Daily Archives: June 21, 2009

Engineering greatness

The Star Online > Education

Sunday June 21, 2009

Engineering greatness


Almost a generation apart, two engineers talk about the profession, their experiences and the future of the industry in Malaysia.

LOOK around Kuala Lumpur today and you’ll see the many marvels of engineering.

Heritage lairs like Istana Budaya and skyscrapers like the Petronas Twin Towers speak for themselves and Malaysia’s many power grids and water pipelines point to another sphere of engineering.

Going further, academia will show that engineers have reshaped the world. Frederick Winslow Taylor not only stuck to his trade but influenced 20th century business with Scientific Management.

With so much to boast of, one is inclined to think that there is never a dull day in the life of an engineer.

The beauty of small things

The general perception of engineering is that it deals with giant structures but this is not always the case.

Chartered engineer and former Institute of Engineers Malaysia president Dr Ting Wen Hui, 73, is one who shares this view

“A lot of people may associate engineering with big things but this isn’t always the case,” he says.

“For example, civil engineering is all about creating, improving and protecting the environment in which we live.

“We do design and construct grand structures like tall buildings and bridges but first and foremost, we make sure things work right.”

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Institute of Postgraduate Studies and Research director Prof Dr Lee Sze Wei, 43, agrees.

Specialising in electrical and electronic (E&E) engineering, Prof Lee talks about the daily grind of E&E engineers when it comes to churning out product designs and ensuring that a plant’s output is on track.

In his view, the availability of engineers in the right fields has led to Malaysia’s steady growth for decades but times are changing.

Changing lanes

Although thousands of engineering students receive their scrolls every year, Prof Lee opines that this does not meet Malaysia’s immediate needs.

“There are many graduates but few engineers actually go into research and development,” he says.

“There aren’t enough qualified research and design engineers to meet the demand of multinational companies (MNCs). The job opportunities are there but only a few can grab them.”

Agreeing, Dr Ting points out that many things have changed.

Looking back at the “good old days” he points out that local engineers served Malaysia well at a time when MNCs were outsourcing.

“Big companies really liked us in the 70s and 80s,” he recollects.

“We had lots of technical engineers who would do good work and unlike cases in other countries, they would never rip off any ideas or product designs to start their own offshoot.

“It was good as it brought in foreign direct investment but it was also a warning sign that we had problems when it came to innovating.”

And with innovation at the forefront of business today, both Prof Lee and Dr Ting feel that the inadequacies of engineering – and engineers – in Malaysia are being exposed.

Back to school

Part of the problem, they feel, lies with the expectations of students and the way engineering programmes are run in universities.

A Universiti Malaya student from 1954 to 1958 and subsequently a lecturer, Dr Ting proceeds to point out the differences.

“Classes were more engaging then and passing a subject came with a real sense of achievement as marking was strict and there were many who failed,” he says.

“Although it was hard, the system brought out the best in students as they had to outdo themselves.

I’m not saying allowing more people to pass is a bad thing but certain standards must always be upheld.”

Dr Ting continues by bemoaning the day when peer reviews were stopped in UM as they provided checks and balances and this ensured that nothing was taken lightly.

However, the buck does not stop with lecturers and programme coordinators for Prof Lee, who cites student preference as another barrier.

“Quite a number of students can’t seem to wait start working,” says Prof Lee with a laugh.

“They don’t even consider postgraduate qualifications and you can’t be a research engineer without a Masters degree.”

Show me the money

Prof Lee believes that this could be down to the cash nexus.

Postgraduate courses do not come cheap and unless a student is fortunate enough to get a scholarship, finance could be a barrier to entry.

“I see this as a problem and this is the reason why institutions like UTAR charge lower fees for their Masters programmes,” he says.

The cost-benefit analysis may also complicate matters.

“Many MNCs offer good students jobs even before they graduate,” continues Prof Lee.

“While this is great for students but it also means starting a career early and sometimes they’ll never go back to university.

“And MNCs complain that we don’t have enough research and design engineers!”

To counter this and keep the best minds in university – for a while longer – Prof Lee believes that more incentives should be given to postgraduate students.

He lauds the government’s MyBrain15 programme that aims to produce 100,000 researchers and PhD holders in the next 15 years.

He hopes that more follow-up efforts will be made.

The way of the future

Perceptions on engineering must also change, according to Dr Ting.

“Engineering is very broad based and people must see this.

“Engineering students in the United States and Europe cross over to economics and management easily.

“Many end up working in banks and consulting firms. And the best part is that they move back to engineering or even academia.

“We need to have that mobility here. It’ll enrich not only engineering but every other sector and that will truly contribute to nation building.”


Top marks for a job well done-The Star Online > Education

The Star Online > Education

Sunday June 21, 2009

Top marks for a job well done

Let’s Hear It

YOUR article headlined “Not up to the mark” (StarEducation June 7) was well written; and I applaud your writer Sarah Chew and your paper for bringing it up.

The article said that with about 100,000 graduates being churned out every year, a university degree can’t be all that hard to get. This is indeed true. Just imagine, learning English without grammar in school had even shocked the Education Minister! It is just unbelievable.

I was not shocked when I saw the SPM English Paper which had instructions and questions in both languages so that candidates who could not understand English could understand it in Bahasa Malaysia! Why? I think it is simply absurd!

Frankly I am really disturbed about the state of education in this country. It is good that you highlighted this point so as to open people’s eyes and minds.

The standard of education here is going to the dogs. Look at Singapore where the English language is a medium of instruction and students are able to sit for the Cambridge O-Level and A-Level.

Meritocracy is still the yardstick in the island. It is a level-playing field; and there is no hue and cry over the entry to University or scholarship grants. The best students get the scholarships!

Thank you. Keep it up!


S.H. Huang

Avoiding contempt and hatred-Machiavelli


Avoiding contempt and hatred

Machiavelli observes that most men are content as long as they are not deprived of their property and women. A prince should command respect through his conduct, because a prince that is highly respected by his people is unlikely to face internal struggles. Additionally, a prince who does not raise the contempt of the nobles and keeps the people satisfied, Machiavelli assures, should have no fear of conspirators.

In What Way Princes Should Keep Their Word-Machiavelli


In What Way Princes Should Keep Their Word

Machiavelli notes that a Prince is praised for keeping his word. However, he also notes that a Prince is also praised for the illusion of being reliable in keeping his word. A Prince, therefore, should only keep his word when it suits his purposes, but do his utmost to maintain the illusion that he does keep his word and that he is reliable in that regard. Therefore, a Prince should not break his word unnecessarily.

Machiavelli on Cruelty vs. mercy



Cruelty vs. mercy

In answering the question of whether it is better to be loved than feared, Machiavelli writes, “The answer is of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.” As Machiavelli asserts, commitments made in peace are not always kept in adversity; however, commitments made in fear are kept out of fear. Yet, a prince must ensure that he is not feared to the point of hatred, which is very possible. Above all, Machiavelli argues, do not interfere with the property of the subjects, their women, or the life of somebody without proper justification. Regarding the troops of the prince, fear is absolutely necessary to keep a large garrison united and a prince should not mind the thought of cruelty in that regard. For a prince who leads his own army, it is imperative for him to observe cruelty because that is the only way he can command his soldiers’ absolute respect. Machiavelli compares two great military leaders: Hannibal and Scipio Africanus. Although Hannibal’s army consisted of men of various races, they were never rebellious because they feared their leader. Scipio’s men, on the other hand, were known for their mutiny and dissension.

Pendidikan Global: Akreditasi ASIC

Pendidikan Global: Akreditasi ASIC

Oleh Norliza Abdullah

LUCT dapat pengiktirafan globalACCREDITATION Service For International Colleges (ASIC), agensi perkhidmatan akreditasi kolej antarabangsa mengiktiraf tiga kampus Limkokwing University Creative Technology (LUCT) sebagai kolej berprestij atau Premier College bersandarkan kecemerlangan program ditawarkan.Agensi berpangkalan di United Kingdom itu turut mengiktiraf lima universiti dengan status sama iaitu St Peter’s College, Kolej Bersekutu University of Oxford, Kesington College of Business dan London School of Commerce.

Ketua Eksekutif ASIC, Maurice Dimmock, berkata pengiktirafan kampus LUCT di Botswana, Kemboja dan Kuala Lumpur berasaskan pelbagai kriteria antaranya, kualiti program bertaraf global dengan mempunyai keperluan industri setempat serta antarabangsa.

Begitu juga dengan kebajikan pelajar, beliau berkata, kaedah pengajaran dan pembelajaran disampaikan lebih inovatif dan kreatif menerusi penggunaan teknologi maklumat dan komunikasi (ICT) sesuai perkembangan semasa.

“Kriteria lain termasuk persekitaran pembelajaran kondusif, selesa dan selamat, pengurusan berkesan, selain mempunyai hubungan baik dengan agensi kerajaan dan badan berkaitan dalam menyediakan latihan industri kepada pelajar.

“Sebelum ini, kampus LUCT di London diiktiraf sebagai Premier College berdasarkan kualiti program ditawarkan memenuhi keperluan industri setanding kolej antarabangsa lain di negara berkenaan,” katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian pada majlis penyerahan akreditasi tiga kampus LUCT kepada Presidennya, Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Lim Kok Wing di Cyberjaya, baru-baru ini.

Hadir sama, agensi rundingan pendidikan NCFE dari New Casastle Upon Tyne diwakili Ketua Eksekutifnya, David Grailey dan Pengarah Pembangunan Perniagaannya, Alasdair Downes.

Sebagai agensi akreditasi diiktiraf kerajaan, Maurice berkata, proses ini perlu dilaksanakan secara telus dan memenuhi keperluan asas pengiktirafan antaranya, kualiti pengajaran yang konsisten.

Beliau berkata, perkhidmatan pendidikan yang dibawa dari satu negara ke negara lain perlu dilaksanakan secara berkesan dengan mengambil kira kualiti program, tenaga pengajar berkelayakan, mutu pengajian memenuhi keperluan semasa dan maklum balas pelajar mengenai kebajikan sepanjang tempoh pengajian.

Sepanjang tempoh kunjungannya ke negara ini, beliau berkata, pihaknya menerima permohonan sebuah institusi pengajian tinggi (IPT) awam yang berminat mendapatkan khidmat nasihat mengenai usaha mengekalkan kecemerlangan pendidikannya yang diperoleh selama ini.

“Kami bersedia menerima mana-mana permohonan daripada IPT swasta yang berminat mendapatkan perkhidmatan.

“Sebelum ini, ASIC menyediakan khidmat rundingan pendidikan kepada sebuah IPT yang diusahakan pihak swasta di Singapura,” katanya.

Syarat autonomi IPTA diperketat

Syarat autonomi IPTA diperketat

Oleh Azida Shaharuddin

JOHOR BAHRU: Kerajaan akan mengambil sikap lebih berhati-hati dalam mempertimbangkan permohonan autonomi universiti awam berikutan kejadian kesilapan Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) mengumumkan senarai akhir kemasukan pelajar ke sesi 2009/2010, baru-baru ini.Menteri Pengajian Tinggi, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, berkata kejadian yang disifatkannya tidak wajar berlaku itu akan diperhalusi supaya tidak berulang sebelum kuasa autonomi itu diperluaskan kepada universiti lain seperti universiti penyelidikanKatanya, pihaknya menyedari tindakan universiti yang sentiasa mahu autonomi merangkumi pelbagai bidang dan kementerian mengambil keputusan dengan memberikan keistimewaan itu kepada USM dari segi pengambilan pelajar.“Status USM sebagai universiti Apex yang memiliki autonomi dalam pengambilan pelajar adalah satu percubaan supaya kuasa autonomi ini dapat diperluaskan kepada universiti lain seperti universiti penyelidikan.

“Bagaimanapun, dengan terjadinya insiden ini, mungkin melambatkan atau membuatkan kerajaan lebih berhati-hati menerima tuntutan autonomi dalam pelbagai bidang yang dikemukakan pihak universiti pada masa depan, ” katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian selepas merasmikan Program Gerak Kemas anjuran Majlis Perbandaran Pasir Gudang (MPPG) Zon Scientex di Taman Scientex di sini semalam.

Mohamed Khaled mengulas berhubung kesilapan dalam pengumuman senarai akhir kemasukan pelajar ke USM bagi sesi 2009/2010 apabila menyenaraikan nama semua pelajar yang layak iaitu kira-kira 8,173 calon sedangkan jumlah pengambilan sebenar 3,599 orang saja.

Kesilapan yang dilakukan menyebabkan lebih 4,574 calon yang tidak ditawarkan juga terpapar dalam laman web USM dan kesilapan hanya disedari selepas lebih 1,300 calon direkodkan menerima tawaran itu.