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Former refugee identified as future energy industry leader

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Til Baalisampang

In under seven years, Til Baalisampang has gone from struggling to survive in a refugee camp to being selected for a program for future leaders in the energy industry.

PhD student Til was one of just 150 young people to receive a place on the Young Gastech mentoring and networking program, held in Japan this week. He was also awarded a conference pass for Gastech, the world’s leading oil and gas event.  

The Young Gastech award and the opportunity to meet global leaders in the energy industry would be an achievement for any research student. The fact that Til spent over twenty years living in a refugee camp in Nepal makes it more remarkable.

“Until 2010 my family were forced to live in plastic or thatched roof bamboo walled hut without electricity. No doubts the life under the plastic-roofed hut was miserable, but it taught us a lesson to struggle for survival,” Til said.

Until 2010 my family were forced to live in plastic or thatched roof bamboo walled hut without electricity. No doubts the life under the plastic-roofed hut was miserable, but it taught us a lesson to struggle for survival.

Forced to flee his home country of Bhutan, Til studied at a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) school up to grade 10. He then managed to cross the border into India to complete a science degree; the only one of his eight siblings to do so.

“I am so proud of my parents and siblings for inspiring and supporting me to continue my higher education. The experience of camp schooling always inspires me to work hard even without resources or with the best possible use of limited resources.”

It shows: after Til’s family was granted asylum in Australia in 2010, he threw himself into an English course (he found the Australian accent hard to understand), a university preparation course and, just a year after arriving, he began an undergraduate degree in marine and offshore engineering at AMC.

Til is now researching safety on board gigantic floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) tankers with the objective of minimising the risk of fire and explosions.

“FLNG processing facilities will be the largest vessels ever constructed and they’ve never been observed in the real world before. Because of their complex layouts, the risks are expected to be higher than in regular processing facilities,” Til explained.

“Minimising the risk of accidents like fire and explosions on these facilities motivates me and my team to undertake this project to perform a risk assessment and management in FLNG processing facilities.”

Til is one of eleven PhD students in AMC’s Environmental, Energy and Safety Engineering group.

“I am proud of his achievement and enthusiasm to continue moving forward,” Professor Faisal Khan, Til’s PhD supervisor, said.

Co-supervisor Dr Vikram Garaniya explains that he inspires and sets an example for students and teachers alike.

“We’re so proud of Til for his Young Gastech award. He’s so dedicated and sets a real example to the other students.

“Students like him inspire and motivate us as teachers and supervisors.”

Students like him inspire and motivate us as teachers and supervisors.

“Til’s success with Young Gastech confirms the capability of our Environmental, Energy and Safety Engineering group as a world-class platform to share knowledge and expertise in this field,” adds co-supervisor Dr Rouzbeh Abbassi.

Til drew on his PhD research to inform his Gastech application, which involved a video presentation and essay on the future of the oil and gas industry. He hopes the experience will boost his research and help make industry contacts.

“Attending Gastech and Young Gastech will help me really understand current FLNG opportunities and challenges relevant to my research, as well as the latest industry innovations.”

Japan is calling for now, but in the long term Til is hoping to contribute to his adoptive country.  

“Australia is a vibrant multicultural country where people believe in fair society and everyone deserves a fair go. It welcomed me and my family members when we were in critical stage in the refugee camp and it provided us an opportunity to call it home.

“I want to give back to Australia and its society by making the best use of my experience and ability.”

I want to give back to Australia and its society by making the best use of my experience and ability.

Published on: 04 Apr 2017