Curtin Malaysia engineering students visit Bakun Dam

Miri – 28 October 2019 – Student members of the Curtin Civil Society (CCS) of Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia), with the support of the campus’ Curtin Highway Infrastructure Research and Innovation Hub (CHIRI) and Department of Civil and Construction Engineering, made a study visit to the Bakun Dam, recently.

The purpose of their visit was to learn more about the civil, mechanical and electrical engineering aspects of the dam, which is the largest hydroelectric dam in Malaysia.

The students were from various disciplines, including construction management, civil engineering, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. Accompanying them were lecturers Dr. Wong Kwong Soon and Ir. Meheron Selowara Joo.

The students and lecturers were received on arrival by station manager Jonny Wong, who later briefed them on the construction and operation of the dam.

Following a dialogue between the dam engineers and the students, the group was taken on a tour of the dam structure where learned about its components such as the reservoir area, power intake structure, spillway, power tunnels and powerhouse.

Head of the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering, Associate Professor Muhammad Ekhlasur Rahman, said such site visits are critical to student learning at Curtin Malaysia’s Faculty of Engineering and Science where they are an important element of the engineering programmes.

“It is important to extend teaching beyond classrooms to help students broaden their horizons and enhance their understanding of the concepts taught by their lecturers,” said Associate Professor Muhammad.

He said Curtin Malaysia values authentic learning and is committed to helping students develop industry-ready skills and enhance student employability through embedding work-integrated learning (WIL) in all units.

WIL involves providing structured and purposefully designed learning experiences that blend theoretical concepts with practice-based learning, as well as engagement in workplace and community settings where students interact and network with industry and community partners.

Associate Professor Muhammad added that the visit to the Bakun Dam was particularly relevant to the construction management students to help them understand the complexities of constructing and managing such a massive infrastructure project – one of the largest civil engineering project Southeast Asia has ever seen.

The four-year Bachelor of Applied Science (Hons.) in Construction Management is a new course at Curtin Malaysia, introduced in the middle of last year. It is a management-oriented degree that prepares students for professional roles in the building and infrastructure construction industries.

The course’s learning areas include quantity surveying, project planning and construction technologies, and graduates can look forward to career opportunities as construction managers, contract administrators, project managers, quantity surveyors, building contractors, property developers and more.

Many of the students came away from the visit being very impressed with the overall development of the dam. They said the visit was an unforgettable experience and they learned a lot about how the dam works and how electricity is generated from it.

The Bakun Dam is located on the Balui River about 60 kilometres from Belaga in central Sarawak. Standing 205 metres tall and spanning 750 metres across, it is the world’s second-tallest concrete-faced rockfill dam.

Owned and operated by Sarawak Energy Berhad, it is capable of generating 2,400MW and supplies power to energy-intensive industries in the Samalaju Industrial Park 60 kilometres northeast of Bintulu.

Station manager Jonny Wong presenting a souvenir to Kenneith Licudine, President of the Curtin Civil Society.

Students and lecturers with Sarawak Energy Berhad engineer at the Bakun Dam.

Students discussing power generation at the Bakun Dam with station manager Jonny Wong.


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