On Wednesday morning, about a dozen post-graduate students from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, gathered at the Black & Veatch booth to meet with Dr James Barnard.
Known by many names (among which the ‘Father of BNR’ and ’Laureate of 2011 Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize’ are among the most commonly used), Dr Barnard is not only a leader in his field but also an inspiration to many aspiring engineers in the water industry. As he said in his interview later that morning, winning the prize hasn’t done as much for his career as it has presented more opportunities for him to share about his work and, in the process, bring to light the ongoing challenges the industry faces and the need for more solutions.
The session began with the screening of Dr Barnard’s Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2011 video, after which Dr Barnard took the stage with a short introduction to his work. This was quickly followed by an interactive Q&A session with the students, who were keen to find out more about how the BNR process works and seek advice on taking their own research further by hearing from the leader himself.
It was a productive morning, both for the students who, I’m sure, went away enriched from the dialogue, and Dr Barnard who, through another session indirectly inspired by his award, encouraged more to take on the task of finding new solutions for an ever changing industry.
This is the value a platform like the Singapore International Water Week brings. Without the SIWW, students in Singapore could never have the chance to meet global leaders like Dr Barnard and many others who attended the event. The converse is true. Without such a platform, there are fewer opportunities for industry leaders to make a difference and directly influence young professionals at the other end of the world.