Students from INTI International University’s Faculty of Engineering and Quantity Surveying embarked on a journey to Bangkok to discover the sights, sounds and unique methods of sustainable energy that can be replicated in Malaysia.

 

Mention “Bangkok” to any Malaysian and the first images that will come to mind are its array of amazing food, its affordable shopping malls and its magnificent temples. What is often unknown is that Bangkok is also home to unique methods of sustainable energy that can be easily replicated in Malaysia. For this reason, 14 students and two academicians from the Faculty of Engineering and Quantity Surveying at INTI International University, Nilai, recently made a visit to the Land of Smiles, to gain knowledge on sustainable energy practices that are used in Bangkok, which are affordable and environmentally-friendly.

As part of their journey, the group paid a visit to the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), an international institution for higher education that specialises in engineering, advanced technologies and sustainable development in the Asian Pacific region. Established in Bangkok in 1959, AIT has become a leading regional postgraduate institution that promotes technological change and sustainable development through education, research and community outreach.

Their campus includes an Energy Park as well as a renewable energy testing and research facility for solar and biomass energies and their application in real life functions. A noteworthy creation from biomass energy is charcoal produce made from waste materials. With about 70% of AIT’s students coming from abroad to study Bangkok’s unique take on sustainable energy, the institution is very focused on its mission to lead sustainable development and its integration into the global economy.

INTI students also visited the Sathyai Sai School, an education-based community that implements renewable energy projects as part of their educational-awareness programme and to serve their energy needs. The community, with a population of approximately 350 individuals, is well known in Thailand as a model community for sustainable and renewable energy projects, and is an example on how innovative engineering can be implemented as part of daily community life to reduce the impact of climate change.

 

The INTI team was greeted by Dr. Art-Ong Jumsai Na Ayudhya, the founder of Sathyai Sai School and Miss Angela Loraine Burrows, the principal of the school and both spent the entire day with the INTI team to show them around the school. Among some of the amazing innovations were the various types of solar panels and wind turbines capable of generating electricity for the entire community. There was also a biodiesel project where the school collected used cooking oil from restaurants and converted them into biodiesel that can power up trucks, as well as a demonstration of a water filtration system where river water is filtered using mineral stones for the school’s daily use. Spending the entire day at Sathyai Sai School, INTI students were also welcomed to meals with the residents, immersing themselves in the unique culture of the community and enjoying the produce from the school’s own farm, which grows a variety of vegetables, fruits and also rice.

Towards the end of the day, Dr. Art-ong, himself a qualified engineer, brought the INTI team to visit another solar farm he had established outside the school that produces energy to be sold to the government of Thailand. The funding will then be used to support the development of Sathyai Sai School, ensuring that the school is self-sustaining.

Voo Kuan Jack, one of the students shared, “What made this visit memorable was our time at the Sathya Sai School. The students are moulded to be morally conscious individuals who can contribute to society, and the fact that the school is able to sustain itself by growing its own food, harvesting rainwater and creating biodiesel for their vehicles is very impressive – all with the aim to reduce global warming.”

Dr Chan Choon Kit, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering and Quantity Surveying, who led the team to Bangkok said he was pleased with the outcome of the trip. “Bangkok may be popular as a food and shopping paradise, but through this trip, our students have gained practical knowledge in the many methods to generate energy in an environmentally-friendly manner and to reduce our carbon footprint. They are now determined to think ‘green’ and are exploring how they can play a part in introducing sustainable energy to Malaysian communities.”

Dr Lai Yin Ling, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Quantity Surveying summarised, “The increasing global demand for sustainable energy means there is a crucial need for qualified and skilled engineers with specialist knowledge in this field. The trip to Bangkok also served to provide international exposure so that our students gain a global perspective, and obtained the knowledge required to translate theories into projects and action plans. Hopefully, the trip will inspire them to create new, innovative and successful ways on how Malaysians can do more to save our environment.”