PhD student Til Baalisampang was one of just 150 young people to receive a place on the Young Gastech mentoring and networking program in Japan. 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 more than 20 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 huts 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.

Forced to flee his home country of Bhutan, Til studied at a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 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 the Australian Maritime College.

Til is one of 11 PhD students in AMC’s Environmental, Energy and Safety Engineering group. He is researching safety on board gigantic floating liquefied natural gas tankers with the objective of minimising the risk of fire and explosions.

 “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.

Til hopes the experience will boost his research and help make industry contacts.

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

“Australia welcomed me and my family members, and 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.

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