H2 and O2 as the valuable products. This technology has a very bright future in the next few years, and I am proud to be part of its development.

During my internship, I learnt so many things, both in academics and socially. From the academic point of view, I learnt how to structure my approach in doing the project. I learnt how to manage my daily timetable and split the tasks wisely so that I could finish the project in a very limited amount of time — I learnt how to multitask. I had the chance to use some sophisticated laboratory equipment such as Scanning Electron Micrograph (SEM) and Metal Sputtering Machine – to use these machines I had to enter a chamber called cleanroom and wore an “astronaut-like” outfit! But more importantly, I learnt that in research, 75% of your time is spent trying to explain something that you did not expect to happen in the first place! Apparently, that’s what science is about.  This experience will surely help me succeed my 4th year project in Oxford which I am currently doing – the internship seems like a head-start!

For my social life, I have also gained a very unforgettable experience. I had the chance to meet and be friends with brilliant students coming from top universities around the world – MIT, Cambridge, Stanford, you name it! Building a network and friendship with these people is surely something that is priceless. We had several trips together, once was to CERN, Geneva. The largest scientific lab on earth, a place that is second to none!

In overall, I would undoubtedly recommend this programme to anyone who wants to have a great AND productive summer. Not only those who have passion in research, but also those who are considering it. You won’t waste your time being here. The FUN part is guaranteed!



Interns’ trip to CERN!


boat trip

Boat trip organised by the lab!


Me at Lauterbrunnen!

Samuel Putra, University of Oxford

Laboratory of Renewable Energy Science and Engineering (LRESE), EPFL

My Summer in Switzerland

Last year, my friend came back from an internship at EPFL in Switzerland.  She was ecstatic about her time there.  So, I decided to look into EPFL as well.  And in the end, even though our experiences were completely different, after having spent my summer in Switzerland, I only wish that I could have stayed there for longer. I met amazing people, and I worked in an awesome place, the Biorobotics Lab, led by Professor Auke Ijspeert.  What more could one wish for from a summer?

The Typical Weekday:

Every day I would wake up in my dorm room in the Marcolet dorm complex (part of FMEL Housing), which is in a little town called Crissier, a suburb of Lausanne.  After getting a delicious, freshly baked croissant au chocolat at the local convenience store, I would get on the metro and be at EPFL within 20 minutes.  Often I would walk to work, which would take a little over half an hour.

One of the main goals of the Biorobotics Lab is to design biologically-inspired robots in order to better understand the biomechanics of the animals that they are based off of.  As such, a principal direction of my research in the lab was to determine which scaling relationships should be conserved when maintaining dynamic similarity between robots and their respective animal of inspiration.  In short, I was working with this guy:

PleurobotIn the middle of the day, the whole lab would go together for lunch at one of the EPFL cafeterias (most of which make quite good food).  A coffee break with interesting discussions would always follow this.

After work was over, I would rarely go straight home.  On some days the interns would get together and hang out on Lake Geneva.  On other days (aka whenever there was wind) I would get my swimming gear and go windsurfing at the UNIL dock, either with my friends from the lab or my Singapore roommate Rodger (see his post below).

The Weekends

The workdays were great.  The weekend was just as exciting.  This would be the time when I traveled throughout Switzerland and Europe, such as going to the Rhine Falls to see the fireworks celebrating Swiss National Day, or exploring Montreux, the setting of the famous song, “Smoke on the Water.”  We also had numerous picnics with the team.  In keeping with the American spirit, the interns and I even threw a Fourth of July party on Lake Geneva for our labmates.


I will never forget my time in EPFL.  I met so many great people.  I participated in awesome research and experimental work.  I went to new and beautiful places.  I just hope one day I will come back.

Stanislav Tsitkov, MIT

Biorobotics Laboratory, EPFL