Curtin environmental engineering students go on Kuching field trip

Miri – 3 May 2017 – Seven undergraduate environmental engineering students of Curtin University, Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) went on a 3-day field trip to the state capital recently as part of their course’s ENST 2002 Conservation Biology and Sustainability unit.

Among the places visited were the Sarawak office of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, Sarawak Biodiversity Centre, Matang Wildlife Centre, Fisheries Research Institute at Bintawa and the Sarawak Museum.

The group’s visit to the WWF-Malaysia office allowed them to learn more about WWF projects in Borneo and the organisation’s experiences in nature conservation. WWF-Malaysia Head of Conservation for Sarawak, Dr. Jason Hon, briefed them WWF-Malaysia’s conservation activities in Sarawak, including sustainable forest management, advocacy for sustainable development and nature conservation, and community engagement for conservation.

At the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, the biggest wildlife rehabilitation centre in Sarawak, the students garnered insights into the conservation of orang-utans and other wild animals. They also learned about the establishment of the wildlife centre and the Semenggoh Nature Reserve in which it sits, as well as the park’s attractions and future plans.

Maldivian student Bassam Mohamed said he was fascinated by the orang-utans at the centre and expressed an interest to work as a volunteer there during his upcoming semester break.

Indonesian student Medina Hartati, too, enjoyed the visit to the centre, saying that it was her first encounter with orang-utans and that she learned a lot about the fascinating animal and the challenges wildlife experts face in rehabilitating them.

Over at the nearby Sarawak Biodiversity Centre, staff of the centre enlightened the students on various aspects of the centre such as its regulatory function, traditional knowledge documentation, conservation of useful plants, research and development activities and natural products library. The students also had the opportunity to tour the centre’s herbarium collection, animal specimens and nursery garden.

At the Matang Wildlife Centre, meanwhile, the students learned about the centre’s contribution to nature conservation through captive rearing programmes for endangered species such as hornbills, orang-utan and deer. They were taken on a trek through the centre where they got to identify captive rearing fauna and were briefed by staff on their natural habitats and behaviour.

More interesting insights on fishery research and sustainability in commercial and recreational fishing were gathered by the students at the Fisheries Research Institute at Bintawa. They also viewed the institute’s gallery and fish specimens.

Their field trip ended with a visit to the world-renowned Sarawak Museum, the oldest museum in Borneo founded in 1888, where they learned about Sarawak’s history, culture and heritage, as well as its socio-economic development through the years.

Accompanying the students on the field trip were Dr. Tay Ai Chen, lecturer for the unit, and Dr. John Lau Sie Yon, coordinator of Curtin Malaysia’s Environmental Engineering Programme.

Dr. Tay said that such field trips really enrich the learning experience of students, taking them out of the classroom and into the real world. She said this trip enabled the students to appreciate the biodiversity of Sarawak and the importance of flora and fauna in the ecosystem so that they will have a greater awareness of nature and the environment in their future careers as environmental engineers.

According to Dr. Lau, such field trips are regularly organised for Curtin Malaysia’s environmental engineering students. He said that as Curtin places great emphasis on ensuring students are industry-ready when they graduate, the trips provide the students valuable industrial exposure and experience as well as the opportunity to observe environmental engineers at work.

Curtin’s environmental engineering programme 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 of the programme will enjoy good employment prospects as the demand for environmental engineers is growing rapidly throughout the world.

For more information on Curtin Malaysia, visit its website (, its Facebook page (CurtinMalaysia), Twitter profile (curtinmalaysia), Google+ page (Curtin Malaysia) or Instagram (curtinmalaysia).

The students and lecturers with Dr.Jason Hon of WWF-Malaysia (3rd left).

Sarawak Forestry officer Mr. Gad briefing students on rehabilitation of orang-utans at Semenggoh Wildlife Centre.

Students at Sarawak Biodiversity Centre’s nursery garden.

Students pose for photo with Mr, Siali, Matang Wildlife Centre manager.

The group at the Fisheries Research Institute at Bintawa.

Share this