Curtin Malaysia engineering undergraduate champ in Final Year Project Competition

Miri, Sarawak – 5 June 2024 – Engineering undergraduate student Tang Yien Yu of Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) recently emerged as champion in the 7th Tan Sri Haji Yusoff Ibrahim Final Year Project (FYP) Competition 2023. She walked away with a cash prize of RM1000 for her winning project titled ‘The Occurrence of Microplastics in Water, Sediment, and Fish of Rajang River in Sibu, Sarawak’.

Organised by The Institution of Engineers, Malaysia (IEM) and The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the competition encouraged engineering undergraduates to produce excellent quality final-year projects. The awards ceremony was held during the 65th Annual General Meeting of The Institution of Engineers, Malaysia (IEM) at Malakoff Auditorium, Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Another Curtin Malaysia student, Ho Kenyi, secured third spot, earning an RM400 cash prize for his project titled ‘Evaluation and Optimisation of the Coagulation-Flocculation Process using Durio Zibethinus (Durian) and Jackfruit as Natural Coagulants’.

Tang and Ho both expressed profound gratitude to the Faculty of Engineering and Science at Curtin Malaysia for its invaluable support, guidance, and provision of advanced laboratory facilities that played a pivotal role in shaping their research and enhancing their understanding of environmental issues.

Tang, who is now an environmental executive who examines the environmental and social impacts of hydropower projects to ensure regulatory compliance, said, “I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to my supervisor, Associate Professor Tony Hadibarata, for his exceptional guidance and unwavering support throughout my student journey at Curtin Malaysia. In addition, I would like to thank Curtin Malaysia for its financial support, which enabled me to present my work at the competition.”

Tang’s project highlighted the pervasive presence of microplastics as environmental pollutants, threatening ecosystems and human health. Her study aimed to specifically uncover the abundance, distribution, and characteristics of microplastics in the Rajang River, the country’s longest waterway and a crucial water source for Sarawak, providing insights for informed policy decisions on waste management and wastewater treatment to combat plastic pollution.

Ho, meanwhile, expressed gratitude to his project supervisor, Associate Professor John Lau Sie Yon, for the support Lau rendered towards his success in producing quality work.

“In addition to Associate Professor Lau, I would like to extend my gratitude to Curtin Malaysia for providing the laboratory facilities, and to the Sarawak Research and Development Council for awarding me a research grant, to accomplish this project, and contributing to the advancement of sustainable wastewater treatment,” he said.

Currently working as a process engineer in Singapore, Ho provides technical support for testing and commissioning (T&C) of process, mechanical, instrumentation, and automation works on Phase 2 of the Changi Water Reclamation Plant (CWRP).

In Ho’s project, durian and jackfruit and seed starches were grafted and cationised using CTA reagent (3-chloro-2-hydroxypropyltrimethyl ammonium chloride) to replace the hydroxyl group in the starch backbone with positively-charged quaternary ammonium salt groups. His findings showed that these natural coagulants significantly reduced kaolin suspension and river water turbidity by 97 per cent and 95 per cent, respectively, surpassing the chemical aluminium sulphate.

This project’s successful completion revealed the potential for introducing natural coagulants in the sustainable wastewater treatment industry, effectively addressing the issue of intensified fruit waste disposal and reducing the global industry’s environmental impact.

Associate Professor Lau, who is Associate Dean of Research and Development at Curtin Malaysia’s Faculty of Engineering and Science, commended the two students on their achievements, and also thanked the IEM and IET for organising the competition to recognise exceptional engineering projects by undergraduates nationwide, fostering a culture of excellence and innovation in the engineering community.

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Tang Yien Yu is the champion winner for the 7th Tan Sri Haji Yusoff Ibrahim Final Year Project (FYP) Competition 2023

The second placing winner Ho Kenyi earned RM400 cash prize for his project entitled ‘Evaluation and Optimisation of the Coagulation-Flocculation Process using Durio Zibethinus (Durian) and Jackfruit as Natural Coagulants’