In the business of betterment
TSince both of his parents were in the medical field, he had wanted to attend medical school to become a doctor.
“When I was a teenager, I loved watching medical dramas such as and but as I slowly entered adulthood, my affinity grew for a mega-structures such as bridges, skycrapers, highways, tunnels and airports,” said Young Tunneller of the Year 2016 award winner Derek Eng Jia Yih.
“I was thinking how awesome and impactful it was, to be part of the teams designing and constructing these structures for the people and nation.
“I still remember the first time I flew on a plane as a child. I would always try to peek into the cockpit to check out the sophisticated navigation system and I never failed to get goosebumps every time.
“At the end of the day, engineering caught my attention because of its bright career prospects and the opportunities that it can offer down the road — not just the excitement and the ‘wow’ factor.”
The 30-year-old chap triumphed above five promising young professionals from other countries at the International Tunneling Awards organised by the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association in Singapore last year.
In this Young Tunneler of the year category, finalists were judged for their success in bringing market innovative ideas or initiatives, challenging normal practices, or leading technically complex operations.
Trained as a civil engineer, Eng obtained his Bachelor in Civil Engineering from Universiti Sains Malaysia in 2010.
“An engineering degree can lead you down many interesting paths and be the springboard towards many great opportunities. It trains you to think outside the box, be analytical and logical.
“Personally, I reckon that there are three key attractions of getting involved in engineering.
“Firstly, it gives you a platform to innovate products and services that matter, to improve the quality of everyday life.
“Secondly, engineers have the chance to create a better world by developing more conducive townships for people to live in, providwater ing clean to every household, constructing state-of-the-art infrastructures to increase connectivity, designing modern airplanes that give comfort while flycreating ing and cutting edge surgical machines to save lives.
“And, thirdly, I also think that engineers can unlock the door to sustainable green techand nology reduce reliance on petroleum-based energy, thus changing the future of new generations on how clean energy should be harnessed,” said Eng.
Employed by MMC Gamuda KVMRT (T) Bhd for the past six years, he is the assistant manager at the Tunnel Department.
He said there are a few defining moments during his service, some of which are transformational.
“I was the tunnel engineer working 12-hour shifts for six days a week. It was all about completing the tunnel drive construction, going through the process of tendering and implementation of a project. Throughout the period of tunnelling, there were many challenges,” he added.
Eng was not only an outstanding tunnel engineer, but also an enthusiastic and dedicated mentor.
Listening to him share his journey, it was apparent that it was Eng’s huge passion and genuine love for dropouts and academically underperforming Malaysian teenagers which had led him to set up and run Malaysia’s first Tunelling Training Academy (TTA) for young Malaysians irrespective of race and religion.
Together with his team, they trained Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) electricians, TBM mechanics and soon they are going to train TBM operators.
To date, TTA has trained and provided jobs for more than 300 vocational students, specialising in tunnel segments erecting, compressed air works, and shotcreting (wet-mix and dry-mix versions) among others.
They have recently developed new modules for
Assistant TBM Operator, TBM Mechanic and TBM Electrician.