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.