The ever changing technology landscape is driving engineering education to become increasingly global, cross-disciplinary, and collaborative in nature everywhere. Besides delivering technical knowledge in classroom, a comprehensive engineering curriculum must also engage students in practical learning experiences that place equal emphasize on professional skills training including teamwork, lifelong learning and social responsibility. These are traits that form the core competencies for not only professional engineers but also entrepreneurs.
Sharing the above vision, a group of engineers and scientists from University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong and Dagon University in Yangon, Myanmar embarked on a cross-country and cross-disciplinary experiential learning project to work on one of the major environmental sustainability issues of the 21st century – wastewater treatment. In this reported pilot programme, 16 engineering students from University of Hong Kong travelled to Myanmar for a weeklong programme (2 January to 9 January, 2017) where they worked with 40 students from Dagon University to study wastewater quality at Yangon, Myanmar. This project has enriched students’ understanding on the importance of water, sanitation, and hygiene as keys to national development. They also experienced first-handedly how engineering and science professionals can work together in developing solutions with real-world impact in wastewater treatment. Students from both universities collaborated in teams to design, develop, and deploy an experiment to examine the wastewater condition in Myanmar. Engineering students took the lead on the development of technologies (e.g. implementation of Arduino-based remote data sensing and cloud-based database) to measure and report the biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) in wastewater samples, which is commonly used as an indicator of the degree of organic pollution of wastewater. Science students took the lead on the wastewater sample collections, the experimental design and the reporting of the results beyond the project time frame.
“I learnt things outside my field like how coding helps in environmental sustainability, wastewater treatment methods and BOD testing device technologies, and more importantly to raise the awareness of wastewater problem as well.”
- Mr. Wong Chun Kit (Derek), Year 2 in Electrical Engineering
“This is a unique experience for me to learn, to innovate and to put my technical knowledge to practical use and at the same time, allow me to give back to the community and contribute towards sustainable development in developing countries.”
- Mr. Sanjaied Sian Aziz, Year 2 in Electrical Engineering
Furthermore, our students have experienced and learnt that cultural diversity could possibly be utilized to create group synergy.
“I spent some great evenings with the Computer Science students from Dagon, we discussed about the differences in cultures, technologies and the schooling system in Myanmar and Hong Kong. To my pleasant surprise, we had some great academic and tech based conversation, I got to know about the opportunities that the Computer Science students there have.”
- Miss Vaishali Girdhar, Year 3 in Computer Science
“Despite our differences, the project team members could be seen coordinating on various parts of our project, solving issues and sharing wonderful memories together. The fact that we cherished the diversity within us and utilised the opportunity to work together to learn more about each other actually helped us overcome the cultural barriers between us and our colleagues in Myanmar.”
- Mr. Mohammad Owais, Year 2 in Computer Science
Most importantly, our students have built commitment to the betterment of the world through the project.
“To me, engineers make significant contributions to develop advanced technology for a better world for mankind to live in. I hope that I can be one of the students who can bring new technologies and ideas to Myanmar, my experience can be useful in the future to keep helping those in need.”
- Mr. Wong Fai Ho Dexter, Year 2 in Civil Engineering
Collecting farm waste water
Field trip- collecting water pond waste water
HKU Engineering studentsdemonstrating soldering techniques to DU Science students
The whole team
To know more about this programme, please visit http://codesustain.kitgor.com/2017-jan-myanmar/.