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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Dhinakaran Govindasamy, Wolfson College, 2019-2020 

Dhinakaran is a Mechanical Engineer from Malaysia. Before joining the course, he worked with a national oil and gas company for close to a decade. He managed numerous oil and gas fields in Malaysia for the first 7 years, in which he also spent 3 years based in offshore facilities. Subsequently, he went on to manage the company’s international operations. In the last few years with the company, he was extremely passionate about emission reduction and worked on 3 offshore greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction projects (hydrocarbon venting and flaring reduction) achieving a combined emission reduction of around 1 MTCO2e. The satisfaction he gained from the emission reduction projects made him realise his passion for sustainability, which then led to him joining the ESD MPhil programme. 


Dissertation title: 

Factors Influencing the Functionality of Handpump-Boreholes in Sub-Saharan Africa 


Student report: 

Why did you do the ESD MPhil? 

When I started my career, working for a national oil company was a fulfilling experience as I was able to contribute to the betterment of the country. I could see how my efforts lead to the country receiving a higher dividend, which in turn led to the improvement of the society’s quality of life. However, the growing concern on climate change and the call for climate action from the youth inspired me to do my part. As a result, within my role, I began working on greenhouse gas emission reduction projects, which led to me discovering my passion for sustainability. 


How did it help you? 

Going through the ESD course at Cambridge University was a life-changing experience. The course broadened my horizon and shifted my paradigm. Engineers tend to have a highly methodical approach when solving a problem. While this trait is beneficial, it can lead to engineers having a myopic view of the problem. This course provided me with the tools required to take a step back, understand the problem at a systems level, and propose more wholesome solutions to improve the system. In short, it taught me systems thinking. 


What are you doing now? 

I am currently the Head of Climate Change Planning for my organisation. The company realises the impact of climate change and is working towards establishing long-term solutions and strategies for the energy transition journey to a low-carbon economy. 

Using the skills and knowledge I gained from the course, I led some initiatives within the organisation. I did the groundwork and developed a roadmap for the company to perform disclosures as per the recommendations of the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). I also advocated for more conversation surrounding climate change risks and coordinated the climate change risk assessment for the company. In the area of managing the physical impacts of climate change, I led the project in conducting vulnerability assessments and developing the company's climate change adaptation plan. 


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.