ENVIRONMENTAL concerns such as pollution, climate change, waste management and the efficient use of resources are just some of the priorities of industry today.
Beyond compliance with environmental regulations and standards, businesses are looking at finding better ways to do things to grow their business, while ensuring that their activities and operations leave less of an environmental footprint.
Additionally, they are also focusing on converting waste into renewable energy.
Given these imperatives, environmental engineers have been very much sought after in recent years for the role they play in environmental stewardship and sustainability.
Cognisant of the important role environmental engineers play within the industry, Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) added the MSc in Industrial Environmental Engineering to its list of postgraduate courses in January 2020.
The only postgraduate degree of its kind offered in Malaysia, the Master of Science (MSc) in Industrial Environmental Engineering, offers both a conventional mode and open distance learning (ODL) programmes.
The programme prepares graduates and professionals with advanced knowledge on environmental technologies and processes to meet the demands of various industries such as oil and gas, beverage, semiconductor, and textile, to name a few.
UTP’s associate professor Dr Bashar S Mohammed, who is the chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, says that the programme is crucial for the industrial sector for several reasons.
“Industries are subject to numerous environmental regulations and standards. This programme was designed to equip professionals with the knowledge to understand and apply them, to meet requirements for legal compliance and environmental protection for sustainability,” he says.
“Industrial activities can generate various types of pollution such as air emissions, wastewater discharge and hazardous waste contamination energy use.
“Hence, the programme emphasises on pollution prevention techniques and technologies, waste treatment technologies and renewable energy technologies – enabling professionals to identify and implement effective measures to minimise pollution.”
He shares that the Industrial Environmental Engineering Master’s programme at UTP has a cutting-edge curriculum that is designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills to address complex environmental challenges in industrial settings.
The programme is aligned with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focusing on sustainable practices, pollution prevention and resource efficiency to create a greener and more sustainable future.
“The programme is specifically tailored to address the environmental challenges faced by industries, particularly in the area of environmental assessment,” he adds.
“With a focus on managing incidents such as spillage and contamination, this programme equips professionals with the necessary skills to effectively assist and mitigate such incidents, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the environment.
“The programme contributes to the sustainable practices and responsible stewardship of our natural resources.”
Crucially, Dr Bashar believes that the programme provides professionals with the necessary expertise to address environmental challenges, and contribute to a greener and more sustainable future for the industry.
Programme manager Dr Ho Yeek Chia says UTP’s close relationship with industries ensure that the course addresses industry needs related to sustainable development.
Jointly developed with PETRONAS’ Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) fraternity, the goal of the programme is to reduce competency gaps by providing advanced knowledge on environmental technologies and processes to prevent losses.
Apart from lectures and research projects, the students also benefit from technical seminars and adjunct lectures, available for both conventional and ODL mode students.
Relevant advice from UTP’s robust Industry Advisory Panel, which include industry advisory panels, alumni, and professors both locally and internationally, complement the input in the development of the programme.
The programme is also aligned to the UN SDGs and PETRONAS’ aspiration to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, as well as the 12th Malaysia Plan’s theme of advancing sustainability.
Ho says the course will benefit those working in the environmental field, especially in areas such as wastewater treatment, renewable energy, waste management, air pollution abatement, climate change and greenhouse gas management.
Engineers already working in the health, safety and environment departments, or facilities management, will also benefit from the programme.
With the knowledge gained from the postgraduate degree, students can expect to progress in their careers, whether as environmental engineering consultants, regulatory specialists or sustainability managers.
For 35-year-old Laura Vega Garcia, who completed a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from Universidad de America Colombia in 2011, previous work experiences exposed her to the challenges industries face related to emissions such as gas, wastewater, solid and hazardous waste.
“I was drawn to the field of sustainability and environmental management, as I believe it is crucial to address these challenges and find sustainable solutions,” she says.
“Furthermore, I observed that industries and governments worldwide are increasingly shifting towards more sustainable processes to reduce environmental impacts, improve performance and cut costs.”
Her research into the various offerings in sustainability and environmental studies led her to UTP.
“What attracted me to this programme is its core focus on solving complex environmental problems within industries. The affiliation with PETRONAS adds credibility and assures that I would receive practical and industry-relevant knowledge,” she says.
Upon completing the programme in 2022, she was interviewed by various operators in the oil and gas sector in Canada, including the likes of Canadian Natural Resources Limited, PETRONAS Canada and Gibson Energy.
“The fact that I received interview offers from multiple well-established operators demonstrates the value and recognition of the qualification I earned from UTP,” says Garcia, who is now an Operations Engineer in a renowned Canadian company.
“The industry-focused curriculum at UTP equipped me with a strong foundation in answering questions about complex environmental problems within the context of the oil and gas sector.
“This expertise set me apart from other candidates and positioned me as a desirable candidate for employers in the industry.”
She points out that UTP’s MSc in Industrial Environmental Engineering also adheres to the engineering education standards established in Canada, particularly in Alberta.
“This recognition holds immense value as it signifies that my educational background aligns with the rigorous professional standards set by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta.
“Such recognition further enhances my qualifications and expands my career opportunities within the province,” she adds.
Similar to Garcia, Syed Abdur Rahman, who has a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication from Visvesvaraya Technological University, India, chose UTP for its industry-relevant curriculum and the university’s close links with the industry, especially PETRONAS.
Currently in his second semester, Syed says that the course has made him more aware of the environmental aspects of industries, “I’m positive this course will benefit my career.”
For more information on the UTP’s Master of Science in Industrial Environmental Engineering, visit www.utp.edu.my.