Environmental engineering course takes Curtin students on visits to conservation centres

Miri – 15 May 2019 – 11 environmental engineering students of Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) recently went on a field trip to several wildlife conservation centres in Kuching Division to learn more about the centres and their roles in Sarawak’s wildlife conservation efforts.

The field trip was part of the ENST 2002 Wildlife Conservation unit of their Bachelor of Engineering in Environmental Engineering course.

Accompanied by lecturer Dr. Tay Ai Chen, they visited the Wind Cave Nature Reserve, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, Botanical Research Centre and Matang Wildlife Centre.

At the Wind Cave Nature Reserve about 5 kilometres from the former gold mining settlement of Bau and 48 kilometres from Kuching, the students learned about the cave’s unique limestone formations and the importance of the caves and surrounding protected forest and rivers as wildlife habitats.

While at the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, the biggest orangutan rehabilitation centre in Sarawak 20 kilometres from Kuching, the students discovered how orangutans that were once kept illegally as pets are trained to fend for themselves in the wild.

Meanwhile, at the Botanical Research Centre sited in the Semenggoh Forest Reserve, they learned about the centre’s comprehensive collection of living plants collected from all regions of Sarawak for ex-situ conservation of the genetic resources. They also found out about how it functions as a research and educational centre in tropical botany for scientists, students and the public.

Finally, at the Matang Wildlife Centre, which houses orangutans and other endangered animals and is part of Kubah National Park about 35 kilometres from Kuching, the students learned about the centre’s contribution to conservation through captive rearing programmes for endangered species.

According to student Shaikha Shuhada binti Mohamed Nasir, the visits to the conservation centres highlighted the importance of conserving Sarawak’s unique wildlife and their habitats.

Course-mate Christopher Choo Wei Han commended all those involved in the state’s conservation efforts for their excellent work in protecting its flora and fauna, while Ngieng Hui Yee said the visits put the students in touch with nature.

Overall, they said, the experience broadened their insights into wildlife conservation and gave them a better understanding of how its importance, and that of sustainable development, link to their studies in environmental engineering.

According to Dr. Tay, the Department of Environmental Engineering at Curtin Malaysia’s Faculty of Engineering and Science has been conducting field trips to wildlife conservation centres as part of the environmental engineering course every year since 2016.

“Such study trips give students a better understanding of the issues related to wildlife conservation and the need for sustainable development, so they can effectively address these issues as environmental engineers in the future,” commented Dr. Tay.

She added that she and the students were highly appreciative of the guidance, support and assistance given by the relevant agencies during the visits, which she said were highly informative and in many instances, thought-provoking.

Meanwhile, Curtin Malaysia’s Environmental Engineering Programme Coordinator Dr. Tan Yee Yong remarked that Curtin’s environmental engineering course equips students with a highly practical and innovative engineering experience through field trips, distributed learning, guest lectures, and open-ended labs.

“The course curriculum has been accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Council of Malaysia and graduates of the course enjoy career opportunities in a wide range of economic sectors,” Dr. Tan added.

Curtin’s Bachelor of Engineering (Hons.) in Environmental Engineering was developed at Curtin Malaysia and commenced in 2015. The course structure integrates fundamentals from three majors: chemical engineering, civil and construction engineering and environmental sciences.

The core curriculum is designed to address major global concerns such as environmental conservation and engineering sustainability. The breadth and depth of the curriculum equips students with complex engineering problem-solving skills and an innovative and creative engineering experience. Graduates enjoy good employment prospects as the demand for environmental engineers is growing rapidly throughout the world.


Dr Tay (seated at centre with Sarawak Forestry park ranger) and students pose for photo at Wind Cave Nature Reserve.

Students being briefed at Botanical Research Centre’s orchid garden.

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