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Student story

Gene Kien Chen Liew

20 July 2023

The degree involves processes from planning lab scale experiments into huge industrial manufacture...


Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Chemical and Process Engineering with a minor in Bioprocess Engineering

Process and Plant Chemist, Aica Asia Holding Pte Ltd, Nelson

"I would like to achieve the status of chartered engineer at the earliest stage, and hopefully be in executive management of a company," Gene says about his future plans after Chemical and Process Engineering studies.

Gene found it easy to decide on UC for his Engineering degree after travelling from Malaysia, and later received a UC College of Engineering Malaysia Scholarship for his results.

"Engineering at UC is very well-known in South East Asia, especially in Malaysia, and CAPE at UC has a very good reputation," he says. "Sometimes lecturers from other universities would visit and give us a lecture. I was very fortunate to have a lecturer from Cambridge University as a guest lecturer to teach us about separation technology."

By far Gene’s favourite aspect of study was the practical focus, which gave him opportunities to use new skills within team projects and see the real-world industry within field trips.

"I enjoyed visiting industrial plants. By doing so, it helped me to understand more about the processing theory and engineering science. I also enjoyed doing experiments in the lab as it opens up a potential pathway for me to becoming a lab technician or a scientist."

"I managed to visit Daiken New Zealand Ltd with my class. It was a very great experience as it allows me to gain an insight into the optimisation and control of the manufacturing process of medium density fibreboard (MDF) from pine woods."

New Zealand itself was also a factor in his decision to enrol with UC, following its reputation as a welcoming community.

"I always wanted to study abroad so I can be exposed to different environments and cultures. New Zealand was my first choice because I wanted to enjoy the unique scenery of Kiwi land and experience the Kiwi culture. And it is also because I am a hard-core fan of Lord of the Rings (LOTR) and The Hobbit," he says.

Indeed, the ‘friendly and encouraging’ lecturers and student club community were his favourite part of being at UC.

"UC has more than 100 active student clubs. Joining different clubs allows me to meet people from different countries and also allows me to get involved in variety of activities."

"I was Vice President of Canterbury Malaysian Students’ Association last year. Becoming one of the CMSA committee was one of the best experiences I’ve had. We would hold a meeting beforehand to discuss what events we would like to organise and then we worked together to achieve the goal we set."

"I also joined the Student Volunteer Army, hoping that I can contribute something in the city rebuild after the earthquake," he says.

Staying in Ilam Apartments accommodation on campus was also a great way to be amongst fellow students.

"I stayed at Ilam Apartments for three years and I was lucky to meet other Malaysian students during my first year. Since then we have become very good friends and now we are flatting outside together."

During study, Gene gained a role with GIB® working on improving their processes and quality of products.

"I helped GIB implement 5 Sigma Principles to the workplace," he says. ‘Some of my work activities involved inspecting homemade tools, conducting plant risk assessment, and producing shadowboards."

His degree was ideal preparation for the role, and Gene emphasises how much experience he gained from studying Chemical and Process Engineering to go towards his future career.

"The degree is definitely not just a chemistry degree," he says. "It involves processes from planning lab scale experiments into huge industrial manufacture. It also involves a lot of problem solving skills such as how to optimise or improve the safety of the process, which made me really enjoy it since I always see myself as a problem solver."

As such, Gene was quick to land a role after graduating with Aica Asia Pacific in New Zealand, an international manufacturing company specialising in industrial adhesive products. Gene’s role as a Process and Plant Chemist sees him take part in the multiple different fields involved in their product creation.

"In the case of engineering and production, I am entitled to monitor and improve production efficiency. I am also stepping into the water treatment area, which is a very interesting area as it was not included in the degree."

"My technical field includes monitoring product quality, managing laboratory assets, and developing products. Any OOS products are reported to me by the process technicians for further analysis and action to be taken into."

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