NUS Orbital Journey

NUS’s Orbital is one of the highlights of a SOC student where we are given 4 module credit to do anything we want. Like literally. Anything.

It lasts an entire summer break with 3 milestones. We were assigned an advisor to guide us throughout the entire project.

This post will be a documentation of the entire process with my personal thoughts.

Lift Off 1, 14 May:

It’s really painful to wake up in the morning since my body is still recovering from the post-trauma after finals. On the morning itself, we were giving a short briefing on what we should expect from orbital followed by two talks, the ideation process as well as software engineering principles.

Honestly speaking, I don’t find that it will value-add to my orbital experience. No doubt it’s good to know that such things exist, but I feel that they are pushing too much of entrepreneurial elements onto us.




  1. a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.

Coming into orbital my objective is to solve a problem. Not hoping to make a profit.

We were then dismissed for a lunch break.

The first program after lunch was a NOC talk. I couldn’t remember the speaker’s name but I do remember that he gave an excellent talk and he is in charge of the Toronto program. After lunch, audiences usually get either rowdy or drowsy. There is no in-between. But he managed to keep my attention throughout his talk.

Next was Robin giving his presentation on past projects which I find entertaining. Remember my introduction? “to do anything we want. Like literally. Anything.”. Yep, he proved that point. He was also the best person to be doing this talk since he was once a participant and a year later, an advisor.

For the rest of the day, I went into a coma and really couldn’t remember what happened.

Reuben (my partner) and I have no idea what we will be working on over the next 3 months and we have a 1-minute presentation to do tomorrow.

Lift Off 2, 15 May:

We decided to skip the morning workshop and we voice called on telegram to finalize our idea and worked on the presentation slide. I didn’t rehearse for the presentation and hence the quality :/ (yep, for those who were in the hanger, there is one guy who said there are three ways to buy and sell content online, but said “never mind take it as two” because he forgot the 3rd point. That’s me). So I shall take this chance to describe the problem we are trying to solve.

There are indeed 3 ways of buying and selling content online.

  1. Publisher hiring a writer
  2. Publishers to publish an article brief on platforms such as and freelance writers would read the brief and decide if they should proceed with writing
  3. Freelance writer submitting an article to a publisher and hoping that it gets accepted

The problem with the first point is that it isn’t scalable. Hiring is always one of the major problems for growing companies. There is always the formality of interviewing and probation before they are official employees. Such formality is a waste of time. Of course, you could look at the resume and portfolios. But those don’t help you see if an individual fits a company. Imagine hiring a writer that doesn’t suit the company. Now what?

The problem with the second point is that while content is being pumped out, publishers are not getting quality work. Writers using such platforms are often looking for quick bucks. Find a similar article. Re-spin the article. Perform some grammatical touch-ups. And off they go submitting their work to the publisher. While such a platform allows for revision, it is the unnecessary time taken away from a business. How much patience do you have to ask for a billion revisions and still not get the quality you want?

The last point is that this method benefits the publisher a lot. But not so much for content writers. Usually at this stage content writers don’t mind getting fewer bucks in exchange for exposure. Why not have the best of both worlds?

So what do we intend to do?

To create a platform where

  1. Publishers are able to search and purchase articles for topics that they are interested in (solves scalability)
  2. Content writers are able to upload articles/content that they are passionate about (solves the quality issue)
  3. Content writers are given exposure without compromising the value of their work
Advisor, 18 May:

Today we had a voice chat together with our advisor over Skype. It was supposed to be on Lift Off 2 but our advisor started his internship hence the delay. It didn’t really affect us in any way since we were not working on anything for the past few days.

We went briefly went through the objective of the project. The problem we are trying to solve. The stack we will be using (not decided yet). Version control which is Github. The distribution of workload. And the possibility of upgrading to Apollo 11.

The session lasted for about 25 minutes which I find to be pretty productive. It could actually be much longer but since we had not started working on anything there really isn’t any questions to ask.