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On 24 May 2017, a mixed group of 20 Secondary One and Two students and 4 teachers from Presbyterian High Secondary School (PHS) had the opportunity to visit their industry partner, Matcor Technology & Services Pte Ltd and its facilities. The visit was specially arranged to give students and teachers a glimpse of how real-life industrial failure cases are handled and identified using forensic engineering at Matcor.

The group was welcomed by Ms Sim Kheng Wah, Director of the Matcor Group. Ms Sim gave an overview of the Matcor company, and the variety of industries and companies that Matcor services. Ms Sim continued by sharing a couple of past failure cases handled by Matcor and the findings. This was followed by a sharing session by 3 engineers on their industrial forensics experience, some of which involved big brands such as Nestlé, Sembcorp Industries and Singapore Airlines. The students listened attentively as though they were reading a detective fiction. Some of them even asked about the undergraduate course that they should study and how to apply to join Matcor in the future.

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Students witnessing the outdoor work site for storing or analysis of bulky components associated to industrial failures.

After the presentation, the students were broken up into 2 groups where they were guided by the engineers to explore the different work sites. The tour covered 3 sites: evidence storage area: an indoor room for smaller failure components and an outdoor space for bulkier parts and components; sample treatment room; microscopic inspection room. This was also the first time that students came into contact with high technological instruments like scanning electron microscope (SEM). The specialist technician demonstrated how to use the SEM to examine the microstructure of a sample.

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Students on an in-depth analysis of a sample as captured by the digital camera mounted on the optical microscope.

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Students looking at the SEM images of a sample displayed on the computer as the specialist technician described its microstructure.

The students were brought back to the meeting room for a short Q&A session to wrap up the facility tour. Many expressed their fascination at the various investigation processes and engineering analysis techniques used, and also more importantly, how forensic engineering helps to reveal the areas of improvement in processes and/or product design to prevent similar failures from reoccurring. The Matcor learning journey has certainly “shed some light” on this lesser known yet critical discipline of forensics engineering to the PHS students.

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Wide smiles on the PHS students after the facility tour @ Matcor.

Written by:
Goh Jian Wei, Desmond