A team of students from Heriot-Watt University Malaysia (HWUM) has won four major awards at the recent 9th International Biotechnology Competition and Exhibition (IBCEx 2023), held on 5 and 6 May 2023. IBCEx is an annual event organised by the Bioprocess Engineering Student Society (BIOSS) of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). The competition aims to promote innovation and creativity in biotechnology and provide a platform for young scientists and engineers to showcase their research and development.
Supervised by Dr Adlansyah Abd. Rahman from the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences (EPS), the team, led by Eddie Chung, a fourth-year Mechanical Engineering student, Gertrude Sia Ming Er, year-two Quantity Surveying student and Daryl Foo Wai Hong, fourth-year Mechanical Engineering student, sweeps the Gold Medal, Best Booth, Best Brochure, and Best Presenter (Eddie Chung) awards for their project titled "Batch-Eco Charcoal Production from Rasau (sp. Pandanus Helicopus) Tree for Rural Economic Empowerment."
The project was inspired by the challenges faced by the community in Chini Lake, Pahang, Malaysia, on overgrown and invasive Rasau trees, which are problematic as they grow in thick bushes within the lake and eventually block passages for boats and cause flash floods. In addressing these concerns, the team worked closely with the lakeside indigenous Orang Asli tribes and proposed and established a batch of Eco-Charcoal production process with a developed carboniser. A business model featuring Rasau Eco-Charcoal was also discovered to be viable and profitable for the indigenous community.
The team leader, Eddie Chung Di Wei, who also won the Best Presenter Award, said, "It was a great honour to receive the awards and have our hard work recognised. It was also an amazing networking experience with young talents from across the country and even internationally. I couldn't hope for a better ending to my university career than this."
Team members also shared their experiences:
Gertrude Sia Ming said, "Joining IBCEX not only opens up opportunities for learning about new scientific discoveries, but it also offers a chance to make new friends and learn about various sustainability topics. These experiences benefit individuals and inspire the community towards a better future."
Daryl Foo Wai Hong said, "IBCEx 2023 was a new and interesting experience. It is an honour to participate and win awards in this competition. I also had an amazing time making new friends from different universities while also learning about interesting projects done by them as well. This experience is definitely an unforgettable moment of my university life."
The team's success at the IBCEx 2023 is a testament to their hard work, dedication, and quality of education and research at HWUM. This project is a valuable contribution to the field of biotechnology and has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of people around the world. Congratulations to Dr Adlan and the team!