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“Future Engineers must think outside the box”, the IAP’s reminded

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31 October 2018; The School of Chemical Engineering once again scheduled an Industry Advisory Panel, (IAP) meeting as parts of the feedback required by the Engineering Accreditation Council, (EAC), for their accreditation exercise later in November. The School welcomed Datuk Nur Iskandar A Samad, Project Director of PETRONAS RAPID Project in Pengerang, Johor and Chemical Engineering frequent advisory panel visitor, Mr Paul R. Ellis, Managing Director of Schaefer Kalk (M) Sdn. Bhd. based in Kuala Ketil, Kedah.

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The 9 o’clock meeting with the School’s management started with a discussion on the 10 percent EAC requirement of the academic staff to hold Professional Engineer (PEng.) status. Paul whom strongly agrees with the condition suggested that the School should make a concerted effort to have a strong collaboration with an industry. This would then provide a continuous temporary appointment of the staff to the particular industry, which then eases the candidate into searching for companies.

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The panels then looked into the current revised structure of the Chemical Engineering Programme and stressed that safety aspects should be introduced in all core chemical engineering courses apart from having its own course. A Leeds University alumnus, Datuk Nur Iskandar later praised the School for introducing the advanced level safety subject as one of the elective courses.

At the end of the session, both panels encouraged the School into introducing a project that covers multidisciplinary areas beyond chemical engineering so that students will start to venture into other engineering aspects. This would also become a platform for students to think outside the box.

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The IA panels were then arranged to meet the selected Final Year students in a “mock interview session”, such that they could gauge the ability and knowledge of the students after going through the 3-year training under the USM’s Chemical Engineering programme. When the session ends, the interviewers directly provide the outcome of the interview, where among others, they stressed on the English proficiency as well as the confident level of some of the candidates. These are the first traits that panels of interviewers look for in an interview session.

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Later in the afternoon, the industrial panels were ushered to the Auditorium Hall to join together with the chemical engineering undergraduate students in a forum session entitled “The Challenge of Preparing Market-Ready Graduates: Are you ready?” The forum was moderated by Dr. Norazharuddin Shah Abdullah, Director of the Centre for Alumni Liaison, Career and Graduate Employability (ACE), Universiti Sains Malaysia. The session started with introductory questions to the panels, particularly on the undergraduate experiences that they had in the 70’s. Mr. Ellis responded that during those years, computers and IT in particular was none existent. Students were dependent only on the punch cards in order to operate the computing machine. On another question posed by the audience on the preparation of curriculum vitae, Paul iterated that a CV is the first document an employer examines to select a candidate, thus a CV preparation must present what an industry wants and what a candidate could provide to the company.

The forum session lasts until 4.30 pm where panels and moderator were presented with tokens of appreciation by the Dean, Professor Azlina Harun@Kamaruddin.

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Text : A.P. Dr. Mohamad Hekarl Uzir
Photo : Rasydan Omar