FEGT won Best Paper Awards at iSMART 2023

Faculty of Engineering and Green Technology (FEGT) senior lecturer Ar Tan Seong Yeow and Year Four Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Environmental) with Honours student Brandon Leong Xeyn Hin were awarded the Best Paper Award at the 5th International Conference of iSMART 2023 (iSMART 2023), which was held from 8 to 12 December 2023 at the University of Kitakyushu Hibikino Campus, Japan.

Ar Tan walked away with a Best Paper Award for his research titled “A Sustainability Framework for Assessing Urban Heritage”. The research was co-authored by FEGT academic Dr Olanrewaju Abdullateef Ashola and Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering Science (LKC FES) academic and Director of UTAR Office of International Affairs Assoc Prof Dr Lai Soon Onn.

On the other hand, Brandon Leong walked away with a Best Paper Award for his research titled “Black Soldier Fly’s Role in Circular Economy through Organic Waster Recovery”. The research was also co-authored and supervised by FEGT academic Prof Dr Mohammed J. K. Bashir.

Ar Tan presenting his research

Titled “A Sustainability Framework for Assessing Urban Heritage”, the research conducted by Ar Tan addresses the problem faced by heritage conservation for sustainability. The research aims to develop the urban heritage assessment framework to measure heritage sustainability as perceived by the stakeholders.

Ar Tan explained, “The objectives are to determine the weightage to be assigned for the heritage values and criteria according to stakeholders’ perception. This is achieved by utilising the Best-Worst-Method (BWM), a multi-criteria expert-based importance weightage tool. The valorization of heritage helps to determine heritage policies and investments to sustainably use heritage as a social resource to enrich an authentic place-making and livable urban environment.”

He added, “The findings of the research indicate the following weight priorities for Sustainable Heritage Values (HSV); Continuity of Heritage, Liveability, Heritage Led Regeneration, Intergeneration Equity, and Durability and Human Rights basis and how they impact conservation decisions in UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Georgetown and Melaka.”

Ar Tan’s research is also related to Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities. The conservation of the built environment according to the priorities of heritage values would enable policies to be crafted for sustainability so that buildings can be used for a long life cycle, and remain desirable and functional according to their adaptability and relevance to modern society context. Hence the creation of an assessment framework means that societal feedback can be collated to identify heritage loss or fortification trends.

He said, “I was very honoured to be selected for the Best Paper Award as the paper was produced under a very short time frame and the data collection and data analysis were quite recent, so it was a pleasant coincidence and opportunity to publish my research. This research was part of my UTAR research into heritage sustainability assessments of urban-built heritage. Dr Olanrewaju and Dr Lai Soon Onn were great colleagues who gave me guidance in this area of heritage as my interest was in building conversation which I applied in my consultancy works.”

Brandon Leong explaining his research

Meanwhile, Brandon Leong’s project addresses the potential resources that could be recovered from organic waste by using black soldier fly’s technology, establishing a circular economy framework. Titled, “Black Soldier Fly’s Role in Circular Economy through Organic Waste Recovery”, the research emphasises a circular economy where the waste in one process is recovered and utilised as a resource for another. The waste, which is high in organic content, is recovered through valorization and processed to become animal feeds, biodiesel and organic fertiliser.

Brandon Leong explained, “I find this project title interesting. It would be beneficial for societies. By emphasising the usage, it could enhance people’s awareness about it. This project is able to reduce organic waste such as palm oil decanter cake and produce biomass as animal feed and organic fertiliser for plant cultivation. The project helps poultry producers to reduce reliance on conventional feedstock and farmers to reduce the usage of chemical fertilisers, lessening greenhouse gas emissions.”

He added, “I find my greatest reward lies not in any accolade or recognition, but in the invaluable journey of preparing my paper. Despite the time constraints, I was able to produce my best work by managing every aspect of the process myself. From brainstorming ideas to collaborating with my supervisor and seeking assistance from project companies for data collection, I learned that with determination and perseverance, anything is achievable.”

Brandon Leong thanked UTAR and further added, “The course structure at UTAR has been instrumental in helping us become quick learners and adaptable individuals. With a firm grounding in managing multiple tasks simultaneously, we have been able to complete our assignments on time. The exchange programme has played a crucial role in bringing out the best in us, and we are more than grateful for the opportunity.”

He further elaborated and associated his research with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He said, “Black soldier fly larvae are a rich source of protein, making them valuable as a feed supplement for livestock. This contributes to addressing the challenge of providing sufficient, nutritious food for a growing global population. Additionally, traditional livestock feed production often involves resource-intensive processes and may contribute to deforestation. Using black soldier fly larvae as an alternative feed source aligns with the goal of promoting sustainable consumption and production practices, and reducing the environmental footprint associated with agriculture. Black soldier fly larvae aid in organic waste management. By consuming biodegradable waste, they contribute to reducing pollution and promoting the sustainable use of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. This aligns with goals aimed at preserving biodiversity and ecosystems on land and in water. The larvae’s role in organic waste decomposition is crucial for mitigating the release of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, from decaying organic matter. Incorporating black soldier flies into waste management practices supports climate action efforts by reducing methane emissions and promoting more sustainable waste treatment.”

Jointly organised by the International Academic Union of Oceanic Architecture (IAUOA), Japanese Affairs Department of China Green Building Council, Qingdao University of Technology and The University of Kitakyushu, the International Conference on Sustainable Development and Smart Technologies aimed to bring together researchers, experts, professionals, and policymakers from around the world to explore the intersection of sustainable development and smart technologies in the context of Coastal/Maritime architecture and related fields.

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