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Chemical Engineering student finishes research program in Taiwan

5th year Chemical Engineering student Top Archie P. Dela Peña was one of the fortunate students who got in Taiwan's National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) Summer Research Program last May to July 2018.

Malayan Colleges Laguna (MCL) has been actively helping its students expand their horizons through partnerships with international institutions, and one of its grantees was 5th year Chemical Engineering (ChE) student Top Archie P. Dela Peña, who successfully passed and entered Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) Summer Research Program administered by the College of Engineering International Affairs (COEIA) from May to July 2018.

Also awarded with the Global Engineering Leadership (GEL) Scholarship, Top was granted a subsidized roundtrip airline ticket up to NT$15,000 and free university dormitory accommodation for his entire period of stay, and a tuition waiver.

Having an excellent academic record, together with the statement of purpose and some examples of written work, were the major requirements for application. Since he is still an undergraduate, Top submitted his Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) thesis proposal paper.

Several things made him doubt that he would be able to get into the program: the admission process was very tough and only limited slots were available, the acceptance rate was only at 8 to 10 percent of the hundreds of qualified students from all over the world, and the program was looking for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Top with the tasks and equipment he utilized at NTHU.

But Top was fortunate enough to be the first from the Philippines to get accepted since the program started. He got in with other students from India, Russia, China, USA, Japan, France, and Vietnam. “I wasn’t expecting it because according to the professor who conducted the orientation for us, those who are accepted are very lucky because only the best students are given the opportunity, and several of my classmates were Master’s- and Doctoral- degree students with extensive research experiences,” Top shared. “That gave me mixed emotions of encouragement and fear. I was determined to perform the best that I could, but at the same time, I was terrified that my skills and knowledge were not comparable to them.”

Because of their similar research interests in the field of nanomaterials and renewable energy, Top was advised by Dr. Shih-Yuan Lu, a Chemical Engineering Professor and currently the Dean of the College of Engineering at NTHU. Top’s research focused on developing an electrode derived from low-cost transition metals for oxygen evolution reaction (OER).

“His idea for the research was to integrate metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) on the surface of Ni-Fe nanowire electrodes. Both MOF and nanowire catalyzed electrodes showed great performance based on literature and experimentations done in our lab, but the synergistic effect of the said novel integration was not yet investigated particularly for water splitting.”

Top, together with Dr. Lu and the new entry Master's students in the lab

On his first day at NTHU, Top’s mentor Hsieh Cheng-Ting and the other members of Dr. Lu’s lab accommodatingly oriented him about their current research, the available facilities in the laboratory, and a clear view on what he was supposed to work with.

Unfortunately, since the program was only limited for a period of two months and he needed to return to the Philippines to finish his degree, Top was unable to continue working on this research. However, it will be continued by two graduate students at NTHU under the Department of Chemical Engineering and Nanomaterials and Nanostructures Laboratory.

His entire experience was “totally a treasure to keep,” from meeting new friends to gaining new learnings. It also helped him boost his self-confidence and allowed him to learn different cultures. “Certainly, this experience was utterly a great foundation and merit for my future graduate study plans.”

The NTHU Summer Research Program is an annual program for international students who are aspiring to conduct research under one of its departments: Chemical, Power Mechanical, Material Science, Industrial and Management, Nano and Microsystems, and Biochemical Engineering.

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