Getting the Right Linkages

Getting the Right Linkages
Volume 1 Issue 5 News & Resources | October 2008

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad


Editor
School of Electrical & Electronic Eng
Universiti Sains Malaysia
email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Getting the right linkages

Conducting real research requires multiple capabilities. As a research group, proper selection of research members and their capabilities are of utmost importance. Of course, it�s not just about having a proper resumes or CVs, but the having the right chemistry (read: conducive environments) among the members. Collaboration and sharing are the keywords to success.

Getting people to work together to achieve a common aim is not an easy task. But, in order for any research team to succeed, this prerequisite must be fulfilled right from the onset, if possible. It takes time, but with persistence and sincere efforts, any stumbling blocks will be overcome. Of course a clear research vision will certainly help.

If collaboration is important among and between research team members, it is also of particular importance among research groups. There is no research group/team that is �big� enough to be able to cover the entire issues in solving the research problems at hand. A helping hand, coming from another research group, will be useful.

We are talking about research linkages, local and international. Other than getting recognition and reliable helping hands, having strong research linkages will ensure that the research output will be more easily accepted and vetted. In terms of research assistance, local/international research linkages will enable us to utilise equipment or set-up which are not within our immediate reach.

International linkages, especially, will be crucial for any research group perceived performance. The increase in research output quality will normally correlate to the increase in international linkages. As time progresses, quality of the research work will improve significantly, and it is quite a normal respond that everybody would like to be linked to that particular research team.

There is no harm in developing research linkages either locally or internationally. In fact, in the current scenario, it is a must, at every level of the research processes. For underwater research, we must put every effort to establish linkages with others, especially with the international research teams. We will be able to learn from their experiences, the least is not to repeat their mistakes.

Research linkages will, at the end, translates into access to experts and readily available resources. Door to other unknown opportunities will be opened, and we will certainly gain the extra miles in our endeavour to put Malaysia in the world map.

Go for it. Link!

�And before i forget, i would like to wish all reader Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Eid Mubarak) & Maaf Zahir Batin. Have a safe journey on the road..�

 

 

 

Capacity-building: Any Takers?

Capacity-building: Any Takers?
Volume 1 Issue 4 News & Resources | September 2008

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad


Editor
School of Electrical & Electronic Eng
Universiti Sains Malaysia
email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Capacity-building: Any takers?

As the country progresses to achieve its stated aim, utilising whatever available means at its disposal, she must also allocate some space for analysis and evaluation of the actions taken so far. Incremental milestones along the way will certainly help all of us to realise the actual performance. Aspirations are important, but continuous re-alignment is fundamental.

In terms of underwater technology, we have two important paths to consider. It is either we aim for capacity building or we go for product development. Both paths imply different requirements. At the research level, we may have option to choose either one, but as a country, we have no options. Both paths must have its champions.

Putting everything into capacity building is of course important for long term strategy, but having the capacity to develop system, which will end up as acceptable product, will be of prime importance, now. The country has been spending a lot of money to purchase a number of underwater system and technology. It comes in the form of underwater vehicle platforms, underwater sensors and underwater imaging devices. Vice versa, forgetting capacity building altogether, will surely render the country dependent on others. And this is certainly not the long term aim of any country.

Building capacity requires intelligent strategies and approaches. We have to be able to choose the most pertinent fundamental technologies and to develop the appropriate hardware/software set-up. Not forgetting access to the best human resources. These mean proper planning and effective actions being taken. As research groups fight (read: compete) to get the best experts to their respective research team, our country must ensure that our local experts will be retained and the available schemes are attractive enough for others.

Building capacity will, at the end, lead to product development. Especially, when the technology developed is novel and versatile enough. Products based on solid technology will certainly serve a number of applications. Underwater applications have always given researchers a lot of challenges. But, with challenges and obstacles, come opportunities for everyone who dares.

For Malaysia to excel in developing system and technology for underwater applications, we must be appreciative of the current level of underwater technology, and its limitations. To some, we may be moving too slow, but this is better than not doing anything to improve our situations.

Nobody will deny the tremendous potentials of our seas and marine resources. Having the capacity to exploit the resources is now no longer an option, but certainly a MUST.

This is our mission, and indeed a noble mission it is!

 

 

 

Towards Integration or Disintegration?

Towards Integration or Disintegration?
Volume 1 Issue 3 News & Resources | August 2008

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad


Editor
School of Electrical & Electronic Eng
Universiti Sains Malaysia
email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Towards Integration or Disintegration?

Underwater system and technology research involves a number of components or modules from various technical disciplines. For a simple underwater sensor system to function, the integration of the multitudes of modules must be smooth and trouble-free. As in any system developed by any engineer, an overall working understanding of the complete system must always be clear. In other words, the specifications must be visible. If not, it is basically a disaster waiting to happen.

To enable a trouble-free integration process, the sub modules, which have been designed and developed, must take into account the interfacing issues right from the start. These measures require communication and interchange of ideas between multiple groups working on individual and specific modules. And, this is where the problem normally starts. Breakdown of communication and also miscommunication leads to misunderstanding and system malfunctions.

In underwater research, a lot more needs to be done to encourage all of us to cooperate and talk to each other. We need to open-up and share our know-how and abilities with our fellow researchers. This is the back-bone of a good research community and environment, i.e. the feeling of ownership and cooperation. I am sure all of us do believe that thru communicating with each other, we can reach the optimum solutions to our problems.

There will always be obstacles along the way and certainly this requires inner strength. Hence, for us to be able to produce the state-of-the-art underwater system and technology, we must learn to integrate. We have no choice. This is the only way to accelerate the process of achieving our aims.

So, let us communicate and integrate!

 

 

 

What can we learn from nature?

What can we learn from nature?
Volume 1 Issue 2 News & Resources | July 2008

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad


Editor
School of Electrical & Electronic Eng
Universiti Sains Malaysia
email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

What can we learn from nature?

Human beings may be the most intelligent creature created by God, but we can surely take lessons from other living beings and nature as a whole. In fact, learning from nature is one of the important tools of development in human history. The needs to solve problems and to live comfortably, mankind has always find a way-out from virtually all problems.

In underwater research, learning from nature is also an important tool. Research into new underwater robotics locomotion, development of bio-inspired sensors, right to new energy sources; nature has the potential to assist all of us. Of course, we have to select and chose those that best fit into our problems.

Being an underwater robotics research group, we are very interested in investigating squids and fish locomotion or swimming techniques. They can move freely and can change direction abruptly without consuming so much energy and with less turbulence. The gracefulness of a squid swimming is vastly different to the motion of 6DOF vector thrusted Remotely-Operated Vehicles (ROVs). If we look from the control point of view, it brings up a lot more things to be investigated. The question of control and optimum energy usage is a very interesting topic. Currently, Central Pattern Generator (CPG) methods are being investigated in our lab. Comparison between Matsouka and Macmillen CPG oscillator techniques gave some promising indicators.

Looking into nature meant looking into a system which has been tested by time. As an example, when we talked about underwater sensor development, there are tremendous lessons that we can learn from the marine organisms, even the single-cell organism suspended in the oceans environment.

The challenge is how to model the complex biological system. We are obsessed with modeling because only through proper system modeling that we can really understand the biological system in nature. But, as we all know, modeling involves making assumptions. And in this assumption making process that we must be extra-careful, so as not to misrepresent anything.

Nowadays, Bio-inspired systems are the in-things. It is difficult not to bump into something �bio� when we read any magazines. Some say, bio-inspired system is the way forward for system design in the future. But, for this to become true, we can either wait, or do something about it. At the end, nobody is losing, and we have all to gain.

So, are you ready for something �Bio� today?

 

 

 

Break New Frontiers

What can we learn from nature?
Volume 1 Issue 2 News & Resources | July 2008

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad


Editor
School of Electrical & Electronic Eng
Universiti Sains Malaysia
email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Break New Frontiers 

 

The efforts in developing new technologies to be applied in an underwater environment is getting more important as we proceed to explore new frontiers in finding new resources and ensuring its sustainability. As much as we think the marine resources is crucial to the well-being of human civilisation in the coming decades, more so is in the development of appropriate technology to make it realisable. Our marine resources are our untapped resources, yet to be exploited to its optimum potentials. For this to be done, we must ensure proper and appropriate technology be ready.

In Malaysia, we have significant numbers of scientists conducting basic and applied research related to the marine or underwater environments. We have, for example, groups of biologist, oceanographers and marine scientist conducting active research in our oceans and shores. They are using a number of state-of-the art sensors and equipment in their research. This is unavoidable, in order to ensure reliable data can be gathered and a justified conclusion can be made of any study or investigations. Marine sensors and related equipment are, admittedly, very expensive. And certainly, this put a significant constraints on the type of research that can be conducted. At the same time, we do have a large number of engineers and researcher who have the capabilities to develop our own locally made sensors and systems. It is just a matter of linking these two groups together. And with the first class facility that we currently have in research institutes and universities in the country, there is no valid excuse for us not to venture into this endeavour.

The efforts to convince people of authorities about the importance of this area is not an easy matter. A lot of efforts have been put into ensuring proper attention is given to this specific enabling field of technology. I do hope all the efforts which have been put, are not in vain, which I am quite sure is not the case.

On another note, I am quite optimistic of the future of underwater system technology development and future progress in our beloved country. I do also hope with the establishment of an underwater research network, a lot of issues pertaining to this important enabling technology will be resolved. The bigger the problem, the more we need to work together.

We are here to break new frontiers, and to do this we must start now.