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Undergraduates learn in ‘outdoor classroom’

Miri – 26 October, 2010 – To meet its objectives of getting its students to learn beyond the classroom, the Science and Mathematics Department of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) recently organised a 5-day excursion for its Bachelor of Science undergraduate students to Kundasang and Mesilau in Sabah.


The trip gave the students majoring in Applied Geology and Geophysics the opportunity to relate and apply what they had learned in the classroom to applicable activities such as geological field mapping and compiling a geological map and history of the area.


The students were required to carry out an independent mapping of a field area and present a compilation of results for a final map upon return to Miri. Such field projects equip the students with a sound basis for professional careers in various fields, including mining, mineral and petroleum exploration, engineering geology and hydrogeology.


Divided into eight groups, the students mapped specific zones in a designated mapping area of approximately 3 kilometres wide and 8 kilometres long daily.


According to Dr Franz-Luitpold Kessler, head of the Department of Science and Mathematics, Sabah is an ideal place for geological survey.


“Mount Kinabalu is a large essentially granitic body that was emplaced within the Kinabalu suture zone. It has risen to 4 kilometres above sea level to its present summit altitude of 4101 metres and is still rising at a rate of a few millimetres yearly. It is the youngest granite pluton in the world and an almost perfect place for our students to study,” he said.


Senior lecturer Dr. Dominique Dodge-Wan meanwhile said that the Department of Science and Mathematics has a well-planned strategy to train its students in field work. As a result, the students are expected to demonstrate an ability to interpret geological mapping and write concise geological reports describing their geological observations.


Dodge-Wan was impressed with her students’ fitness and positive attitude during the trip. She said they were all certainly in good shape to be geologists, walking 5 kilometres everyday without breaking a sweat.


Natalie Ha, a second-year Applied Geology student and full-time employee of Shell Sarawak Berhad, described the trip as an opportunity to learn more about geological features, as well as a good activity for relieving stress.


Another student, Vincent Chin, who was impressed by the vast field knowledge of his lecturers, said, “Tertiary education should not be restricted to the classroom and lecture slides and notes. This field trip has given us a valuable hands-on experience and at the same time promoted closer student-lecturer relationships.”


The Science and Mathematics Department, which is part of Curtin Sarawak’s School of Engineering and Science, adheres to the university’s vision of being a preferred choice for education and research. It applies the latest technologies and methodologies in teaching and learning and offers its students an exciting and stimulating learning environment with state-of-the-art classroom and laboratory facilities.


More information on the Department of Science and Mathematics and the courses it offers are available at Alternatively, you can call +60 85 443 939.

Students on arrival at Kundasang.


Surrounded by picturesque scenery.


Rainy whether did not dampen the students’ enthusiasm.


Surveying the Mesilau River.


Dr Franz Luitpold Kessler, head of the Department of Science and Mathematics.