Hometown: Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Current School Year: Senior
Anticipated year of Graduation: 2013
Major: Environmental Engineering
Please describe your study/research interests and why.
My initial motivation behind majoring in environmental engineering was due to my interest in waste management, especially where and how it is applicable in my home country. However, after receiving exposure in the water resources field through classes and especially via my co-op experiences, my study and research interest have now grown and expanded to the water resources field with a particular concentration in urban stormwater management. Having lived in cities my entire life thus far, I am especially interested in effective and economical methods and alternatives which successfully tackle urban environmental issues such as reducing the amount of runoff produced. I am however, also interested in other aspects of the water resources field; for instance, my senior design project is to design a net zero or net positive wastewater treatment plant in Philadelphia, PA.
Please describe your co-op experience. Include where you worked, a brief description of your duties, and what you learned.
Having entered Drexel as a transfer student, I was required to fulfill only two co-op cycles under the 5-year track. My first co-op experience was with Sci-Tek Inc., an environmental consultant firm. I was based in the client’s office at the Watersheds Office of the Philadelphia Water Department. As an intern under the stormwater management team, my primary duty was to support the team on tracking metrics of completed stormwater best management practices projects by compiling and analyzing engineering data using Adobe Acrobat Pro and Microsoft Excel. From this experience, I learned extensively about urban stormwater management and especially where it is applicable to the city of Philadelphia.
In the first half of my second co-op, I worked as a research assistant (RA) under Dr. Mira Olson for her project, “Evaluating Bacterial and Chemical Transport in Porous Media.” My duties as an RA were performing laboratory experiments and collecting field data designed to evaluate bacterial transport through soil in the presence of chemical contaminants. At the end of the term, I’d submitted a scientific paper which has since been incorporated into the research paper of her graduate student, Haibo Zhang and submitted for publication. The main lessons gathered from this experience were one, a hands-on exposure as a researcher and second, valuable guidance on the proper procedures in writing a scientific paper.
I spent the remaining half of the co-op period as an intern under the Environment team in Shell-Malaysia Exploration & Production in Sarawak, Malaysia to fulfill my agreement as their scholar. During my 10-week stint there, I was given a project to complete, namely to identify the various types and usages of production chemicals in use in the company and subsequently, to qualitatively assess the residual toxicity of these chemicals in the produced water. Finally, I was required to propose appropriate process treatment removal taking into consideration factors such as feasibility, cost and volume of production. From this experience, I’d not only learned about the Shell work environment, but also the oil & gas industry extensively. Furthermore, I’d also gained knowledge about the available wastewater treatment technologies and how to better adapt them to specific issues at hand. The most memorable aspect of this internship was being able to visit an offshore platform in south Sabah, located approximately 55 KM from land.
Please describe any extracurricular activities that you participate in.
Last fall and winter, I took up a position as a peer mentor for the sequential freshman design course. As a mentor, I’d assisted instructors and teaching fellows in ensuring that labs were carried out smoothly. In terms of campus activities, I am currently president of the Drexel Malaysian Students Association. Although the Malaysian students in Drexel are in total less than ten, we are active in the community through events such as our annual Malaysian Night, bowling social and more. I am also a member of Drexel chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Muslim Students Association.
Explain what you would like to do after graduation.
As a senior, I am currently weighing and working towards the options of either continuing on to graduate school specializing in the field of water resources or to venture into the working world. For the latter, I am keeping my options open to the possibility of a short-term employment in the States or returning home to Malaysia and joining Shell-Malaysia in their upstream business.
Explain what you like about Drexel’s Engineering Program.
My favorite aspect of the Drexel Engineering Program is the hands-on learning via the sequential design courses from freshman up until senior year. Rather than learning concepts and the like purely theoretically, we were instead able to explore and experiment following our areas of interest. For instance, ENGR103 enabled us to do exactly that despite being only freshmen. Skills obtained from this type of learning method such as teamwork, communication and technical writing skills were then able to be transferred and enhanced during the co-op experiences. In addition, the exposure and first-hand experiences gained during co-op enabled us to witness, assess and analyze in-class knowledge as they are used in real life applications.