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Engineering the Perfect Cup of Bubble Tea

 

Muhammad Shadiqin and Nur Sarah share their IWSP experience working on the world’s first automated freshly brewed bubble tea machine.

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Shadiqin (left) and Sarah worked on the Emerging Digital Ecosystem Networks (E.D.E.N.) vending machine during their IWSP at JAVIS. (Photo: JAVIS)

As part of their Bachelor of Engineering in Systems Engineering (ElectroMechanical Systems), now named Mechatronics Systems programme, Year 4 students Muhammad Shadiqin Bin Sarnin and Nur Sarah Binte Mohd Ashraff Paglar had the chance to use their skills to develop the world’s first fully automated freshly brewed bubble tea vending machine.

This was part of their Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP), during which they were attached to tech start-up company JAVIS Holdings to work on the E.D.E.N. (Emerging Digital Ecosystem Networks) vending machine.

Sarah explained the project’s concept: “Essentially, the project is a streamlined version of a physical bubble tea shop. It aims to produce the same amount of bubble tea but at a much faster rate and a higher quality.”

As part of their eight-month IWSP, Sarah and Shadiqin were hired as Electronics & Firmware Engineers, tasked with implementing the different systems required to make the vending machine function.

Sarah was closely involved with customising layouts for the machine’s electronic printed circuit boards and developing the necessary firmware to ensure optimal communication between the machine’s hardware and software components. Shadiqin was tasked with developing the machine’s Integrated Tea Brewing and Dispensing System (ITBDS), which included programming algorithms to control the amount of tea leaves and hot water for brewing consistency.

Primed for the Working World

While these tasks may sound complex, Sarah and Shadiqin were able to quickly navigate these new systems thanks to the solid technical training they had received at SIT.

“Having a strong grasp of the basics of mechanical and electronics systems, we were able to apply our knowledge in a new environment. So even though we didn’t have prior experience working on such a machine, and the (microcontroller) boards we were working on were different, we could ask the right questions and research solutions to achieve our objectives,” shared Shadiqin.

Beyond the technical aspects of the job, Sarah also appreciated how her experience working in collaborative groups at SIT had prepared her for the softer aspects of her internship.

“This work attachment was very different from my previous internships. It was very much like being in a real job, as we were involved in everything the full-timers went through, from liaising with external vendors to participating in showcase events. Nevertheless, we were able to adapt quickly because we already had experience working in multi-disciplinary teams in school,” said Sarah.

JAVIS birthday celebration

Shadiqin and Sarah celebrating a colleague‘s birthday in the office. (Photo: JAVIS)

This is the Real Deal

While the transition to working at JAVIS went relatively smoothly, there was still much that both needed to learn on the job. Shadiqin shared that one new challenge he faced was the speed at which they were expected to work.

“Unlike school, we had to pick up the pace. Also, when there were things we didn’t know, we couldn’t just refer to our slides for the answers. We had to research for answers on our own.”

Sarah agreed, “One of the key takeaways of IWSP was that we are now in the real world. I felt the pressure of completing my deadlines, forcing me to plan and manage my time better and be more responsible.”

Even as Sarah and Shadiqin adjusted to life in the working world, they were thankful for the various support systems in place. These included preparatory workshops at SIT to give them an idea of what to expect during the internship, as well as supportive supervisors at JAVIS who gave them the time and space to familiarise themselves with new systems.

“SIT also assigned an academic supervisor whom we could contact if we had any problems. Fortunately, we didn’t have any issues, but it was just good to know that there was someone there,” said Shadiqin.

Proud Contributors

Looking back at their IWSP experience, both Sarah and Shadiqin felt immensely proud to have played a part in the development of E.D.E.N.

Sarah said, “Before I arrived at JAVIS, the entire Dispensing and Purging Systems (DPS) system I was working on was probably only around 15% completed. I was then given the opportunity to experiment and research with the various hardware and software applications. By the end of my internship, I managed to complete the firmware and contribute to the development of DPS.”

Shadiqin added, “It was the same for me. ITBDS was less than 50% completed when I came in, and when I left, we were about 80% done. It was fulfilling to have played a part in advancing the progress of something real.”

Beyond this sense of fulfilment, IWSP also helped them gain a broader perspective on what the future holds.

Shadiqin appreciates how his IWSP with JAVIS has allowed him to see beyond what he has experienced in school. “My takeaway is not to limit myself. I have been exposed to many new ways to apply my knowledge and recognise that there is much more to grow and develop myself in, even after I graduate.”

For Sarah, this experience has allowed her to build up her self-confidence and believe that she can genuinely contribute to the engineering field.

“In engineering, there are very few females, and previously, I struggled because there weren’t many women I could talk to about my self-doubts. Through IWSP, however, I’ve learnt to be more confident and less harsh with myself. I am now much more open and believe I can do what everyone else can, no matter my gender.”

“At JAVIS, we do not treat our interns as interns. We create an ecosystem where interns from different academic levels come together to solve real-world issues just like any of our permanent staff. In an extremely fast-paced environment, they are expected to be competent, independent and professional,” shared Mr John Cheong, Chief Operations Officer, JAVIS.

“Together, we were able to break new ground and overcome many challenges. In fact, Sarah and Shadiqin were part of the team that was instrumental in helping JAVIS emerge as one of the winners of Stellar Lifestyle’s Innovation Programme. SIT has groomed its students very well. This positive experience solidified our ongoing IWSP partnership with SIT as we welcomed a new batch of interns from SIT’s Robotic Systems programme this year.”

 
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