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Engineering faculty leaders represent Ohio University in delegation to Malaysia

Marissa McDaid | Jan 22, 2019
Photos: Ohio University / Ben Siegel

Engineering faculty leaders represent Ohio University in delegation to Malaysia

Marissa McDaid | Jan 22, 2019

Photos: Ohio University / Ben Siegel

Ohio University’s presidential delegation to Malaysia in December included two Russ College of Engineering and Technology faculty leaders who were called upon to shared their research expertise.

Department of Civil Engineering Chair Guy Riefler; and Russ Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Srdjan Nesic, who is also director of the Institute for Corrosion and Multiphase Technology (ICMT); joined President Duane Nellis and more than a dozen other OHIO faculty and staff members for the trip last month. They spent the bulk of their time in Malaysia, with select faculty making short visits to other countries including Japan and Hong Kong.

One of the primary purposes of the trip was for the 10th Distinguished Tun Abdul Razak Lecture in Kuala Lumpur. The decade-old lecture celebrates the ongoing partnership between OHIO and Malaysia as part of the Tun Abdul Razak Chair Programme, which brings a Malaysian scholar to OHIO to research and teach for a two-year term.

More than 1,000 people attended the 2018 lecture, “Synergy of Curiosity: From Acid to Art,” highlighting Riefler’s collaboration with School of Fine Arts Drawing and Painting Chair John Sabraw to mitigate the effects of acid mine drainage (AMD) in southeast Ohio. Riefler and Sabraw have partnered over the last nine years to develop a sustainable way of cleaning area streams and rivers by pulling pigments from polluted water that can be made into artist-grade paints.

During the days leading up to the lecture, Riefler assisted Sabraw with two art workshops at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and Taylor’s University featuring paint mixed from the AMD-produced pigments. Before students sprang to action creating their art, Riefler used a jar of synthetic AMD to demonstrate how iron is precipitated from contaminated water. The iron oxyhydroxide that settled in the jar was dehydrated and then mixed, by Sabraw, into paint. Students created artwork reflective of their aspirations or concerns for the remainder of the workshop.

While in Malaysia, Riefler also met with engineering faculty at UiTM and Taylor’s University to familiarize himself with their civil engineering programs, in addition to touring a restored wetland in Kuala Lumpur.

“I was very impressed with the amount of construction and development in the city,” Riefler said, noting the wetland which was designed to treat storm water was effective and similar to ones he has seen in the United States.

Before returning to the United States, Riefler stopped in Japan, where he was also able to meet with engineering faculty and foster relationships at Chubu University — which OHIO has partnered with since 1973.

Nesic, who has traveled to Malaysia twice previously for ICMT business, said the December delegation was special because it was his first time representing OHIO with President Nellis, along with College of Business Dean Hugh Sherman and Vice President for University Advancement Nico Karagosian.

Nesic arranged a meeting between the delegation and OHIO alumnus Datuk Ahmad Nizam Salleh, BBA ‘79, who is chairman of the board of directors of Petronas, Malaysia’s national oil company. A sponsor of the ICMT, Petronas has partnered with OHIO researchers for the last decade.

Malaysia’s major reserves of natural gas can contain potentially corrosive concentrations of carbon dioxide – precisely why the ICMT is a valued resource for the country. Nesic presented to more than 100 Petronas engineers about the effects of hydrogen sulfide gas on oil pipelines; by learning to control and predict corrosion, the company can prevent costly and dangerous spills and explosions.

The ICMT has also supported students from Malaysia. Three students have performed research at the ICMT in the past as part of their MS and PhD programs at OHIO.

“Relationships like this will eventually reward you,” said Nesic, regarding the importance of maintaining international ties. “Someone may approach us to do a project in the future, and it’s likely because they saw our presentation somewhere or remembered what we said at a joint meeting in the past.”