Category Archives: Engineering

Frank Morton

Everything was in fast motion, my camera could not keep up with all the action. My basketball team was thrashed, but I had thoroughly enjoyed it. The past day had been one of the longest, most intense and tiring 24 hours of my life. I lost my key, walked down the hill, departed for Nottingham at 0500, half a day of games, pub crawl, friend of a friend’s place, and left Nottingham for Bath at 0200 the next day. Sweet.

Frank Morton is an annual sports event where Chemical Engineering departments of universities all over UK gather for a friendly match. This year, University of Nottingham played host. The running of the games events were rather disorganised with many teams sitting around for hours doing nothing while waiting for their turn to play. Some wanted to cheer on their mates on a different event, but did not because they were unsure of when their own teams would play on next.

Anyway, it was quite a spectacular show with Manchester turning up with purple capes, Birmingham with their bright yellow shirts, and Newcastle team painted black and white and over a dozen dressed in costumes depicting cows.

After the games ended, we had a few hours of exploring the town before the closing ceremony at Gatecrashers. Birmingham emerged the overall champion. Bath won best t-shirt design and rugby and I can’t remember what else. The floor was so packed it was almost impossible to move. Reminded me of the motto on Edinburgh’s t-shirts, “We do in on packed bed with strippers.” (Note: this is something only somebody who has studied chemical engineering or similar studies would understand).

A pub crawl followed the closing ceremony. After having nearly all my energy depleted during the day, I found myself with a headache with all the loud music and smells of beer in the air. So I left halfway through and made way to a friend of a friend’s place.

My friend’s friends were so kind to serve supper. I even managed to get a couple of hours of sleep before making way back to town to catch the uni’s chartered bus back to Bath. Thanks peeps! Love you guys! I dozed into oblivion throughout the whole journey back to Bath.

I’m now at my friend’s place near town centre, waiting for the next bus home. Pre-breakfast was four bars of Kit-kat. Smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich, and a steaming hot mug of coffee awaits back home. I still need to find my key or make a replacement. And I need to get started on that First Year Design Project.

Chemical Engineering rocks!


The Case of the Broken Can Opener

Just at the point of wailing over brain’s incompetence to perform integrals and differentiation and lacklustre report writing, I broke my can opener over a can of tuna. The five minutes staring at the scattered little pieces of screws and nuts was filled with evil thoughts that I would turn out an epic fail engineer.

I abandoned the dysfunctional thing on the corner of the chopping board while I mutilated a couple of Bird’s Eyes chillies and tore a handful of leaves off the lettuce head in vengeance. I managed to open the can about three-quarter way through before the above mentioned tool gave up on me, so all it took was a little push and the can prised open, revealing a modest portion of wholesome protein goodness.

Halfway through mixing my tuna salad, I stopped and went back to look at the half-broken tool. I glanced at another can opener lying around (not mine) and somehow got the epiphany to fix it together again.

Hallelujah! The fixing worked!

Maybe my being an engineer wouldn’t turn out so bad after all.


The title is a portmanteau I made up from the terms Otak which means brain in Malay, Cuckoo – a type of bird, also a term used for going crazy, and Otaku, a Japanese term for die-hard anime lovers.

My affinity for reading manga and watching anime increases exponentially the moment I start working (very hard) towards exams. The last time this was observed was during my A-levels, when I essentially read chapters after chapters of manga and episodes after episodes of anime at a ratio of two hours of study for every half hour of anime time.

There’s notes posted on my wall, piles of scribbled paper on my desk, socks everywhere, my older Fujitsu propped up on top of a folded cardboard box on top of my pail and my foot up on my printer. Pop musics and OSTs (original soundtracks) in languages apart from English is constantly being played while I wreck my head in divine inspiration of practising on problem solving sheets.

I have been keeping it steady at a limit of two mugs of coffee per day and reducing sugary food intake. The head is throbbing from long hours in front of the computer screen, and the rainy weather isn’t very encouraging for taking a breather outside.

Exams start on the 18th January and I’m hoping to be able to complete my revision by then. Wish me luck!


The past couple of days have been very Biology intensive revision session, and bits of it finally made its way inside my head. Somehow, I miss my AS Biology lessons back in Mantin, with all my classmates in it. Hitchman and his evolution theory. The weekly “humiliation” sessions where all our “notes” were checked. Here’s a confession. I can’t get over Bio. Scroll down for pictures from my dear Biology teacher’s farewell party.

(Amended from David Guetta & Chris Willis ft. Fergie and LMFAO – Getting Over You)

If all the things I learn right now,

If I remember like back then,

There’s no getting over, no getting over,

No getting over bio.

Wish I could spin my world into reverse,

And have Hitchman back again,

No getting over, no getting over,

No getting over you!

It’s back!

Hey hey I can’t forget you Bio

I think about cells everyday

I tried to masquerade the pain

That’s why I’m sitting on the desk

St-st-st study to the night

There is no, there is no getting over you

To study to the mid-midnight

The osmosis between notes and I, retreat to the morning light.

We like to study like class,

Debate Darwin in the class,

But there is no, there is no getting over you

I’m a study, and study, and study and sta and sta

and study, and study, and study and sta and sta

People in the place,

If you’ve done Bio,

Then you know what I’m talking about

There is no getting over


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Gearing Towards Exams

I am now gradually building up steam for my first Chemical Engineering papers due to begin January 18th. First paper would be Maths, then Biology and Physical Chemistry. The number of papers may not be much, but I am determined to excel in all the papers.

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So far, things have been looking good. Cloudy with a hint of sunshine 🙂 Michealis Menten no longer freaks me out and Van der Waals equations of state finally made sense to me. However I still have Taylor polynomials to conquer and Funda-Mental Theorem of Calculus to tame.

And I suddenly remembered my essay due Monday is still in draft form and another coursework due the same day needs a little ironing out (I suspect it looks rat eaten right now :S ).


When two engineers are faced with the problem of clearing an inch of frost in the freezer, they think of mass expansion and heat transfer. Story of my life.

The fridge was filthy, filthy, FILTHY. The was water at the base near the crisper (the section where your mummy would normally put the vegetables in), there were ketchup stains everywhere and there was even some icky green stuff between the rubber strips on the door gasket. That afternoon, as I got to town to stock up on food and enjoy a bar of vanilla fudge chocolate, I also bought a pair of rubber gloves, scouring pad, and diswashing liquid.

I turned off the switch, transferred all the food into the other fridge (there are two fridges in the house), took out the clear glass shelves and started attacking the walls of the fridge with a sponge and dishwashing liquid (no heavy duty chemicals required. Just a good sponge with a gentle scouring pad will suffice).

My housemate came out of the room to see what the fuss was all about, and proceeded to clean the removed shelves (which I placed on the table) without being asked. Excellent!

Then, came the freezer.

Apparently, somebody had turned down the temperature, causing frost buildup. There was a least one inch of ice covering the cooling coils (or whatever you call it). I started with scraping the top layer of ice off furiously with a spoon (never do this if the ice layer is thin. You don’t want to risk damaging the coils). It was fun, seeing all the ice scrapings fall. Reminds me of the cendol back home, except without the cendol jelly and the toppings.

After about twenty minutes or so with nearly one pound of ice shavings dumped into the sink, housemate and I decided that that method was going to take forever. He suggested using a hair dryer. I wondered if the heat is going to cause some parts to crack due to sudden expansion. He explained that since the refrigerating system is under pressure anyway, that’s not going to happen. Mmm…okay. So off I went to fetch my hair dryer. Plugged it in and blasted the hot air away.

Personally, I would prefer to scrape all night. That’s because ice shavings are easier to remove than constantly wiping off and catching water droplets as the melting begins to threaten a puddle in your kitchen. Anyway, we placed towels and plastic containers to catch the dripping water at the bottom of the freezer.

The ice began to melt when he got the idea to put a bowl of hot water into the freezer compartment and let it sit there for half an hour or so with the doors closed. It took a while, but eventually the residual icicles in there became less than a centimeter thick. Huraah! Hurraah! The process was repeated twice. Finally, the door was left open to let the remaining ice melt on its own. Tracings of ice are still present at moment of press.

Housemate : “It takes a lot of energy to melt the ice.”

Me : *Chuckles* Thinking of : Specific latent heat of substance.