PUTRAJAYA, 25th November – Our final year mechanical engineering student Shahriman bin Shahrul Zaman has won second place for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ (IMechE) Speak Out for Engineering (SofE) National Finals at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia. Among the competitors on the day hail from Taylor’s University, Monash University, University of Southampton Malaysia, the host university (Heriot-Watt University) and many more.
Speaking about nuclear energy for the competition, the NADi UNITEN team has interviewed Shahriman to tell us more about his experience and details on the topic.
NADi : Congratulations on your winning of this competition Shahriman, tell us more about your experience on the competition itself?
Shahriman : It was a bit stressful, I only had 45 minutes of sleep, but at the same time I had fun, especially I had some alone time by exploring the beautiful Heriot-Watt University, which gave me some peaceful time and more preparation for the competition. After I finished my speech, I actually connected with one of the former SofE champions from Nottingham (University Malaysia Campus), which has Toastmasters background. In fact, all the judges and most of the participants had Toastmasters background. I was actually quite scared at first because I’ve got to know that there is a Ph.D student signed up for the competition, but he didn’t turn up for the competition in the end.
NADi : Yeah I do understand how you felt as the knowledge level is totally different to that of degree level
Shahriman : Yeah but at the same time you don’t have to be too worried because no matter how knowledgeable you are, it all depends on your presentation techniques to go through the competition. So here I am, barely having any experience with Toastmasters but that’s it, I still carry on competing with the others. Luckily I was the sixth speaker for the competition, so I had the chance to witness how my competitors prior to my turn present their speeches. The judges were really phenomenal, they gave critical feedback on my technique and technical subject.
NADi : OK, so now we’ll get into the gist of this interview, which is your topic. So do you mind sharing more on the topic you have discussed during the competition?
Shahriman : I talked about nuclear energy, but my title was more towards the energy enigma, which revolved around my head for no reason.
NADi : Oh kay, we’ll like to hear more about that.
Shahriman : I’m keep this as short as possible, so based on our Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), there’s an increasing trend of energy that we’re gonna use. Based on the current trend and energy resources, we will not have sufficient energy to satisfy the needs of all Malaysian citizens by 2030. So in a way, we need to have an alternative source of energy, or an energy mix as our country is too dependent on coal and petroleum. Too much dependencies on the two resources will result in our economy being too dependent on such resources as well. So we need to seek and alternative energy resource and my solution was (by introducing) nuclear (energy). However…
NADi : However?
Shahriman : The general public still view nuclear energy as something detrimental or really harmful due to the negative effects they read elsewhere (accidents and its aftermath, nuclear weapons, dangers to society etc.). Basically in my speech, I had proposed an alternative solution to uranium, which is commonly used in nuclear reactors. The solution will be the usage of thorium. Which sounds like a Marvel hero to be honest.
NADi : (laughes while thinking for a moment) Yeah I do think so as well. Like THE Thunder Hero right?
Shahriman : Yeah yeah, so bascially Thorium is three times more abundant than uranium and thorium is able to generate more energy than uranium as one ton of Thorium is equivalent to one thousand ton of Uranium. But most importantly, you can’t make nuclear weapons out of Thorium.
NADi : Wait you can’t? Really?
Shahriman : Yeah you can’t
NADi : Okay, that’s interesting
Shahriman : Yeah ’cause when it experience nuclear fission, it does not create plutonium, which is a necessary element to create weapons.
NADi : Ah I see
Shahriman : And besides, I’ve read on a NASA scientist, which he found old files on various nuclear reactors and finally came up with a solution to build nuclear reactors in line with the usage of Thorium.
NADi : Well that is a bit too technical on my side (laughes)
Shahriman : (laughes as well) yeah but my point of this speech is that nuclear energy is actually safe, just the matter of which aspect you are talking about, same goes to a car, you can’t just say all cars are unsafe just because of an accident, it’s a matter of which car is safer due to its specifications.
NADi : Why definitely
Shahriman : So to keep things short, it is an overview of nuclear energy, and that covers both pros and cons my friend.
NADi : Interesting. I really do hope that more and more people will be reading and hearing your presentation just so in order to see two sides of the coin and evaluate themselves rather than just jump to conclusions with just one perspective. I believe more and more people would be interested to join SofE, so do you have any tips of advices to any prospective participants out there?
Shahriman : Basically your content has to be interesting and attracts the crowd but at the same time you have to venture into something different and never-before-seen. I would like people to present something relatively new and mind-boggling. Most importantly, you need tons of practice. Do practice it with your closest friends and family members. The easiest way to gain the audience’s attention is to tackle on issues which are close to their hearts.
NADi : Nice. Do you have anything to add before we end this conversation?
Shahriman : Basically, I want more and more engineering students to not only focus on their studies, which is very important, but at least try something different in their lives, like pursue your passion, so you’ll have a more opened mind in viewing things.
NADi : Alright thank you for your time Shahriman, we hope for the best for your future endeavours
Shahriman : Alright thank you.
Congratulations Shahriman Shahrul and we hope for the best on your future undertakings!
Written by : Gan Zhi Han