Four Curtin Malaysia chemical engineering students win IChemE POPSIG awards

Miri – 29 September 2021 – Four chemical engineering students of Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) have done their university proud by winning The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Palm Oil Processing Special Interest Group (POPSIG) awards.

Students Tessy Bernadine Koh, Kelvin Ong Jee Hui and Yat Yu Dong won IChemE POPSIG Article Honorariums for their palm oil-themed articles while Evane Serrah June Gani won the IChemE POPSIG Best Event Report Award.

The awards were presented following the recent IChemE POPSIG East Malaysia University Roadshow hosted online by the Curtin Malaysia IChemE Student Chapter and co-hosted by the Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus IChemE Student Chapter in collaboration with IChemE POPSIG.

Koh, who is in her final year of her Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical Engineering, submitted an article entitled, ‘Correcting the Role of Palm Oil in the Personal Care Industry’ while Ong and Yat, who are second-year and third-year students respectively, submitted an article entitled, ‘Is Palm Oil Industry Sustainable?’.

Each of them received a RM200 cash prize and a certificate of recognition. The other honorarium winners were from IOI Edible Oils Sdn. Bhd., Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus, University College of Technology Sarawak, and University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. The awards were sponsored by Desmet Ballestra Malaysia and Malaysian Oleochemical Manufacturers Group (MOMG), and all the articles will be published in the upcoming IChemE POPSIG Newsletter.

POPSIG’s theme this year is ‘Correcting the Misperception on Palm Oil’. This special interest group provides a forum to enable knowledge transfer, exchange of best practices and sharing experience to all that are interested in the palm oil industry. It also aims to disseminate correct information about palm oil, and encourage the involvement of the industry professionals, academics and students in the industry.

In line with this year’s theme, Koh’s article explored the lack of awareness of palm oil usage in the personal care industry. According to her, the benefits of palm oil in personal care products are often overlooked by consumers. Palm oil derivatives such as carotenoids, squalene and glycerol have unique dermatological benefits and new technologies used to extract these derivatives are actually very sustainable and environment-friendly.

Ong’s and Yat’s article gave a narrative of the environmental, social and economic aspects of the palm oil industry. They said that many initiatives have been implemented in the palm oil industry over the years to reduce its negative environmental impacts, support the three pillars of sustainability and create new business opportunities. The establishment of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has also encouraged the palm oil industry to be self-sustainable by implementing green technologies.

Meanwhile, Evane won her award for her comprehensive report on the IChemE POPSIG East Malaysia University Roadshow which summed up the speakers’ presentations and panellist forum discussions.

Supervising the students in their article and event report submissions was Dr. Bridgid Chin Lai Fui, a senior lecturer in Curtin Malaysia’s Department of Chemical and Energy Engineering.

“I am very pleased with their achievements. Not only have they demonstrated their critical thinking and writing skills, they have also gained valuable exposure to a national competition. I am sure their wins will motivate other students to participate in such academic competitions in the future,” said Dr. Chin.

Associate Professor Ir. Stephanie Chan Yen San, Head of the Chemical and Energy Engineering Department, also commended the students and Dr. Chin, saying “The four students have shown great initiative and their keen interest in chemical engineering by participating in the competition despite their heavy study workloads. Under the guidance and encouragement of Dr. Chin, they did very well.”

Meanwhile, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Science, Professor Tuong-Thuy Vu, in conveying his congratulations to the students, said it is heartening to see Curtin Malaysia’s engineering and science students continue to excel in national and international competitions despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. It shows that they take their studies seriously and are eager to apply what they have learned in such competitions, he said.

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) is a global professional engineering institution with over 35,000 members in over 100 countries worldwide. It was founded in the United Kingdom in 1922 and has offices in Rugby, London, Melbourne, Wellington, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore. Its mission is to build and support a community and network of professionals involved in all facets of the chemical engineering discipline.

Curtin Malaysia offers Curtin’s four-year Bachelor of Engineering (Hons.) in Chemical Engineering, which covers the development, design and operation of chemical processes and plants for the extraction, conversion and recovery of materials based on both chemical and biological systems. It prepares students for jobs in a wide range of industries, including petroleum refining, gas processing, petrochemical and polymer production, bio-processing and bio-production, bio pharmaceutics and food processing, minerals and metals extraction, and the production of industrial and fine chemicals. Curtin is ranked in the world’s top 150 universities for chemical engineering in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021.

(L-R) Proud winners Evane, Koh, Ong and Yat.

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