Curtin Malaysia engineering students make virtual site visit to sewerage treatment plant

Miri – 3 June 2021 – 24 undergraduate chemical engineering and environmental engineering students of Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) recently made a virtual site visit to Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) Sdn. Bhd., which has its head office in Kuala Lumpur, on 19 May 2021. IWK is Malaysia’s national sewerage company which is responsible in developing and maintaining a modern and efficient sewerage system in most parts of West Malaysia.

Joining the students on the virtual visit were lecturers Dr. Lau Shiew Wei, Associate Professor Hari Vuthaluru, Dr. Wendy Ng, Associate Professor John Lau, Dr. Choi Sook Yan and Dr. Tan Yee Yong.

The visit was hosted on the Zoom meeting platform by IWK Sdn. Bhd. Executive for Corporate Communications, James Tian Khai Lieng.

Dr. Lau, who is the chemical engineering lecturer for the subject Wastewater Treatment Processes, delivered a welcoming speech prior to the start of the visit. Tian followed with a briefing on the company’s background and its nationwide sewerage services. This was then followed by a site tour video and a question-and-answer session where the students actively raised questions, especially on wastewater treatment issues during the current pandemic.

During the virtual visit, Tian also introduced IWK Sdn. Bhd.’s Pantai 2 Regional Sewage Treatment Plant, a state-of-the-art mechanised underground treatment plant integrated with surrounding public amenities located in the Pantai Catchment within the city of Kuala Lumpur.

“This was the first time we organised a virtual site visit for the subject due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, we arranged physical site visits to local treatment plants, such as the Miri Septic Sludge Treatment Plant,” said Dr. Lau.

“However, while face-to-face onsite exposure to industrial practices are out of the question right now, we see diverse opportunities for cross-border online learning using various virtual meeting platforms. Several of our students joined the virtual site visit from their current locations in Malaysia, Perth, China and Saudi Arabia,” she added.

Also joining the visit were Associate Professor Hari Vuthaluru and students from Curtin’s main campus in Perth. Associate Professor Vuthaluru remarked that it was one of Curtin’s cross-campus teaching collaboration initiatives for the subject where students from both campuses attend online lectures simultaneously using Blackboard Collaborate. It also allows them to participate in virtual site visits and complete their assignments together.

“It is wonderful how students in two distant locations can have a shared learning experience,” he said.

Associate Professor Stephanie Chan, Head of Curtin Malaysia’s Chemical Engineering Department, commented that the COVID-19 pandemic has obviously posed challenges in organising face-to-face activities for student learning and hence various interactive online learning activities have been organised to fill the gap.

“Our department and our IChemE Student Chapter used to arrange two to three educational trips for our chemical engineering students every year before the pandemic. With the current restrictions on travel, virtual site visits are the next best thing to continue providing our students an effective learning experience. I am glad that despite the circumstances, we have been able to organise quite a number of successful online learning events,” said Dr. Chan.

Curtin Malaysia offers Curtin’s four-year Bachelor of Engineering (Hons.) in Chemical Engineering and Bachelor of Engineering (Hons.) in Environmental Engineering. Curtin ranks 2nd in Australia for chemical engineering in ShanghaiRanking’s Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2020 and is in the world’s top 150 universities for chemical engineering and top 200 for environmental sciences in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021.

Screen grab of some of the students and lecturers who participated in the virtual site visit.

The Pantai 2 Regional Sewage Treatment Plant (Photo credit: IWK).

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