Empowering young Filipinos to build a sustainable future

As their call of duty, operations engineers of the Malampaya Onshore Gas Plant are expected to maintain continuous gas supply to address the power needs of the country’s main island of Luzon. But Shell engineers Peter Doping and Niño Navarro recently showed what public service is all about by going beyond their mandate to mentor young Filipinos on how to help secure a sustainable and inclusive energy future for the Philippines.

Recognizing their efforts, Shell Global recently named Doping and Navarro as two of 2020’s Inspiring NXplorers Mentors for guiding six high school students from Gusa Regional Science High School in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental in their bid to win at Shell NXplorers Program’s Bright Ideas Challenge. The challenge tasked young people to come up with real-life, innovative and sustainable solutions to the food, water and energy issues in their local areas. 

Out of 25 teams that participated, the student team from Gusa – which Doping and Navarro mentored – bagged the first place for creating a handheld generator that produces energy by utilizing heat difference through the Seebeck effect or the build-up of an electric potential across a temperature gradient. Their objective was to come up with an alternative power source for Mindanaoans during unforeseen events like calamities and disasters.

Future-proofing the nation

“What drove us to volunteer to mentor the team from Gusa was their objective. Their project came at a time when a string of powerful earthquakes shook Mindanao, putting the safety of thousands of residents at risk (Nadasig mi sa among pagboluntaryo nga mag-tudlo sa maong grupo gikan sa Gusa kay tungud sa ilang katuyoan. Ang maong proyekto naabot kadungan sa mga kusog nga linog sa Mindanao nga nagbutang sa risgo sa kinabuhi sa daghang residente),” said Navarro, who has been with Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) for about 13 years. 

For Doping, it was his pride and love for his hometown. “When we saw the list of the teams, we saw that one of them is from Mindanao. It is very close to our heart because I am from Davao City and Niño is from Cagayan de Oro. Their power generation project also came at the right time because of the series of earthquakes that hit Mindanao, especially Davao (Pagkakita namo sa listahan sa mga grupo, kabantay mi nga isa ka grupo kay gikan sa Mindanao. Duul gyud kaayu na sa among kasing-kasing kay ako taga Davao City man ko ug si Niño taga Cagayan de Oro. Ang ilang proyekto sakto kaayu ang pag-abot sa oras nga kinahanglan gyud kay na-igo sa linog ang Mindanao, labi na gyud sa Davao).” 

Back in December 2019, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit towns in the region’s largest city, Davao. During that year alone, Mindanao was hit by five powerful earthquakes, leaving  families trapped inside their homes, toppling power and communication lines, and damaging several buildings.

While timing and distance were an issue in mentoring the students from Gusa, the two Malampaya engineers used their rest days to guide them in their power generation project. With a 12-hour work shift, Navarro and Doping would meet the team via video conferencing during weekends and spend their rest days to mentor and send updates on the status of their project.

“What I always told the student was to keep in mind that they are not doing the project just for the sake of the competition but to help our communities in Mindanao and provide them with alternative power sources in times when they need it the most (Dili tungud lang sa kompetisyon ang maong rason sa pagbuhat sa proyekto kundi  ang pagtabang pud sa atung mga komunidad sa Mindanao ug paghatag ug alternatibo nga gigikanan sa kuryente sa mga panahon nga kinahanglan gyud nila, mao na ang akong kanunay nga pahinumdom sa estudyante), ” Navarro said.

For Doping, it is important to pay it forward. “I am lucky because I am being supervised by leaders who mentor me and at the same time, show a mutual respect for each discipline. With the right guidance, we are working at Shell like a well-oiled machine. And I think it is important to pass that on because by mentoring the youth and sharing some industry perspective, the youth will be better equipped as positive agents of change (Swerte gyud ko kay naa’y mga lider nga magdumala ug magtabang nako nga gapakita ug respeto sa kada disiplina. Sa saktong paggiya, ang among pagtrabaho sa Shell murag makina nga sakto ang pagkakondisyon. Ug para nako, importante nga ipasa kini sa mga kabatan-unan ug ang paghatag ug lain-lain nga panan-aw sa industriya para sila mahimong mas andam nga muhatag ug positibo nga kabaghuan).”

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