The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


BSCPM student wins funding to explore the developing infrastructure of Indonesia's Papua region

19 April 2018

Nicholas Omar is in his third year of BSc Project Management for Construction and in 2017 successfully applied for the Herbert Henry Bartlett Travel Scholarship.


BSCPM undergraduate student Nicholas Omar, now in his final year of the School's BSc programme, received faculty funding to undertake independent study abroad in the summer of 2017. We caught up with Nicholas, from Jakarta, to hear about his experience visiting the Papua region of Indonesia to learn about the region's development goals.

Why did you apply for the Herbert Henry Bartlett Travel Scholarship?

I have always had an interest in travelling to Papua, Indonesia, not only because of its natural beauty, but also because little has been known about most of Indonesia’s eastern side. Regional development is far behind compared to other parts of the country and I have always wondered why this is the case. At the time, I came across articles about a major infrastructure project the government was pushing titled Trans Papua, which involves the construction of 4,300 km of roads. I was quite surprised by this project as firstly, this was the first I time I heard the region is undertaking a major development. Secondly, this is a region with limited or no access at all and from one city to another, air travel being the only form of transport. 

When I heard about the scholarship, my interest was raised again and I thought to myself this would be a perfect opportunity to travel to Papua. Not only it would give me a reason to travel there but I would also be supported by my school to investigate the sustainable development of the Trans Papua project.

What did you do with the funding?

I used the funding to buy a return ticket from the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, to the capital of the region, Jayapura. 

How did you find the application process?

The application process is pretty straightforward. I wrote a proposal stating my aim, objectives, rationale, itinerary and my plan on how I would conduct my investigation. I also outlined the estimation of costs for the trip with the breakdown of the expenditure. These included plane tickets, accommodation, travel cost and food cost. After that, it took around two months for the Faculty to announce the recipients and soon after I received the funds.

What are the most memorable moments from your summer experience?

Every moment there is memorable for me but if I were to choose one in particular, it would be meeting the locals and exploring the beautiful region. The people there are very kind. Despite being an outsider, they welcomed me as if I was their own. The government officials were very supportive of my research and they gave me access to a lot of resources. I am very grateful for the contacts I have made and for those who have accommodated and assisted me in my project such as Juliana Anakotta Sarioa (Anette), Jennifer Omar, and the Watory family who have assisted me in arranging my travels and accommodation.

Furthermore, visiting another Indonesian region other than my own, Jakarta, opened up my horizon. Experiencing first-hand the level of disparity between central Java with Papua, I realised the need for a more equal development across the nation. I was very surprised when one of the government officials told me that I was the first student who looked into the region’s development. Taking this into consideration, I am very grateful for the experience and hope that in the future I can contribute to the equal development of the country.

Any tips for students that might be interested in applying for the scholarship?

Have a realistic scope in your proposal, stating your rationale and how it will benefit you in your personal development. Most importantly, do something that you are actually interested in and passionate about as this is a great opportunity for you to explore your interests. 

How are you finding the BSc Construction and Project Management programme?

Throughout my three years of being enrolled on the course, I consider it very relevant to my interests. I am not saying this out of pressure, but given the multidisciplinary nature of the course, you are given the opportunity to explore different fields within the built environment. For example, for my dissertation, I am writing about the role of the Indonesian government in facilitating public-private partnerships (PPP) projects. This does not necessarily focus in project management, however, I have learnt a lot about policy research and infrastructure development which ties to project management and the built environment as a whole. 

How do you think studying at the School has helped your personal development so far?

After being with CPM for three years, I would say the exposure to new ideas and opportunities is what contributed the most to my personal development. From learning innovative approaches to project management to developing a project, I felt I have gained a fresh view over potential opportunities for the future. Learning from various fields in the built environment also helped me to narrow down my interest in regard to my future career.

Bartlett Faculty travel awards and scholarships are available to support Bartlett undergraduate students in undertaking independent research in another country. A limited number of awards are offered each year to students from across the Faculty, giving them the opportunity to independently experience and study a place which would otherwise be harder to reach under different circumstances.

The deadline to apply for 2017-2018's Bartlett Travel Awards is Friday 11 May 2018.

Learn more about funding available for Bartlett students.