Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) marked another history when it became the only member of the Malaysian Technical Universities Network to receive funding from European international research fund, Erasmus + CBHE (Capacity Building Higher Education), to carry out strategic cooperation on the study of manpower and technology gaps in the automotive industry .
This recognition is proof that the university is not only world-class, but also on the right track towards advancement and meeting the challenges of the future.
UTeM was selected to represent the country, in collaboration with Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM and DreamEDGE Sdn Bhd, a company leading the third national car project alongside Daihatsu Motor Co Ltd.
Head of the Centre for Advance Research Technology on Energy (CoE-CARE), Prof Ts Dr Noreffendy Tamaldin said the RM 4.6 million research grant involved a research collaboration via matching grants between research universities, technical universities in Malaysia, the automotive industry and universities in six countries – three in Europe (Austria, Germany and Italy) and three in Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand).
The study would involve the transfer of knowledge and best practices in the automotive industry from developed and leading automotive countries such as the EU to be shared with ASEAN regional countries.
“The focus of this study is in engineering, technology transfer, graduate marketability, and development of policies in the automotive industry,”.
“Some students find it difficult to master the skills required of the industry because the way the industry works is much more technologically ahead and cutting edge compare to how it is in the university. We want to overcome this by creating more dynamic and holistic automotive training modules that will add value to our graduates upon entering the workforce, so that students do not miss out and can adapt to the industry faster,” he added.
The coordinator for the research, Dr Hanna Sprenger from FH Joanneum (University of Applied Sciences) in Austria, has conducted preliminary research on UTeM based on research findings published in publications such as Journals, conference papers through “Google Scholar” and official websites, and found that the university has met the needs of the grant in terms of the expertise of researchers, equipment as well as UTeM’s close cooperation with the automotive industry.
“When representatives from FH Joanneum came to visit us in 2017, we took them on a tour of the university. They were amazed to find there were 42 labs fully equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, besides also having 90 doctorate-level lecturers,” he said.
“They are also impressed with the automotive research equipment that UTeM has, such as seven test-beds / dynamometer engines, as UTeM is the leading institution of higher education in the automotive field, in line with the university’s motto “Always a Pioneer, Always Ahead “.
Prof Noraffendy, who is also the Dean of the Graduate Studies Centre, said the three-year study, which began in January, is crucial for the purpose of analysing the gap in technology and curriculum between higher education institutions and the automotive industry in accordance with the European automotive industry framework.
He said eight experts from UTeM would be participating in the project, including Prof Dr Ghazali Omar; Asc Prof Dr Mohd Fadzli Abdollah; Dr Ahmad Kamal Mat Yamin; Dr Nor Azmmi Masripan; Dr Muhd Ridzuan Mansor; Asc Prof Dr Mohd Rizal Salleh; Asc Prof Dr Md Nizam Abd Rahman and Ts Dr Mohd Azli Salim.
“The selection of experts in this project is based on the background of their respective fields, which are tribology, vibration technology, advanced materials characteristics, concurrent design, and automotive technology, but the advantages of communicating in German and Japanese also add value to the research group on this project, “he said.
UTeM Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Raha Abdul Rahim said overall, the research has begun smoothly and was well conducted with all the researchers involved in the study.
“The prospects for this research are significant to the development of automotive expertise in the country and Asean, according to the European automotive industry model. As such, I hope the gaps in automotive industry in the country will be addressed as we work together to develop the industry to a global level,” she said.
ERASMUS + CBHE research grant
– Research grant of RM4.6 million for research beginning Jan 2019
-Three EU countries – Austria, Germany, Italy
-Three Southeast Asian countries – Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand
– Nine public universities
-Three members of the automotive industry