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Engineering a better future for our environment

13 December 2023

Thinley Yangzom is from Pemagatshel in the eastern part of Bhutan. Growing up, Thinley said she wanted to study literature or maybe cooking but did not want to disappoint her father. Keeping this in mind, she decided to pursue electrical engineering.

She received a scholarship to study in India for four years, and she says, reflecting back, it was the best decision she could have made. When she returned home, she began working at the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) of Bhutan, where she is currently a Deputy Executive Engineer in Electrical Engineering.

As her skills grew in the company, so did her interest in the electricity sector and the energy framework. In Bhutan, the primary source of electricity is river hydropower generation. This, with long transmission and distribution lines connects households in a capital-intensive way. With the increase in global temperature, the certainty of the benefits of hydropower is now being questioned. A potential solution for this is diversification of resources, but so far, this has not gained much traction in Bhutan in the same way, for example, as rooftop solar has in Australia.

In evaluating a project, a Licensing Engineer must consider three crucial dimensions: financial, socio-economic, and environmental. Intrigued by the intricate interplay of these factors, Thinley developed a heightened interest in the pivotal role of energy in a nation’s development. Recognising the dynamic nature of the energy sector and its profound economic implications, Thinley was inspired to pursue further studies in this evolving field.

She was able to take a leave of absence from her job to travel to Australia to begin her master’s program, where she chose Crawford and the Master of Environmental and Resource Economics (MEREC). She said there were two main reasons for the decision, “Firstly, I liked the course content and structure. It had all the subjects required to do my job well. Secondly, my friends who studied gave me excellent feedback on the course here.” Starting out was a bit of a challenge, as it had been seven years since she’d been in an academic setting, but she credits the introductory courses and making excellent friends to helping make the journey more fun.

The interesting thing Thinley says is that “Learning never ends. A few year ago I thought knowing how machines and equipment work was the end to understanding electrical systems. Later on, that thought was challenged, by the idea that system market and incentive systems are rigid and are prone to failure. Lately, I am amazed by the way data can aid in good decision making.”

If you are looking to take the degree, there are a few key programs that Thinley recommends. “I would suggest all Paul Burke courses because I personally feel he has nailed the art of teaching, and course content is very good. Additionally, I would suggest that IDEC 8026 Quantitative Policy Impact Evaluation by Professor Blane tests all your econometric and economics thinking, and it is a perfect way to end your course if you are not doing a research project. EMDV 8007 Communicating for environment and policy by Dr Rebecca Colvin is a must take course because of the energy she brings in the class.”

Thinley is off to work at KPMG for a little while before heading back to Bhutan where her job at the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) is waiting for her. She also has plans to visit Perth to see some of her friends.

Congratulations on graduating, Thinley! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.

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Updated:  13 April 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team