Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

This time I’m eager to share with you all a letter that has been published by The Star on 17th April 2008. Actually, it has something to do with my alma mater and my field which is engineering. It’s actually written by one of the UTP Industry Advisor Panel members. So, let’s take a look on it.(Link to the original article)

Engineers of poor quality

I AM a manager in a chemical manufacturing firm in Malaysia. We often have vacancies for mechanical and chemical engineers, and occasionally electrical engineers. We do take in fresh graduates to train and develop for the future of our company.

In recent years, I have noticed a marked reduction in the quality of the engineering graduates. I would like to suggest that our local universities work with professional bodies such as Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM) and Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) to address the weaknesses.

Some of the courses should be tailored to suit industrial requirements. BEM and IEM would be in the right position to work with the many universities we have here. Alternatively, they could come up with modules to be included in the engineering curriculum at our local universities.

With the advent of computers and simulation packages, another new problem is that fresh engineers seem at a loss to conduct design calculations from basic principles. They are over reliant on such computer packages.

When they start work, they are at a loss to do design work because some companies may not have such computer packages. Hence, even basic engineering calculations to determine the optimum pipe sizing and pump selection are beyond them.

These are basic engineering calculations, and without the necessary skills, we are left with design works that are sub-optimal, resulting in high operating costs for the users.

Alternatively, everyone would be running to consultants to get even the most basic of engineering work done for them.

In many of the plants I have been to, there is much that could be done to improve efficiency by just going back to good basic engineering practice. And in some cases, it’s just using good common sense.

I think there is a need to teach and emphasise on such basics. We should ensure that our young engineers are provided with good foundation knowledge for the future of our country.

After all, it is upon solid foundations that skyscrapers are built.

In this aspect, I must take my hat off to University Technology Petronas (UTP), which has formed an Industry Advisory Panel (IAP), and invites professionals from the industry to review their curriculum and suggest areas for improvement. UTP is serious about this and has implemented many of the suggestions introduced by its IAP.

UTP also has an adjunct lectures series where professionals are called in to give lectures to the undergraduates. I think these are good initiatives that other universities would do well to emulate.

SHYAM LAKSHMANAN,
Lahat, Perak.

**By reading this letter, you know how tough life in UTP is. haha… With a lot of complicated adjunct lecture series, felt like dying you know. Yet it’s exciting. We are exposed on the industry at the very early stage. Even in the first year, we had been brought to chemical plant for exposure purpose. Even though sometime it’s too hard to be absorbed, at least we have some ideas on our future path. We are also exposed to current issues mostly regarding Oil and Gas Industry as we are part of PETRONAS family. Somehow we know the politician tricks on the price of Petrol and Diesel issue. hehe… that explain why knowledge is very crucial and priceless isn’t it? Wait! This is not to promote UTP, if so, then they need to pay me. haha… Let’s hope UTP produces the next generation of good young engineers for the better Malaysia. InsyaAllah. Gud luck everyone! Salam