Geography and tech key to sustainable development

Learning how to use technology and geography for sustainable development was the aim when Griffith University STEM students Martin Juncal and Jacob Breslin travelled to Thailand last month on a scholarship.

Martin Juncal and Jacob Breslin in Thailand for the Asian Summer School.

The pair attended the Asian Summer School 2019 — Geoinformatics and Sustainable Development, taking part in lectures, hands-on workshops and field trips.

Sustainability has hit the headlines as climate change has become a global concern, and there is mounting public pressure for sustainable resources such as renewable energy to become a “must-do” for all projects — personal, political and profitable.

Geoinformatics combines technology and geography to display data in a way that allows environmental professionals to make well-informed decisions about how we use, treat and manage natural resources.

Martin, a third-year Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Science student, said geoinformatics was an integral part of sustainable development and was excited for the opportunity to learn more.

Martin and Jacob with some of the other Summer School participants.

“I’m fascinated with developing the natural world in a creative, innovative and sustainable way,” Martin said.

“I want to combine engineering and science to ensure that we can continue to grow and develop our infrastructure, but to do so in a way that preserves and protects the natural environment from any further detriment.”

During their time at the Asian Summer School the men undertook a series of workshops, including one with Google Earth. However, second-year Bachelor of Science student Jacob said a trip to LomSook Smart Farm was a highlight.

The group on a field trip.

“LomSook Smart Farm was my favourite as it demonstrated to me how smart farming is being utilised by the youth of Thailand through developing a series of smart greenhouses that can be used to improve crop yield,” he said.

“In fact, I was inspired with thoughts of starting my own little social enterprise to help empower young farmers in Australia through smart farming techniques.”

Both Martin and Jacob look forward to putting their new-found knowledge and skills to use, both in their undergraduate degrees and postgraduate study.

Jacob and Martin with students from Japan’s Chubu University.

“I’d like to help bridge the gap between industry and academia to ensure that my ideas will be used in a manner that is both, economically viable for companies, but also efficient and sustainable,” Martin said.

“The use of geoinformatics in natural disaster risk prediction, detection and management was so interesting to me that it has prompted me to look at how I can contribute to this vital field through further research… so I’m now considering an Honours year or further postgraduate study,” Jacob said.

The Asian Summer School has been held by Japan’s Chubu University and Thailand’s Asian Institute of Technology since 2015 and explores topics including agriculture, energy, natural resources, health and smart cities.