E-TEC transforms Monash Engineering students in the tropics

Last month, 30 Engineering students from the Clayton campus, on exchange at Monash Malaysia, embarked on our first ever Engineering-Tropical Exchange Challenge (E-TEC). This new 10-day enrichment program immersed them in intercultural experiences that have changed their lives forever, personally and professionally.

Sponsored by the New Colombo Plan, Monash Abroad and Monash Engineering, E-TEC challenged the participants in a fun environment enhanced by Malaysia’s spectacular tropical climate. Each day featured activities that encouraged innovation, leadership and community engagement, extending skills beyond the classroom.

The group of 30 was divided into five teams, each led by a student volunteer from the Monash Malaysia School of Engineering. Over the 10 days, they tackled various challenging tasks, gaining points in the hope of ending up one of two prize-winning teams at the finish.

The program presented countless exciting opportunities - workshops on research methods and design thinking, an industrial trip to NS BlueScope, an international supplier of steel products, three days of building a home in a village of Orang Asli indigenous people in partnership with EPIC Homes, and creating a video blog recounting these adventures, shared on the last night at the Hilton Kuala Lumpur summit dinner.

The home-building episode, in particular, made a deep and lasting impression on the group. “The EPIC Homes team was extremely inspirational – mostly volunteers taking time away from their jobs to support those less fortunate,” said student Emily Eastman. “All components were built to the best possible standard. Despite a significant language barrier, we could still understand how much this new home meant for the family.” Another student, Monica De Rango, added, “It was incredibly rewarding and heart-warming to know that the family of five now has a safe home to live in for decades to come.”

E-TEC not only raises awareness of challenges faced by an indigenous community, but the program also develops an understanding of the engineering sector from an Indo-Pacific perspective. This, in turn, strengthens problem-solving and cross-cultural skills needed in a global industry. In short, the program contributes to a solid foundation for an exciting and successful career as an engineer.

Check out the amazing student video blogs here!