Irene Lock, 2019 ADIPEC Young Technical Professional of the Year Award Winner
Irene Beats All Odds on her Journey to International Recognition
After her remarkable recovery from Leukemia, the footprint of Irene Lock Sow Mei's profound research impact and personal achievements have been nothing short of breath-taking. A PETRONAS scholar, Irene currently holds the record for being the first and only engineering graduate to have garnered all four excellence awards during her convocation: UTP's Chancellor Gold Award, Vice Chancellor Gold Award, Best Final Year Project Gold Award and Capstone Award for Best Plant Design Project.
Two years of going through intensive chemotherapy during her undergraduate study in chemical engineering at UTP, Irene's awe-evoking turnaround that sprang her career success is one of UTP's most recognisable achievements.
Despite her storied achievements being too numerous to put down in a single story, we recently sat down with the 2019 ADIPEC Young Technical Professional of the Year award winner to share her spectacular journey so far.
An engineer by training, Irene wears many hats. Irene, 29, who hails from Ipoh is a researcher, a motivational speaker and a writer. And each hat she wears carries great significance to the development of the nation's STEM and engineering ambitions.
UTP's 2015 Chancellor Award winner, Irene says, "It was really unexpected. I was the only one from Malaysia in contention for the award. I didn't expect to win the 2019 Young ADIPEC Technical Professional Young of the Year award at all."
Following a tough interview by technical and non-technical judges, Irene thought that her chances of winning the flagship award were really slim.
"I was up against finalists from Saudi Aramco and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), a major corporation in the oil & gas industry. It was the only individual award and they (the judges) evaluate you based on your projects, characters and charisma," she adds.
On the 11th of November, Irene received the award in Abu Dhabi, UAE. She says, the award is the culmination of an intense judging period, where experienced industry experts travelled thousands of miles to benchmark technical professionals' contribution.
It was an award that confers world recognition for leadership, says Irene of the international award. In relation, the judging is anchored around one's individual capacity and contribution to the world's common causes, she explains.
Speaking of the award deliberation, Irene says, "Every candidate has to be interviewed by 30 industry CEOs." Having won countless awards before, Irene says that it was really daunting to make a compelling case for what she is currently promulgating when she takes into account the capacity of the other candidates shortlisted.
Apart from her research, where she has exhibited a strong drive to solve real engineering problems such as pipeline plugging issues, Irene is also a journalist who promotes green initiatives.
In addition to her day-to-day capacity, the adjunct lecturer who teaches at a number of national and international universities strives after advancing the importance of STEM education for youth.
Last but not least, she says, "I'm very thankful for everything that UTP and PETRONAS have given me." After life has given her a second chance, the water technologist aspires to leave an indelible influence as an engineer and a writer in various science fields.
Indeed, Irene is another prime example of UTP's profound career connected learning and industry collaboration. From the work we do, we foster long-term relationships with our global social-impact partners to prepare our students, people and researchers as global citizens.
As a leading university in engineering, science and technology, our graduates are driven to exceed their professional objectives and contribute towards overcoming capability deficit across all sectors and industries.