A sizeable group of high school students from across the nation visited the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) when experts representing both academe and industry pitched the advantages of pursuing a career in Chemistry at the week-long fair, Kapnayan 2019. Kapnayan is a triennial event organized by the UPLB Chemical Society (ChemSoc), that aims to spread awareness about chemistry and its allied sciences through activities based on the year’s theme, and to inspire future scientists to be catalysts for change through the study of Chemistry.
This year’s Kapnayan had the theme, “Sustainable Development Through Advancement in Green Chemistry and Renewable Energy Technology”. Opening ceremonies were held on January 14, 2019 at UPLB’s NCAS Auditorium. In line with this year’s theme and the global call for more sustainable approaches to national development, the UPLB ChemSoc invited three speakers from government and the private sector to talk about current opportunities in pursuing the areas stated in the theme, as well as their importance to the country’s national development.
First to speak was National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Calabarzon Regional Director Luis Banua. In his message to the students, Banua grounded the importance of studying green chemistry and renewable energy in “Ambisyon Natin 2040”, the long-term economic and social vision of the Philippines, which was signed into existence by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. In this vision, Banua said that the government envisions the development of a resilient society and a competitive economy, both of which will be made possible by advancing science and technology and innovation.
Banua mentioned what he thought were the two key strategies to bring this vision about: 1) putting the proper infrastructure–minds, institutions and certifications–in place for green chemistry and sustainable energy to be productive; and, 2) being informed of the need to pursue sustainable energy solutions in a country reliant on cheaper energy sources like coal for development.
In addition to implementing policy mechanisms in laws like the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, Banua said that these plans will hinge on the development of quality scientists and research, which he hoped the secondary school students who attended the fair would consider pursuing. Highlighting these in Kapnayan, he added, “is a way to make known the vast opportunities we have towards researches and studies that are supported by local and international development forecasts.”Moreover, he said that with more than 60% of Luzon’s energy coming from Calabarzon, students in the region can play a major role in securing the country’s future through the pursuit of sustainable energy solutions.
Opportunities were also the focus of talks of two invited speakers and Chemistry graduates from Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS) Philippines. Using SGS as an example, SGS Philippines Managing Director Ariel Pineda and Laboratory Operations Manager Meden Peneyra talked about industry opportunities for students who choose to focus on sustainable energy and green chemistry.
SGS, according to Miranda, is the “largest inspection, verification, testing and certification company globally”. By working for a company like SGS, he continued, trained chemists can be a part of a company that serves as an independent third-party tester and certifier that creates trust in business by vetting organizations and products through benchmarks like ISO standards.
Peneyra, on the other hand, detailed the specific tests and techniques that the multi-laboratory at SGS uses to verify the safety and quality of the products it inspects. From garments to food products and cosmetics, Peneyra gave a rundown of how applications of chemistry can ensure quality and safety at every stage of the consumption chain.
According to UPLB Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Portia Lapitan, who gave the opening remarks, exposing the nation’s students to opportunities in pursuing sustainable energy and green chemistry is important not only to inspire them but also to highlight “how much we continue to consume and how much our environment continues to suffer because of it”.
“Thus it is our hope,” she said, “that apart from enjoying the activities lined up in this year’s Kapnayan, you (the students) will also be inspired to take part in sound and sustainable solutions that can help in the promotion of responsible production and consumption, as well as develop innovative technologies that help reduce our waste and create more efficient and cleaner energy sources.”
These opening talks were immediately followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Kapnayan exhibits at UPLB’s Physical Sciences Annex Lobby. Kapnayan 2019 also featured activities like poster making and essay writing contests, career orientation seminars, nature and educational trips and the National Chemistry Quiz contests for its participants.