In the busi­ness of bet­ter­ment

New Straits Times - - Higher Ed - Zulita@nst.com.my HE de­sire to be­come an en­gi­neer did not come nat­u­rally, not un­til the later stage of his life when he needed to choose the course to pur­sue in univer­sity.

ZULITA MUSTAFA

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.

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