Masters students enlist in WIL to fight the global waste crisis

Hari Selvaraj, Minu Cyriac and Mishadi Herath

One of the biggest perks of our masters degrees is its Work Integrated Learning (WIL) program. For academic credit, students can undertake an internship with one of many partner organisations. The program offers a chance to tackle real-world problems in a professional or research setting.

Through the WIL program, Masters students Hari Selvaraj, Minu Cyriac and Mishadi Herath have taken part in the Global Sanitation and Sustainability Project (GSSP) at the Australian Centre for Education and Training – Global (ACET – Global). In doing so, they have experienced the power of the program to shape both their outlooks and their careers.

Hari’s contribution to the GSSP, a corporate social responsibility project, strongly reflects his background in materials engineering. Most notably, he helped identify plastics suitable for reuse as sustainable products.

“Thanks to WIL, I’ve gained an understanding of the gravity of our plastic waste crisis, and discovered ways that we can reduce plastic pollution by recycling and remanufacturing,” shares Hari. “The internship has also helped me become a socially responsible engineer, and will ultimately make me a better leader. I have learned about real-life problems faced by people throughout the world, and how we can innovate sustainable solutions.”

“Thanks to WIL, I’ve gained an understanding of the gravity of our plastic waste crisis, and discovered ways that we can reduce plastic pollution by recycling and remanufacturing,”

As a civil engineer specialising in water, Mishadi devoted much of her time at ACET – Global to pinpointing key areas in Sri Lanka lacking proper sanitation – in other words, places without a system for safe disposal of human waste.

“Practical experience is very important in engineering, and this internship gave me the opportunity to do research in fields closely related to my specialisation, such as sanitation, groundwater and water purification,” says Mishadi. “By opening my eyes to the dire consequences of inadequate global sanitation, I felt motivated, as an engineer, to help enhance living standards.”

The students worked under the close supervision of Syed Shah, Managing Director and CEO of ACET – Global. “Students were provided with an advanced course in project management and lots of material on innovative design thinking and problem solving,” he explains. “Then later we had a number of discussions around employer expectations and how to get ready for work life in the future.”

The internships proved mutually beneficial. “All three students were very focused, dedicated and a pleasure to work with,” remarks Syed. “I am happy to say that we have employed one of them as an engineering advisor and she’s doing an amazing job taking our project to Sri Lanka.” No doubt Hari, Minu and Mishadi will all go far in their respective careers.