By Liew Hanqing
FOR about an hour, they wandered lost in a remote part of Singapore they never even knew existed.
To make things worse, it started raining heavily.
But the wet weather did not dampen the spirits of the students from National Junior College (NJC), who were out gathering data for their project - a proposal for a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system in Jurong East.
The team, consisting of Lo Kung Yin, Michael Kevin, Phang Wei Qiang, Pamela Chua and Edwin Tan, all 18, finished second at the recently-concluded 2009 Singapore Land Authority (SLA) Spatial Challenge.
The contest aims to increase awareness of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) - a collection of tools including GPS and satellite images used to collect, store and analyse spatial data - here.
Michael, one of the team members, told The New Paper that they picked the LRT proposal as their project because the Jurong Lake District was an up-and-coming hub.
He said: 'We wanted to come up with an idea that would improve transportation for residents of that district.'
The team proposed a route servicing nine stations, including stations close to the Jurong East bus interchange, IMM and the Science Centre.
The team had to estimate the population density of the Jurong Lake District by counting the number of residential blocks in the area, then multiplying it by the average number of floors in each block, units per floor and an estimated household size of three.
Team member Pamela Chua added: 'We were each allocated a different part of Jurong to survey. We did quite a lot of leg work.'
Michael also spent almost five hours on the Bukit Panjang LRT line, taking notes on its speed and frequency. While surveying their designated areas, team members Edwin and Wei Qiang found themselves lost - in the pouring rain - in an abandoned HDB estate.
Said Miss Kavitha Annadhurai, 27, the teacher-in-charge of the project: 'I received a call from them that day telling me they were lost. In the end, I helped them find their way by looking up a map online. I told them that this is what true field work is about.'
The students spent about three months working on their project for the competition, which included a live presentation and written proposal.
Said Michael: 'We didn't expect to do so well in the competition - we were just happy that we had done a good job on the project.'
Said Wei Qiang: 'We realised that plotting the LRT route was not that simple because of the built-up areas in Jurong.
'We had to consider how we would build an LRT track without disturbing the residents too much.'
Commenting on the project, a spokesman for the Land Transport Authority said it demonstrated a 'good effort to benchmark and gauge the performance of the proposed LRT system via travel surveys on the existing Bukit Panjang LRT system.'
The spokesman added that the team's survey results provided the platform for the report to make conclusions about the suitability of an LRT system in Jurong East.
'The students were also mindful of the sentiments of main stakeholders like LRT users and attempted to gather feedback from them,' the spokesman said.
This article was first published in The New Paper.