Arvindraj’s Enriching Journey at Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS: Where Passion Met Purpose

Published by Afterschool.my on Feb 20, 2024, 11:23 am

Arvindraj Krishnan’s interest in the oil and gas industry began during high school. He found the industry fascinating and unique, with much to learn about. The fact that ancient organic matter from millions of years ago, including plants, microorganisms and even dinosaurs, contributed to the formation of “black gold”, intrigued him.

That’s why when he was at the crossroads of his tertiary education, he did not hesitate to choose Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) and its in-demand programme, Petroleum Engineering.

Arvindraj graduated with a first-class degree in Petroleum Engineering from UTP

“I remember heading straight for the UTP booth, signing myself up for their Foundation programme when I went to the education fair. That day was point zero on the culmination of knowledge and growth I've attained in the next chapter of my life," says Arvindraj.

Studying at UTP

UTP is one of the best private universities in Malaysia, fostering an environment where students thrive academically and discover distinctive avenues for personal development. Not many universities in Malaysia offer the Petroleum Engineering programme in its curriculum, as it requires state-of-the-art facilities and experienced lecturers, both of which UTP possesses.

One of the defining factors that elevates UTP to its top-tier status is its laboratories that are equipped with cutting-edge technologies that unlock boundless opportunities for learning and development. Arvindraj recalls visiting numerous labs to conduct his intricate Final Year Project (FYP).

“I had a sophisticated FYP that required me to undertake challenging experiments to obtain a robust set of data. It involved working in a series of laboratories to gather my findings. Fortunately, UTP provided the facilities necessary to meet my requirements, and I had a supervisor who encouraged me to push my boundaries.”

Impressively, Arvindraj published his research studies in a top-quartile journal – the Journal of Natural Gas Science and Engineering. “I owe it to my supervisor, Dr Belladonna, who not only supported and guided me throughout my final year project but also enriched my knowledge of the energy industry.”

As a university known for its engineering programme, UTP instils in its students the ability to excel individually and collaborate effectively in diverse teams, applying engineering solutions to solve complex problems across disciplines. This is proven by one of its curriculums, the Engineering Team Project (ETP).

“The ETP curriculum stands out as one of the most captivating programmes at UTP, uniting engineering students from five disciplines – Civil, Chemical, Electrical and Electronics, Mechanical and Petroleum – to merge their expertise and skills in creating innovative inventions,” Arvindraj says.

Arvindraj led his team to qualify for the Science and Engineering Design Exhibition after impressing the judges with the ‘Arti-Crutch’ in the Engineering Team Project.

Extracurricular Excellence

UTP doesn’t just foster academic prowess; it nurtures holistic development through various co-curricular activities. It has sports facilities such as a football field, and artistic amenities such as musical instruments and dance studios.

When asked about campus life at UTP, he says, “The oval park is my go-to spot for evening leisure activities, especially jogging. The tranquillity of the surroundings offers a much-needed respite after a day filled with lectures. Additionally, it has a picturesque lake that offers kayaking activities.”

The abundance of clubs, events and competitions presented Arvindraj with a delightful challenge – choosing from many enticing opportunities. To ensure a focused and meaningful experience, he carefully selected only a handful to engage with each semester. “One of my most cherished experiences was participating in the annual Petrobowl, a quiz competition centred around the oil and gas industry. What makes this memory particularly special to me is its journey – I faced defeat twice before ultimately triumphing on my third attempt.” He secured a victory at the university level and clinched the internationally recognised group competition at the national level in the same year.

As UTP’s brand garners international recognition, it often receives invitations to engage in global events alongside other prestigious universities. Arvindraj decided to participate in the Schlumberger case study competition during his final semester, organised by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).

“I felt immense pride in representing UTP amidst over 70 teams across Asia, and winning the competition was truly gratifying. It served as my ultimate homage to my university before graduating.”

Arvindraj partnered with the National Cancer Council Malaysia (MAKNA) for a CSR initiative in UTP.

Path to Professional Opportunities

UTP is renowned for its awe-inspiring library, known as the Information Resource Centre by students. Housing an impressive collection of approximately 210,000 volumes, it is a beacon of knowledge on campus.

Another notable aspect for which the university is renowned is its extensive internship programme. UTP’s seven-month-long high-impact internships turn students into savvy and confident graduates ready for future workplace challenges. Additionally, students are sponsored to undertake their internships abroad – something Arvindraj can attest to.

“I received a 50% sponsorship to do my internship at a reputable research centre in Perth, Australia, but I had to make the hard decision of turning it down for my dream company, PETRONAS.”

The internship in UTP has two phases. First is an immersion into the organisation, job responsibilities and familiarisation of projects. The second phase involves high-intensity project execution. “I did my internship with PETRONAS under the Strategic Research department where I was involved in research projects like Megatrends 2040 and Hydrogen Economy.”

During his time there, Arvindraj worked closely with many senior personnel from PETRONAS and even attended a meeting in the presence of the company’s then Senior Vice President. “My internship experience with PETRONAS definitely sharpened my research and analytical skills and built my confidence in public speaking.”

The award ceremony is usually done a day before the university’s convocation date, but Arvindraj received his recognition virtually due to the lockdown.

Making Dreams a Reality

Arvindraj’s Petroleum Engineering peers were predominantly straight-A students with impressive educational backgrounds. Despite achieving straight A's in SPM, Arvindraj couldn’t secure a scholarship for his desired niche undergraduate programme.

"I promised myself that I would graduate with a first-class degree and have my PTPTN loan waived."

Five years later, that’s precisely what transpired. To add to his achievements, he was recognised as and awarded the best academic student among his Petroleum Engineering cohort for his outstanding performance. As Arvindraj reflects on his unforgettable journey at UTP, it becomes evident that the university is more than just an academic institution – it’s a realm where passion converges with purpose, shaping futures with enduring brilliance.

Having graduated in 2020, Arvindraj spent his first three years as an engineer, gaining experience in various drilling rigs and oil refineries before pursuing his career with the Fortune 500 company S&P Global. He genuinely enjoys his role as a research analyst specialising in fuels and refining.

“I am glad things turned out the way they did, as I’ve had a great life at UTP and met some wonderful people. Even now, when I tell my colleagues that I am from UTP, they regard me highly because the institution's reputation precedes itself.”

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