MFET award showcases nominees’ abilities in science and technology

Held last December 3 via Zoom and Facebook Live, the National Science and Technology (NAST) Virtual Paper Presentation and Awarding Ceremony of the 2021 Magsaysay Future Engineers and Technologists (MFET) Award accentuated the achievements of seven nominees from various universities. Among these universities were De La Salle University (DLSU), Mapua University (MU), University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), and University of Santo Tomas (UST).

A passion for science

Dr. Charlle L. Sy, who was granted the title of “Outstanding Young Scientist” for 2021, was the moderator for the entire webinar. She kicked things off by introducing Academician (Acd.) Rhodora V. Azanza, the president of NAST PHL.

The subsequent segment involved an inspirational message from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Sec. Fortunato T. De La Peña. “The competition is intended to recognize outstanding research outputs on engineering and technology at the collegiate level, to encourage young Filipino students to pursue a career in science,” De La Peña shared. 

He elaborated that the MFET is in line with DOST’s policy to promote a science and technology culture “especially among the youth.” 

Go for the gold

The presentation of the award mechanics and the introduction of the board of judges was led by Acd. Angel L. Lazaro III, who congratulated the nominees before presenting the rubrics of the competition. Lazaro added that the final judging for the award involved two components, each worth 50 percent. These were an interview or open forum and an analysis of the quality of research and presentation. While plaques and cash were only awarded to the winners, all seven nominees were also given awards.

A friendly competition

Chester Kenneth Andra of MU proposed the increased performance of mixed-matrix cellulose acetate (CA) membranes. He discovered that an optimal membrane was effective in separating different types of oils and organics in wastewaters. He also determined that nanoparticles in a chemical form comprising polydopamine (sulfobetaine methacrylate) [P(DA-SBMA)] were synthesized when the ratio of SBMA to DA was 0.8. Inserting these in the CA matrix was conducive to fabricating a modified membrane, which has high water flux, flux recovery, reversible fouling, and greater separation efficiency. 

Next, former Green Booter Darius Joseph Diamante (CIV-TRE, ‘21) unveiled his presentation titled Analyzing the Black Nazarene Procession in Manila City. He aimed to optimize the push formation, or the arrangement in which individuals are organized. This would reduce the stagnant time of the andas and improve safety. Additionally, the utilization of unique variables such as parade length and variation of pedestrian densities allows for a deeper understanding of the event dynamics, enabling planners to identify critical spots, allocate personnel, and develop other policies to make the event safer.

Anne Gille Balmadrid from UPLB carried on with her prediction of paddy rice seed quality parameters using visible and near-infrared (VIS-NIR) spectroscopy. Balmadrid utilized effective wavelength selection to determine their respective associations with the rice composition. She employed multiple linear regression to break the vigor, germination rate, and seed class of rice seeds.

She was also able to find out that, along with other techniques, VIS-NIRS can non-destructively measure the paddy seed quality, and can thus substitute the standard germination and vigor tests. 

Moment of truth

After the presentations came the question-and-answer portion. The nominees were asked to foresee a high-priority issue facing the nation and were asked to describe how they have prepared themselves to be future leaders.

Four nominees, among whom were Howell Jay Sigua, Jerome Ignatius Garces (BSMSChE, ‘21), John Francis Chan, and K Anthea Rana (V, ChE), received a special citation, a certificate, and P10,000 each. Andra ranked third place and was awarded P30,000, while Diamante and Balmadrid were hailed as the first prize winners.

“You are both co-winners,” Lazaro said as he announced that the P50,000 and P100,000 prizes for the victors will be split between the both of them, and the certificates will be reflective.

Jericho Zulueta

By Jericho Zulueta

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