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One of the pleasures of being involved with the Company and with the Water Conservation Trust is the opportunity to meet the students whom the Trust supports.  Past Master Peter Hall and Court Assistant Trevor Harrington went with me to Imperial. It has recently dropped College and London from its title. We met Gurleen Gakhal and Kieran Liu, whom the Trust is supporting with a bursary, as well as Professor Sue Grimes, the Environmental Engineering MSc Course Director (pictured above).  Both students would not have been able to go to Imperial without our support.  Their biographies are attached.

We had a long discussion with both students on their backgrounds and experiences.  We discussed the current environment issues and asked what they would like to change for the future.  Answers included enforcing SuDS (sustainable urban drainage) and delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Over lunch we discussed with Professor Sue Grimes (Royal Academy of Engineering Professor of Waste & Resource Management) and Professor Stephen Smith (Professor of Bioresource Systems and Head of Section – Environmental and Water Resources Engineering) developments at the university and the courses they run.  We also talked about future collaboration and what we could do differently.  The University is now offering, alongside its long-standing MSc in Environmental Engineering programme, an MSc in Environmental Engineering with Data Science. This reflects the need for better data management especially around modelling and monitoring.

It was great to meet the students and staff and hear how we were making a difference.

Biography of Gurleen Gakhal

Gurleen Gakhal is a student at Imperial College pursuing an MSc in Environmental Engineering. She graduated from the University of Leicester with a first-class degree in Natural Sciences (Life and Physical Sciences).

At the University of Leicester (UoL) Gurleen held the position of President of the UoL OXFAM Society (2021/2022) and one of her first tasks in this role was to prepare a presentation about the upcoming COP26 conference. This required her to research into the climate crisis and she realised that the main issues with the climate crisis were that people in least developed countries (LDCs) were being affected drastically by the actions of people in developed countries. This resonated strongly with Gurleen as her home country, (Punjab, India) was being affected by flooding caused by climate change. This fuelled her desire to use her scientific knowledge gained from her degree to help develop sustainable water and energy resources/systems that would have minimal environmental impact. Moreover, Gurleen was introduced to the vitality of water treatment in LDCs because of its ability to completely transform public health, socio- economic conditions and quality of life. Whilst doing research on the ‘Water Dilemma’ for a presentation, Gurleen learned how OXFAM have aluminium sulphate granules kits to eradicate impurities from water. This encouraged her to take up a placement at Severn Trent Water, where she learned about water treatment in the UK. Gurleen was given the opportunity to visit the Titteworth Reservoir where the importance of water treatment for not only the public, but for the environment too was highlighted.

This experience encouraged Gurleen to undertake her MSc degree in environmental engineering as she wished to gain more specialised knowledge about water treatment in the UK and the potential to support LDCs with the ‘Water Dilemma’ and improve quality of life. She wishes to use the interdisciplinary nature of her undergraduate degree, combined with the knowledge from her master’s degree to help in the development of resources which can benefit the population of today with minimal environmental impacts, thus helping the UK reach one of its COP26 goals – sustainable management of water treatment.

Biography of Kieran Liu

Kieran is a student at Imperial College pursuing an MSc in Environmental Engineering. He graduated from the University of Surrey with a first-class BEng degree in Civil Engineering.

Kieran has been fascinated by the concept of sustainability for some time, with his interest first sparked when he was introduced to the subject while studying geography. From that point forward, he has been eager to pursue a career in sustainability and water.

He believes wholeheartedly that there is a responsibility on all to leave the world not only in a better state but also in a more sustainable one. This perspective has been shaped by the privilege he has enjoyed, having always had access to clean water and the security of stable resource networks. Kieran believes that engineers, amongst others, have skills to make this happen and to take responsibility to drive change.

Keiran’s particular fascination with sustainable development and water first emerged when during his A-Level, instead of choosing a topic for independent investigation based on human geography he took the step to conduct a study on sustainability of the environmental regeneration of a local watercourse. His passion in this area was further amplified when, for his BEng dissertation, he based his research on the adaptation of traditional water treatment processes for use in Tillaberi, Niger. It was an enriching experience that deepened his understanding of the field and gave him the opportunity of being able to apply his theoretical knowledge to help solve the global crisis.

During his studies at the University of Surrey, he was presented with the opportunity of working in an Infrastructure consultancy. Working within the highways and drainage team, he saw first-hand the application of SuDS schemes and the first point of the urban water cycle. This was an invaluable experience for him where he contributed to the technical submissions of such projects and was able to observe on-site the construction of such drainage strategies.

Currently as he is pursuing his MSc degree in environmental engineering, he is looking towards being able to apply the diversity of skills he has gained throughout his academic and professional career to date and build upon the foundation to establish himself in the field of environmental engineering.

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