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Engineering the future

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MANILA, Philippines - On days that the young engineering instructors from UP Diliman are not solving complex problems involving electrometallurgy or polymers, they engage in activities that ordinary people enjoy. Metallurgical engineering instructor Marie Angelynne Fabro performed to the tune of a Maroon 5 hit at the university choir festival, while computer science teacher Kevin Buno indulges in console games, animé, and reading manga to relieve teaching-related stresses. Civil engineer Christian Orozco unwinds by traveling as it allows him to appreciate the beauty of nature.

When the 2014 school year rolls in, 13 outstanding teachers from UP College of Engineering’s eight departments will comprise the first batch of grantees of the endowment by DMCI Homes via its corporate foundation, Kaakbay. The country’s best and brightest young instructors will benefit from a teaching research grant worth P4 million to be funded over a period of five years, starting 2014.

Recognizing the crucial role of continuing education especially within a sector that has huge national and international significance, the grant program of DMCI Homes-Kaakbay actualizes what teacher-grantee Orozco says, “Engineering education and practice can be further improved by investing more on research projects and through stronger collaboration between the academe and the industry.” While pursuing full-time teaching at the UP Institute of Civil Engineering, he is also actively involved in research and extension works on water quality monitoring and modeling, road applications of cement, condition evaluation of reinforced concrete structures, assessment of environmental engineering structure, exploring sustainable construction materials, and solid waste management for construction waste.

Stakeholders must hope, or more concretely, invest on these young and talented academics who are poised to influence generations of new engineers and transform the country’s structural landscape. Electrical and electronics engineering instructor Edwin Umali will design better communication systems using various signal processing techniques. Chemical engineering teacher Jhud Mikhail Aberilla’s study is on the lifetime prediction of fiber-reinforced polymers, which can be expanded to include exploring the material as an alternative to petroleum-based plastics. Ergonomics, as it applies to the specific profile and needs of Filipino workers in the Philippines, will be the research focus of industrial engineer Benette Custodio. Buno will develop computer algorithms and theoretical computing models to help advance the research and development capabilities of the country. Fabro is interested in the corrosion tendencies of common metals in construction, which can pave the way for improving structure and fixture life spans. Mechanical Engineering instructor Jennifer Fabular’s topic is designing residential rainwater entrapment for landscaping and non-potable indoor use.

 Geodetic engineer Mark Edwin Tupas will explore crowd-sourced geographic information for the purpose of disaster risk reduction. Learning from typhoon Yolanda’s devastation, geodetic engineer Anjillyn Mae Cruz-Perez will do a suitability mapping of residential areas in Leyte using remote sensing and geographic information systems. John Carlo Garcia of the mechanical engineering department will conduct a review of ventilation systems used in hospital wards in the Philippines. Also studying ventilation systems is Hannah Erika Ducusin, a mechanical engineering instructor who will devise a system that will ensure that heat load in the kitchen will not overwhelm the room. Samiel Louie Arrojado, also a mechanical engineering teacher, will design a water heating system that utilizes conventional, solar, and waste heat sources to minimize operating costs and increase efficiencies. Rounding out the list of teaching research grantees is Karl Ezra Pilario of the chemical engineering department, whose research will simulate safety control systems, premised on the fact that many manufacturing plants are now located near residential and commercial establishments.

Orozco’s wish list reads like a paean for the country: “First, I hope that we always put quality on everything that we design and build. As engineers, we can’t afford the public to suffer from substandard works,” says the 24-year-old civil engineer. “Second, there should be a better balance between the built and natural environment.”

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