Be­yond aca­demics

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - COURSE FOCUS -

FOR fi­nal- year me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent Cla­r­ina Chua ( pic), life as a univer­sity stu­dent goes be­yond aca­demic stud­ies.

From teach­ing refugees how to build a flash­light and sim­ple wa­ter fil­tra­tion sys­tem to get­ting in­volved in the in­stal­la­tion of a mi­cro­hy­dro gen­er­a­tor for the Buduk Aru Col­lege in Ba’Ke­lalan, Sarawak, the 21- year- old has a thirst for ac­tiv­i­ties that cre­ate big im­pacts.

“Giv­ing back to so­ci­ety has al­ways been my pas­sion. In March last year, my friends and I es­tab­lished the stu­dent chap­ter of En­gi­neers With­out Bor­ders in Monash Univer­sity Malaysia. En­gi­neers With­out Bor­ders ( EWB) is a non- profit or­gan­i­sa­tion aimed at pro­vid­ing sim­ple sus­tain­able so­lu­tions to im­prove the liveli­hoods of the un­der­priv­i­leged,” she says.

The stu­dent chap­ter of EWB at Monash has been mak­ing waves, work­ing to­gether with other NGOs to make life bet­ter for the un­der­priv­i­leged. One of its first projects in­volved host­ing 20 So­ma­lian refugee stu­dents and teach­ing them ba­sic First Aid as well as how to build a wa­ter fil­tra­tion sys­tem and flash­light.

“These stu­dents are just pass­ing through Malaysia and they do not yet know their des­ti­na­tion. We hope that through these work­shops they learn im­por­tant tech­ni­cal skills and are ex­posed to the idea of en­gi­neer­ing and the con­cept of sus­tain­abil­ity, which they will be able to take wher­ever they go,” says Chua.

In July last year, the group un­der­took a larger scale project in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Light Up Bor­neo, a group that pro­motes ac­cess to elec­tric­ity and light­ing in Bor­neo where such ba­sic ameni­ties are sig­nif­i­cantly ab­sent.

They took a two- and- a- half- hour flight fol­lowed by a 10- hour drive into a ru­ral vil­lage in Sarawak to in­stall a hy­dro­gen­er­a­tor.

The 19 stu­dents to­gether with their su­per­vi­sor Dr Babak Sala­mati, se­nior lec­turer at the School of En­gi­neer­ing at Monash Univer­sity Malaysia, spent a to­tal of three days with the vil­lagers, get­ting to know them and im­mers­ing them­selves in the cul­ture and the way they live. Putting in the mus­cle and tech­ni­cal know- how, the in­stalled hyr­dro­gen­er­a­tor fi­nally gave vil­lagers ac­cess to elec­tric­ity.

The en­thu­si­as­tic young en­gi­neers are now in­volved in the three- phase Project Pos­i­tive Liv­ing Com­mu­nity. Pos­i­tive Liv­ing Com­mu­nity is a shel­ter home for peo­ple re­jected by the so­ci­ety – those who are dis­abled or deal­ing with AIDS and drug or al­co­hol ad­dic­tion.

The project, which be­gan in Au­gust last year, is now in its sec­ond phase. This will see them work­ing on con­vert­ing the stor­age room into a mul­ti­pur­pose room for the res­i­dents.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the en­gi­neer­ing pro­grammes of­fered at the School of En­gi­neer­ing, Monash Univer­sity Malaysia, visit www. eng. monash. edu. my.

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