Curtin students enhance knowledge of environmental engineering through site visits

Miri – 23 November 2022 – 24 civil and construction engineering and environmental engineering students of Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) recently enhanced their knowledge of environmental engineering through site visits to B.I.G Industrial Gas Sdn. Bhd. and the Sibuti Sanitary Landfill.

Site visits are an integral component in both the Curtin University civil and construction engineering and environmental engineering courses offered at Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia), its largest global campus.

Frequent site visits are organised for students so that they can gain more technical and practical knowledge and connect theories learnt in the classroom to real-world applications.

The visits to B.I.G Industrial Gas and the Sibuti Sanitary Landfill were jointly organised by the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering at Curtin Malaysia’s Faculty of Engineering and Science and the student-run Curtin Environmental Engineering Club.

Accompanying the students were Head of the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering Associate Professor Ir. Dr. Wong Known Soon and lecturers Dr. Muhammad Noor Hazwan bin Jusoh, Dr. Tan Yee Yong and Dr. Tay Ai Chen.

According to Dr. Muhammad, who is coordinator for the Solid and Hazardous Waste Management unit the students are currently studying, the objective of the site visits was to give the students the opportunity to observe how municipal solid waste and hazardous waste are managed in Miri, as well as enhance their understanding of the design and operations of civil and environmental engineering projects.

At B.I.G Industrial Gas, the students and lecturers were given an overview of the company’s history and core business by branch manager Eric Chong Ted Yoong.

The company’s business involves the manufacturing, distributing and marketing of industrial gases. Its Miri branch has manufacturing units and refilling facilities for carbon dioxide, acetylene, argon and oxygen.

After a safety briefing by the company’s safety officer, the students and lecturers were shown how the company manufactures its gases manages its waste.

At the Sibuti Sanitary Landfill, the main solid waste disposal site for Miri City and Subis District, they were briefed on solid waste management in Miri City and the operation of the sanitary landfill by Miri City Council Assistant Environmental Health Officer Petrus Wen. The Sibuti Sanitary Landfill is one of five sanitary landfills in Sarawak and one of three with leachate treatment plants.

Following the briefing, the students and lecturers were taken on a tour of the leachate treatment plant and landfill cells.

Second-year environmental engineering student Sam Wilson remarked that the Sibuti Sanitary Landfill was interesting because of its filtration system that has been so well built that leachate-affected water can be made safe enough for organisms to live in. The visit to B.I.G Industrial Gas was also an eye-opener as he learned a lot about gas manufacturing there.

Final-year student Tang Yien Yu also found the site visits a great learning experience. Tang said she now has a better understanding of how municipal waste is managed at the landfill, especially when she could see how some of the engineering concepts she has learnt in his course being applied there.

Dr. Muhammad commented that engineering students benefit greatly from site visits and other opportunities for out-of-the-classroom learning as they are able to gain new insights and enhance their understanding of various industry practices.

“If students get the chance to observe actual operations in action, their ability to comprehend the topics they learn will be greatly enhanced and their study of the topics it will be more thorough,” he said.

Dr. Tan Yee Yong, who is coordinator of Curtin Malaysia’s environmental engineering programme, shared this view, saying that site visits also give students a better understanding of the rationale and strategies behind the management and development of various industrial facilities.

Assoc. Professor Ir. Dr. Wong said the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering is constantly seeking new sites for site visits, particularly those related to waste management. He said they are an excellent way for students to acquire advanced knowledge and understanding of how solid and hazardous wastes are managed in the real world, especially in the local community.

Curtin Malaysia offers Curtin’s Bachelor of Engineering in Civil and Construction Engineering, which equips students with the knowledge and skills to apply scientific and technological principles to the design and construction of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water supply and wastewater treatment systems, tunnels, power projects, offshore structures, and commercial and industrial buildings.

The Bachelor of Engineering in Environmental Engineering provides a broad scope of environmental engineering, including water treatment, solid waste management, and domestic and industrial waste water treatment. Graduates can find employment in areas such as environmental impact assessment, environmental monitoring and management systems, soil erosion prevention, noise monitoring and control, recycling systems and oil spill recovery.

Both are four-year honours courses accredited by Engineers Australia (EA) and the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM).

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Students and lecturers pose for group photo with BIG Industrial Gas management team

Group photo with Petrus Wen and Sibuti Sanitary Landfill staff

Petrus Wen explaining leachate collection and treatment system at Sibuti Sanitary Landfill