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Curtin Sarawak team competes in finals of IChEC 2016 debate competition

Miri – 5 April 2016 – A team from Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) team was among the top eight qualifying teams in the finals of the Indonesia Chemical Engineering Challenge (IChEC) 2016 debate competition in Bandung, Indonesia recently.

The team comprising chemical engineering undergraduates Nguyen Quang Minh, Gibson Tan Yao Sheng and Tan Suefay-Goh were under the guidance of academic advisor Dr. Bridgid Chin Lai Fui of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Curtin Sarawak’s Faculty of Engineering and Science.

The Curtin Sarawak team advanced to the finals following a good showing in the essay-writing assessment round in which teams had to write essays using their own ideas combined with scientific information on the theme ‘Potency of Coal in Substituting Chemical Industry Feedstock’.

It was the first time a team from Curtin Sarawak, which happened to be the only team representing Malaysia, participated in the debate competition.

Other universities in the finals were hosts Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Diponegoro University, University of Indonesia, Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology, University of Santo Tomas and Gadjah Muda University.

According to Dr. Chin, effective communication skills is an important consideration for potential employers and by participating in debate competitions, Curtin Sarawak students can hone their critical thinking and communication skills to gain that added edge.

Vietnamese student Nguyen, meanwhile, remarked that a good engineer should not only possess solid background knowledge in engineering, but also the ability to think out of the box and engage in technical discussions in a mature and professional way.

He said the team found that debate competitions like IChEC 2016 allows them to overcome their fear of public speaking and also trains them to prepare credible arguments within a stipulated timeframe.

“Though we did not win, it was a good learning experience engaging in scientific arguments with our international opponents,” added Nguyen.

Themed ‘Empowering the Nation through Coal-based Chemical Industry’, IChEC is an annual event organised by the Chemical Engineering Student Union of ITB in collaboration with the university’s Department of Chemical Engineering.

It provides students with a platform to showcase their creative thinking skills, effective communication skills and technical knowledge as the competitions rely on teams applying both chemical engineering knowledge and multi-disciplinary skills to solve global issues.

Curtin Sarawak is Curtin University’s largest international campus, offering identical courses as its Australian parent. Curtin University’s strong rankings in the recently released 2016 QS World University Rankings by Subject are a clear indication of the quality of its programmes and related courses offered at the Malaysian campus, which includes both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in chemical engineering.

For more information on Curtin Sarawak, visit its website (, its Facebook page (Curtin University Sarawak Malaysia), Twitter profile (curtinsarawak), YouTube channel (CurtinUniSarawak) or Instagram (curtinsarawak).

Team members Gibson Tan (left), Nguyen Quang Minh (centre) and Tan Suefay-Goh (2nd right) with Associate Professor Chua Han Bing (2nd left) and Dr Bridgid Chin (right).

Nguyen representing government team standing on the motion ‘The house believes that coal-to-chemical should be skipped in the development of chemical industry.’