To Be Different

To Be Different

Volume 2 Issue 2 News & Resources | February 2009

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad

School of Electrical & Electronic Eng
Universiti Sains Malaysia
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To be different

In our struggle for excellence in our daily life, we have always been challenged to be more creative and inventive. Innovation is the name of the game. In this life, the common theme that has been always been thrown to us is, either “You Differentiate or You Die’. To be different and uncommon is not an easy thing to do, and even not easy to handle. There must be a reason for it to happen. We should not opt to be different just for the sake of being different.

In underwater system research, there is a heap of opportunities for differentiating. The opportunity is as big as the oceans themselves. And, fortunately, one can be different for the right reasons. From the research point of view, there are so many things to research on and so many problems yet to be discovered and solved. For so many of our land-based limitations, the oceans may at the end provide the optimum solutions.

For each depth zones of our oceans lay a number of research works that have yet to be initiated properly. Ask any biologist or ecologists, and they can easily come out with so many research topics. The only real problem that they are facing is limitations in terms of the right sensor and instrumentations or technology available. Using off-the-shelf tools are very logical, but, tuning capability constraints will be a major problem. Of course, there is a way out for this problem, but it will inevitably translate into increase costs.

Researchers engaging in underwater research technology must always be creative and innovative in their approach. Simple modifications and intelligent re-engineering of the available land-based technology may be useful for so many underwater applications. The tasks of measuring, sampling and inspecting will certainly be made simple by this approach. Nevertheless, proper considerations concerning increase pressure and risk of leakage must be tackled satisfactorily.

To be creative and inventive must also means lower operation costs in terms of money spent, power usage, manpower and time taken for deployment. Nowadays, the move is towards higher efficiency and faster results. Time is limited, but the tasks at hand are not getting lighter. Creativity and inventiveness can be nurtured and developed. The lessons are abundance in nature. We do need to observe and learn from them.

For example, in the development of an underwater robotics platform, there is an urgent need for new approach and new concept of underwater vehicles. Design constraints such as reliable energy source, streamlined body dynamics, robust navigation technique and active buoyancy control, have always been the problems in design and development of a reliable underwater vehicle platform. To come out of this rut, we need to think out of the box, and be brave enough to innovate, i.e. to try new things and techniques.

With the same old ways, we will always get the same old outcome. It is literally insane to expect new output to be generated from the existing technique being implemented. New outcome requires new approaches. It is applicable in conducting research, as much as it is applicable to our daily lives. Be different. Try new ways and approaches.

Why not?