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What Could Game of Thrones and Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS Possibly Have in Common? The Answer May Just Shock You.

Published by Afterschool.my on Sep 25, 2017, 09:51 am

The new season of Game of Thrones may have just concluded, and there’s no denying the arduous wait in store till the next season arrives. Without giving too much away, the onus is clearly on defeating those pesky White Walkers, and what better way to do that than with Dragonglass? The rare matter, capable of ending the life of a marauding White Walker, seemed to be in short supply just when Jon Snow and co. needed it most. But fret not, for we have stumbled upon another place that stores it, or rather, the substance it’s derived from; Obsidian. Shockingly, and rather conveniently, it’s housed in a laboratory of all places, located within the hallowed halls of a premier institution that us Malaysians know very well -- Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP).

Kept in the university’s rather elusive Department of Geosciences, Obsidian is actually a type of volcanic rock in this, the real world, while the one found on Game of Thrones comes with an added sprinkle of magical dust. The one found here however, isn’t deprived of a magical touch of its own, as described by UTP’s Programme Manager, Abdul Halim Abdul Latif.

The rock was formed when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimal crystal growth. It is extremely rich in silica (about 65% to 80%), is low in water, and has a chemical composition similar to rhyolite (also an igneous type of rock). Obsidian has a glassy lustre and is slightly harder than window glass”.

Ask any student about geoscience, and their knowledge about the course probably wouldn’t go much further than “It’s about rocks, right?”. While Geoscience is, on the surface of it, indeed about rocks, the course covers so much more that it would be a crime not to delve further. And who better to explain what’s behind the curtain than Abdul Halim himself.&& 

Image via taskfronterra.com

Geosciences is a science stream that investigate, engage and deal with the earth. There are various branches in geosciences such as geology, geophysics and geochemistry to name a few. Geosciences is also not to be confused with earth science, as the latter is more general in nature (which also include meteorology and oceanography).

The course offered by UTP, Petroleum Geoscience, may not be the first, or even the second course that springs to mind in the heads of Malaysian students, where courses like medicine, law and engineering rule the roost. However, Abdul Halim says that the biggest appeal to prospective students are the exciting career prospects lying in wait, and numerous fields that they will have the ability to branch out into if they wish.

Image via linkedin.com

While the low oil price seems unfavourable to Petroleum Geoscience graduates, the imminent high oil price in the near future and our continuous dependency on the fossil fuels bodes well for future geoscientists. In addition, the relatively low number of geoscientists within the country and unconventional job scope (lots of travelling, onshore and offshore field trips) are the two factors that allure the prospective students into Petroleum Geoscience programme. Since every Petroleum Geoscience student in UTP is required to undergo a 7-months internship programme, the experience obtained allow them to secure the job related to the degree within 6 months after their graduation.

Students even mildly interested would now shift their focus onto what subjects they should chiefly pay attention to, and they would be forgiven for having no clue what a course like petroleum geoscience would look for. Luckily then, Abdul Halim succinctly elaborates.

In Petroleum Geoscience programme, a student will be exposed to quantitative geosciences, thus requiring strong fundamentals in mathematics and physics, followed by a thorough coverage of basic geology courses such as Physical Geology, Mineralogy and Petrology, Structural Geology, Stratigraphy and Palaeontology, and Geological Field Mapping.

Yes, we know what you’re thinking. Will you be spending days keeping one eye glued to a microscope, with a dull lab coat wrapped around yourself? The actual 4-year Bachelor’s Degree course however couldn’t be more contrasting, with the emphasis clearly placed on field-based teaching and learning (T&L) programmes rather than conventional classroom and lab-based ones.

Throughout the Petroleum Geoscience course, students will be exposed to various field trips (either to view outcrop or acquire seismic data) which is part of the programme requirements. For an outdoor student, the field work is something he or she should be looking and anticipate every semester.

Petroleum Geoscience is merely one of the numerous courses offered by Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, an institution which only recently received the distinguished honour of being the only private Malaysian university to rank on the Times Higher Education (THE) Asia Pacific University Rankings 2017. Highly regarded within academic circles around the country, UTP is open for Foundation intake (after SPM, IGCSE O Level or equivalent) and Undergraduate intake (after STPM, Matriculation, A Levels, International Baccalaureate, Diploma or equivalent), offering courses in Engineering, Technology and Applied Sciences. To receive more information about the courses, facilities, fees and other aspects, please click here.

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