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UTP Contributes Towards Nation's Technology, Engineering Development

Last update: 30/09/2009
By Zuhafizah Ahmad Zaki

SERI ISKANDAR, Sept 30 (Bernama) -- When the then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad tabled the Sixth Malaysia Plan in the Dewan Rakyat in 1991, he was aware of the fact that the country needed high quality human resource particularly in the field of science, technology and engineering.

Hence, the national petroleum company or Petronas established the Institut Teknologi Petronas (ITP) in April 1995 with the objective of providing the human resource for these fields.

The institute, which was located in Bangi, had never looked back.

ITP began its first academic session on July 1995 with only six permanent staffs at rented premises. Laboratory work was conducted at Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (UPM) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

In July 1996, ITP relocated its operations to Seri Iskandar here after taking over the campus vacated by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM).

The same year, the government invited Petronas to establish a university and Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) took shape on Jan 10, 1997.

POSITIVE CONTRIBUTIONS


Today, after holding nine convocations, UTP has produced 5,642 graduates including 256 at the Master's level.

Twelve years after its inception, UTP now can be proud with its achievement in producing graduates with all-round capability apart from being creative and innovative to become the movers of the nation's industries.

UTP Rector Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Kasim said the university's graduates have always contributed positively to the country by their involvement in various fields and this is not limited to the oil and gas industry alone.

"Engineering and technology are the two key fields that have received positive impact from these UTP products. For example in the automotive industry, there are many UTP graduates employed as engineers with national car makers Proton and Perodua.

"There are UTP graduates working in the automobile research and development industry and they have contributed towards the improvement of the nation's automobile industry", he told Bernama in a special interview here recently.

ADMINISTRATIVE AND DIPLOMATIC SERVICE


Dr Zainal Abidin said the graduates contributions did not stop in the engineering and technology fields as they were given the trust and worked in the administrative and diplomatic service like the post of assistant officer.

"There are UTP graduates working in the marketing, business and banking sectors as well as government-owned financial institutions, these private sectors provide the opportunity for UTP graduates to continue contributing towards the country's economic development and growth," he said.

A great number of UTP graduates are having their career in the petroluem-related industry and are employed by multi-national giants like Shell, ExxonMobil and Petronas itself.

He said the UTP graduates were employed not only in Malaysia but throughout the world like Bahrain, Qatar, Arab Saudi, Sudan, Vietnam and Argentina.

Dr Zainal Abidin said the university also has post-graduate students that today totalled more than 800 from 25 countries including Malaysia, Egypt and Sudan.

A number of these foreign students are doing their Master's and PhD where they have contributed their ideas as well as innovations through their research work held at UTP.

UTP BRANCH CAMPUS


Dr Zainal Abidin said the university has no plans to open a branch campus as its objective was not quantity but to produce capable and quality candidates in line with UTP's mission.

"Investment and operating costs for an engineering and technology-based university are very high and Petronas is not out to seek profit. It is Petronas's commitment to contribute towards development of the society particularly for the future generations," he said.

UTP is now stepping up its research and development (R&D) activities to achieve its next objective to obtain the government's recognition as a research university.

UTP has answered the call by its Pro-Chancellor Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Merican to act proactively to attract more researchers from across the globe to boost the university's capability and credibility.

"UTP has and will continue to initiate measures to boost its image as a leading and prestigious university, improve its campus facilities by providing more room for research work apart from stepping up the strategic relations with other institutions of higher learning as well as that of research and industries," said Dr Zainal Abidin. REO

Aware that R&D is one of the important aspects of its establishment, UTP had set up the 'Research Enterprise Office' (REO) in 1999.

"The aim in setting up of REO is to have a special unit to manage all matters connected to research, consultation and innovations for UTP.

"Since its inception in 1999, REO has boosted UTP's capability and credibility in generating huge research grants from the government, Petronas and industries," he said.

Dr Zainal Abidin said funds from the grants were utilised to implement research programmes that resulted in new innovations and discoveries.

Some of these innovations had bagged awards and accolades at the world's renowned expositions such as the 'International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques and Product of Geneva' in Switzerland.

The other expos where UTP had made its name known were the 'Malaysia International Invention, Innovation and Technology Exhibition (ITEX)', 'Malaysian Technology Exposition and Innova Eureka' as well as "Innova Energy' in Brussels, Belgium.

Recently UTP won three gold, one silver and one bronze medals in Geneva while the university's participation at ITEX 2009 resulted in the university bagging five gold, three silver and one bronze medals.

RESEARCH GRANTS


REO has garnered research grants of close to RM107.9 million. It has also won 36 gold medals at local and foreign expositions since 2005.

UTP is also focussing on nine fields of research named as the 'Mission Oriented Research' (MOR).

"The purpose of MOR is to conduct research for the benefit of the oil and gas sector apart from other studies like that on alternative energy. All of the outcome from the research done would infuse new dimension for the sustainability of the country's oil and gas industry," he said.

For Dr Zainal Abidin, who has been UTP Rector for close to five years, his objective is for UTP to achieve research university status in 2013.

"Our strategy is to robustly develop R&D in oil and gas sector due to our unique relation with this industry that gives us some advantages over the other universities," he said.

Dr Zainal Abidin said UTP has identified several fields related to the industry that are to be given priority like Carbon Dioxide Management, Deep Sea E&P Technology, Nano Technology and Green Technology.

"I hope the R&D development that we carry out in UTP will give rise to new technologies that will benefit the industries and turns the university into a referral centre for the latest technologies.

"For the long term, I hope UTP will turn into an institution that is the pride of the nation, as well as the model for other universities in the country and abroad," he added.

-- BERNAMA