School of Chemical Engineering Students Sparked a Change in Debak, Sarawak, with Community Service Program on Fire Safety

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The lush greenery of Sarawak provided the backdrop for a community service program on fire safety organized by Majlis Perwakilan Pelajar (MPP) Engineering Campus, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), along with BHEPA USM. The “Berambeh Siswa” event was held from March 10 to March 13, 2023, in Debak, Sarawak, where students from different engineering schools of USM represented the university.

Three students from the School of Chemical Engineering played a pivotal role in this project - Kesavan Nair, the MPP of the school, Bol Ram, and Muhammad Daniel Shahputra Bin Mohd Desa, members of the secretariat MPP. The primary objective of this program was to study the traditional “rumah panjang” (longhouses) found in Sarawak and propose suitable fire safety measures. The students identified that the probability of fire accidents is high since traditional longhouses in Sarawak are mostly made of wood. The students conducted surveys to identify safety measures and developed fire simulation models using Pathfinder software. The project also included extracurricular activities, including motivational programs for Form Six students, sports activities, cultural night, and community health screening. The students also immersed themselves in Sarawakian culture by staying in the longhouses with foster families.

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Apart from the students’ contributions, faculty members from the School of Chemical Engineering played a vital role in the success of this event. Associate Professor Dr. Mohamad Zailani Abu Bakar introduced the simulation method to the students during one of the pre-event meetings, while Professor Dr. Lee Keat Teong provided some sponsorship for the event.

The community service program benefited the traditional longhouse residents and provided valuable practical experience for the students. The School of Chemical Engineering aims to continue such initiatives to serve the community and enhance student learning, and we look forward to more such projects in the future.

Text by: Kesavan Nair

Photos by: Kesavan Nair