Selangor, Malaysia – Engr. Philip Donald C. Sanchez, a SEARCA scholar who just finished his MS in Agricultural Process Engineering at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) was awarded Best Oral Presenter during the Malaysian Society of Agricultural and Food Engineers (MSAE) Webinar-Conference 2020. The conference theme was “Makanan Kita, Masa Depan Kita” translated as “Our Food, Our Future” organized by the MSAE/Malaysian Ministry of Agriculture, UPM, and MARDI on 28-29 June 2020. Engr. Sanchez during his presentation at the MSAE Webinar Conference 2020 where he was awarded as Best Oral Presenter. Engr. Sanchez presented his research on the “Potential application of laser-based imaging technology in the quality evaluation of agricultural products: a review” via web streaming due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He discussed laser-based imaging technology as a non-invasive and non-destructive tool to conduct quality monitoring of agricultural products. His presentation included the successful implementation of the technique during postharvest, its components, current use, considerations, advantages and disadvantages, measurement methods, and data analysis. Besides being awarded Best Oral Presenter during the MSAE Webinar Conference 2020, Engr. Sanchez was also a Silver Medal Awardee for Poster Presentation during the Innovation Technology Expo 2019 (INTEX 2019), at Universiti Malaysia Sarawak on 24-25 July 2019. He also participated in the 12th FRUTIC Conference in Hong Kong, China and the FANSSEA Forum 2019 at SEARCA, Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines through his scholarship. According to Engr. Sanchez, the conference and travel grants afforded to SEARCA scholars help them grow professionally and academically. Engr. Sanchez presented his study in different international conferences and fora through his SEARCA scholarship grant. It was Engr. Sanchez’ dream to study abroad which came to fruition through a UPM-SEARCA Joint Scholarship granted to him in 2018. This year, UPM conferred his MS degree and as he ends his journey as a SEARCA scholar, Engr. Sanchez sees this whole experience as what made him more independent and responsible given that he had to be away from his family, make new friends in another country, and generally move out of his comfort zone. It also widened his capabilities as a graduate student, professional engineer, and as an educator. The almost two years he spent abroad was indeed a very challenging journey but at the same time it was a rewarding opportunity for him. Never in his wildest dreams did he think he could pursue graduate studies abroad and study in one of Asia’s renowned universities. UPM taught him more than what he expected to learn. He has made wonderful friends, met supportive and dedicated professors who helped him manage and balance his time in his studies and social life. Through the scholarship grant, he also learned how to better manage his finances and accomplish his research project or thesis on time according to the allocated budget. His academic and professional network also widened during his time in UPM. He learned to adapt to different cultures and traditions which led to a wider perspective in life. Some of Engr. Sanchez’ activities in his graduate studies include field visits at the Oil Palm Milling Plant in Johor Bahru, research writing, and laboratory experiments at the Food and Process Engineering Laboratory of UPM. The SEARCA scholarship program also opened a lot of opportunities beyond the classroom walls for Engr. Sanchez to experience several countries and its rich, diverse culture. Besides attending conferences, he also explored the wonders of the different federal states of Malaysia, visited its neighbor Singapore, and even went to other ASEAN countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, and Thailand during his free time such as weekends and semestral breaks. Engr. Sanchez was able to explore Southeast Asia during weekends and semesteral breaks such as Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, Langkawi Island and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Siem Reap in Cambodia, and Hat Yai City in Thailand. As he finished his master’s degree earlier than the standard two-year scholarship duration, Engr. Sanchez plans to return as a full-time faculty member at the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, College of Engineering and Geosciences, Caraga State University (CarSU) in the Philippines starting 1 August 2020 and also serve as CarSU’s network to UPM for future research endeavors. Engr. Sanchez also plans to conduct research projects on postharvest engineering and technologies, bioprocessing, food engineering, sustainable agriculture, and related fields as well as encourage a research-to-publication culture which he experienced at UPM. While this practice initially made him feel the “pressure-to-publish” as UPM is a research-oriented university and his studies was only for two years, Engr. Sanchez turned both academic and research pressure into motivation to strive harder and do more than what is being required. This mindset led him to finishing his degree and master’s thesis on “Quality Evaluation of Sweet Potatoes (Ipomoea Batatas L.) during storage using Laser-Light Backscattering Imaging Technique” earlier than expected and publish three research papers in Q1 Journals with high impact factors from Elsevier while two more are undergoing review in Q1 and reputable journals. In the future, Engr. Sanchez also hopes to purse his PhD in Agricultural Engineering or any related field. All these, his accolades, experiences, and learnings, have taught him to always stay humble and continuously persevere so that he could one day share everything with his future students and colleagues.