The talk of the town is true – robots are slowly taking over as technology replaces human workers. What this means is that fresh graduates will now not only have to vie for an already shrinking number of jobs against their peers, but will soon have to play the game as man against machine.
Monash Malaysia’s School of Engineering (SoE) is ready for this change. The School, located in Sunway City, Kuala Lumpur, goes to great lengths to arm graduates with whatever it takes to succeed in a tough and ever-changing employment market.
And they do this, unabashedly, for one solid reason: to make their graduates future leaders in the engineering field.
To achieve this, Monash Engineering degrees (the same as those offered in Monash Australia. Find out more here) combines a core curriculum with various enhanced learning initiatives, instilling students with professional practice and work-ready expertise – two sought-after qualities among the contemporary employer.
Engaging industry through Industry Advisory Panel (IAP)
To ensure the institution achieves these goals, Monash has forged a strong university-industry collaboration – the backbone to all its Engineering programmes.
Senior managers and engineers from key industries and specialisations sit on its Industry Advisory Panel to advise on every Engineering programme, from giving input on its syllabus to offering information such as current industry trends, and employable skills and attributes.
Beyond advising, the IAP also act as facilitators, delivering career talks, guest lectures and seminars on-campus, and acting as mentors in the leadership program. Monash also maintains active engagement with various professional bodies, including the Institute of Engineers Malaysia (IEM), Engineers Australia (EA), IMechE, IChemE, IET, IEEE, etc.
Students have much to gain from such close collaboration, if South Korea’s economic miracle from agriculture-dependent country to innovative powerhouse is anything to go by. The most effective policies behind its rapid transformation are those that incentivise collaborative research between industry and universities.
Similarly at Monash, the Undergraduate Research Opportunities (UROP), a programme that lets students experience a genuine research environment, bank on this close relationship to morph students from regular graduates to Engineering pioneers.
“In my UROP, I was shown how the Engineering knowledge I learned could help [pave] the way to discover new treatment methods for cancer …I would definitely recommend this programme to other undergraduate students, because it is a good experience and very beneficial,” Mr Rupesh Kumar Dey, a Mechanical Engineering student who joined UROP last year, said.
Instilling passion and values through EDC and EWB
But Monash knows that academic calibre and industry prowess is only half of what it takes to trail blaze the field.
Notable alumni including Fave founder, Joel Neoh, and former Global President of Network and Infrastructure Solutions, Mr Hock Goh, showing that behind every leader is a strong value system of passion and motivation.
The SoE insists that students inculcate such values through community-focused programmes like Engineering Without Borders (EWB) and Extenal Design Competitions (EDC), such as Shell’s Eco-Marathon Asia.
In last year’s contest, students were tasked to design, build and drive the most energy-efficient car. Six gruelling months went into designing the car and another four to build it, but lessons learned outstrip any classroom lectures, aiding students for the rest of their lives according to Professor Anthony Guo, Head of Monash Malaysia’s School of Engineering.
“In addition to applying what they learned in the classroom in their designs, students have to make their design work, and often work on thin-string budget. We want them to work hard, look for options, and challenge themselves in getting things done,” Professor Guo said in an exclusive interview with Study International.
And it isn’t just about building cars and winning the competition says team advisor, Dr Darwin Gouwanda.
“Along the journey, they acquire some important soft skills such as leadership, communication skill and project management, which would be beneficial for their future career,” Dr Darwin explains.
A survey by consultancy firm McKinsey & Company found that today’s graduates are sorely lacking soft skills like the ability to work in teams, critical thinking, and innovative flair. Talentcorp Malaysia voiced similar concerns for the region’s local graduates.
Against this backdrop, Monash’s SoE graduates, empowered by their experience in EDCs and EWB, hold an enviable edge over their peers, both locally and internationally.
Shaping tomorrow’s leaders via EILP and other initiatives
One theme is clear from Monash’s various means of imparting knowledge and values in grooming tomorrow’s future Engineers: maximising the potential of each and every student.
“I want to emphasise that we try to provide activities and programmes to maximise each person’s potential, to challenge themselves and get prepared for future,” Professor Guo stressed.
Meanwhile, high performing students are steered towards the Engineering and IT Leadership Programme (EILP), where the SoE joins hands with the School of Information Technology to groom students for leadership positions while at the University.
The 12-months long programme includes a retreat, regular meet up with industry mentors, a series of expert-led workshops, field trips, industry leadership engagement evenings and a participant-organised leadership summit. Past participants have praised the programme for challenging them to discover themselves in a fun environment among close friends.
“It was indeed inspirational and challenging to form a better leader in ourselves,” Siyali Kaushala, a participant in the 2015 EILP programme said.
An ambitious School that delivers
When asked what Monash envisions for each SoE student, Prof Guo said:
“Put it simply, we would like to see our graduates: Be useful with their knowledge and skills, be good with their professional ethics and integrity, and always willing to give back to community and to take lead in society.”
And that pledge can be observed in the SoE’s various programmes and courses, as well as by the lengths it’s willing to go to produce passionate graduates instilled with expertise and ethics, as well as to nurture leaders in society.
As Prof Guo says: “We are committed to be a top choice for students to study Engineering in Malaysia and Southeast Asia region.”