Humanitarian Engineering

It is now my 8th week into job. wow.

Over the weekend, I planned to talk to the boss if I will have the opportunity to work with the other department once we moved to our new office. I was expecting to receive a question from the boss whether I hate my current job that I pop out this question out of nowhere.

So while I was rehersing my answer, it came to me that if I think of this job differently, for example, rather than taking that I am plainly serving the client, which seem unmeaningful and lifeless, I could think of it as some kind of humanitarian engineering work, like doing it for the people who lives in the vicinity of the sites that I went to. Monitoring the groundwater at these sites so that their water source is clean and safe so people don’t get sick and die sounds more meaningful isn’t it?

10 years down the road I imagine myself involved in humanitarian engineering. I want to be a flood analyst who studies how to reduce the impact on the people because of global warming changes to the catchment hydrology .

Yes, now that I’ve wrote it down, it seems clearer now. Regardless of which path I ended up in, this is where I am heading. Though right now what I am doing is probably a little bit different, I trust that I will get there.


A degree is just a degree

Since graduation in March, I have had a few people, mostly friends of mom and dad, asking me if I have secured a job. I was aware that I was unemployed most probably because I was choosy and was all about the passion and interest ‘crap’. So I get people telling me that a degree is just a degree and it is just some stage in life that you have to get through to get a job, that it does not have to be related to what you studied, and a lot of people ended up doing something else. Then there was another person who told me to put aside my interest unless I want to be unemployed for a long time.

Honestly, I hate being in the middle of such conversation and receiving such response. I am torn between respect and voicing out my opinion because I strongly disagree.

Well, if that is what you think a point of a degree is, why don’t we only have a general degree that we can all later go into whatever industry out there. To me that statement is unfair to those who chose their degree out of passion. I know it is probably true that work may not be as amazing as we imagined, but that is not a reason to give up so early.

If everyone decides to let go of their dreams now because it is too difficult, tell me when is it a good time, tell me is there a less difficult time? Why do I have to sacrifice, why can’t I be that person who make it happen now so that people after me can do the same, why, why, why?


An interview

I had an interview this morning for a junior EHS consultant position. As usual, at the start of the interview I was given the opportunity to talk about myself. In the last interview, I wasn’t being completely honest because I know that would cost me a job. I know, if I told the interviewers that my interest is something else that is not in the scope of the position, that would be really stupid. So since I have secured a position at another company, I decided to not reserve my interest. I mentioned that I am highly interested in water resource and most of what I have studied in my degree was focused on water, when I am aware that water resource is not part of the department’s businesses (I don’t know if people find it weird, but I find it weird that an environmental department doesn’t deal with water). So the interviewers decided to refer me to a different department that is hiring a graduate WSUD (Water Sensitive Urban Design) engineer because they thought the department could do my interest some justice. Which, of course I was happy.

The interview was cut short because I am considered as no longer interested with the initial position. Before I left the room, I had a short chat with the hiring manager. However, then only I was told that the WSUD team is looking for civil engineering graduates only. According to her, environmental engineering graduates are not suitable for this position because the department does treatment plant design and there are calculations involved, which apparently is beyond the knowledge of environmental engineers because all we study is impact assessments.

Are you kidding me? I cried all the way home, because the statement was too stupid I could not accept it. Clearly, as a hiring manager, you have no idea what the hell we study. It is frustrating to me knowing that there is an opportunity for me to do something that I want to do but was told that it is not within my field.



The first paper

I used to criticize people’s decision to go into research. I always question how or what they earn from the hard work, long hours of stressing out for the write up, going through breakdowns, for a piece of ‘paper’.

I didn’t understand, but I think I do now. That piece of paper gives a satisfaction of its own, knowing that it has the power to share the knowledge with people elsewhere in the world..is priceless.

Yesterday, I saw my paper listed in the list of accepted papers on the congress website. I do not think any words could explain this feeling because it is just, again, priceless. All the extra time spent for this piece of paper was all really worth it.

So this is my first ‘paper’, I hope there will be a second, third, and fourth and so on in the future.


World Water Week

On our three hour journey in a high speed train to Göteborg or the English spelling, Gothenburg, I flipped through the pages of dad’s Stockholm Water Front mag on the World Water Week that will be held in Stockholm in September. Among the topics will be discussed during the 6-day convention is (of course) water governance and management. One of the main aims of the convention were actually discussed in the OceanSolution forum, which is connecting the scientific findings with experts from other fields like the policy makers, developers, and the civic community. In the forum we discussed why recent development still fail to preserve our water resources, and we came to the point that there is lack of communication between the people who knows the solution, and those who make it happen.

On a lighter note, I was actually quite excited to find the point I raised in our classroom discussion is also a point of interest in the global forum. Okay this is lame.

The World Water Week theme centres around exploring the power of cooperation, which is really interesting. I remembered our first lesson in Introduction to Environmental Engineering, where it emphasizes the fact that the world is a system and every component depends on each other, none of it works in isolation. Which, is also why our school is called Environmental ‘Systems’ Engineering or in short, SESE!

I would have certainly send my entry for the Stockholm Junior Water Prize if I were eligible. The website says “it is open to young people between ages 15-20, who have conducted water related projects” – sigh I am no longer young -.-‘


Tulips at Gothenburg




I live in the busiest township close to Kuala Lumpur. It is busy in the sense that traffic coming in and out of the township area during peak hour is just crazy. Traffic congestion is just a part of our daily lives, 15 minutes in (literally in) the roundabout is very normal. Sometimes I admit without the crazy traffic, everything seems pretty bizarre as if I woke up in a foreign place, then again sometimes, it is just too much. Our government have spent a lot on widening roads and building alternative highways, which finally answers my question as to why our roadsides are not green and shady and the grasses are patchy – because they keep cutting down the trees as they replant, to widen the road.

From my most probably biased sampling of cars passing a specific stretch of the New Klang Valley Expressway during peak hours, at least 95% of the cars were single drivers. It is quite obvious that the average time of a person spent in car could be shortened by carpooling and more of that time could be spent on something worth doing, like sleeping..? So I went home and Googled existing carpooling or ride share websites in Malaysia, and there are actually a number of them. I think mostly were people in Johor Bahru looking to carpool to Singapore and back, which is good because the causeway is a piece of congested bridge that connects southern Malaysia, Johor Bahru, to Singapore.

So I guess I do not have to set up a new website for Klang Valley, I should probably help to promote the existing ones, after all it serves the same purpose. Here are the websites that I found: Carpool King, TompangBuddy, Carpool World, myCarpoolCentre


image source:  Park Bench Chatter


Officially unemployed

After today, I am officially unemployed.

Today is the last day for the IAHR full paper submission, which means my work here is done. I am off to start a new journey, new attempts to make the world a better place. So I’m brainstorming a little to-do list,

  • to complete my OceanSolution course and be actively involved in the discussion
  • to learn graphics design, so I can make environmental awareness posters
  • to write more entries in this blog
  • I don’t know, join a movement maybe?
  • ahh volunteer at the zoo! I’ve always wanted to do that
  • to plan an effective recycling system for someplace like what she did
  • to set up a Klang Valley carpooling website
  • just keep trying. period.

I hope my paper will be accepted. I really want to see the Juizhaigou Valley and pandas and meet great people in the industry and get employed.


The amazing Jiuzhaigou Valley
source: BeautyPlaces


p/s: by the time this entry is posted, I found out that the submission date has been postponed. oh well



I am a very skeptical person. As much as I hope not, regardless of whatever happens after the 13th general election, I think this will still be relevant in a long time.


From Judy Horacek‘s I am a women, hear me draw.

And my heart goes out to you, the future generation of my country. I don’t know if you will still have the chance to see orangutans in the wild or learn that corals are coloured, not white.

featured image source: Google on Earth Hour


Plastic, not so fantastic

I was watching a few TEDx talks on YouTube this morning and eventually came across this one. And I was like, WOW! while my hands quickly put away all the plastics within my reach, bottles, calculator, remote control, pens, because I felt the guilt (because I think she could see me through the screen) haha I stopped at that point when I realized, I missed the closest thing to me – my laptop!

I realized how much plastics we use everyday, some of it is really unnecessary. I am a little bit disappointed with myself at this point, not quite a tree-hugger there aye?

I might end up leaving the house empty if I were to clear off the plastics in this house. Hence she has my respect for being really dedicated.

link to Fake Plastic Fish


image source  TimSilverwood.wordpress