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Industrial Revolution - Much Ado About Nothing?

Volume 10 Issue 3 News & Resources | July 2017

Industrial Revolution - Much Ado About Nothing?

july17

Mankind has made tremendous progress in the material sense of things. Technological breakthroughs and new discoveries have been made in frequency and proportion unimaginable compared to cumulative novelties from the last few centuries. With the advancement of science and technology, mankind was able to send human to the moon and most probably establish a viable human colony on Mars in the coming few decades. Disruptive technology has managed to reinvent and reformulate the way human live, i.e. affecting cultures and social dynamics. The advent of new technologies such as the computing prowess in machines and the connectivity via the internet medium has changed the normal mode of societal behaviors. Mankind is now more connected much more than ever. Human relationships at the micro and macro levels are now becoming more interlinked and complex.


Technology has certainly disrupted how humans lead their lives. We may seem to be more connected, but in actual fact, we have become more reclusive. The negative effects of technology have now brought about a worsening social respect for individual rights and spread of lies and fabricated news. Technology has managed to make our physical world more convenient and manageable, but has not done much to develop the human psyche to be more positive and considerate. The 4th industrial revolution is now touted as the game changer for future economy. In fact, the term 4th Industrial Revolution got the popular boost it needs at the World Economic Forum (WEF) held not so long ago. Countries around the world are now playing catch-up game. Everyone is trying hard to be the party who would accommodate and facilitate the growth of the 4th Industrial Revolution. It is about the wave of digital automation. More specifically, the term Industry 4.0 was coined to represent the smart and cyber-based manufacturing utilizing technology such as the Internet of Things (IOT), artificial intelligence, robotics, smart sensors and meta-heuristic intelligent algorithm for decision making. The 4th Industrial Revolution is here to stay especially for those countries already in the developed and developing leagues.


The popular term nowadays is the so-called “convergence of technologies”. Many problems and needs in daily human dealings are expected to be solved by direct utilization of state-of-the-art technologies which will include handling modules such as the hardware, software and connectivity issues. In a way, countries such as Malaysia must strive immediately to embrace the new industry direction. There is a need for the institution of higher learning to re-tune and adapt the current engineering and technology curriculum to cope with this upcoming trend. Though the currently available engineering and technology programmes offered in the nation’s IHLs have done relatively well in providing the graduate pool to meet the industrial needs, the acceptance of the need for curriculum updates and adjustment must be embraced. There are however many programmes on offer which are already fit well with the requisites of industry 4.0. The challenge is to ensure the programmes are robust enough to keep-up with the ever-changing landscape of technological advancement. As usual, before any remedial or proactive measures are taken, a certain level of understanding and appreciation of the effect of this new trend must be there. Any actions taken must ensure the nation is able to move well with whatever changes in the technological sphere.


One important realization is the fact that developing nations will have to do more in order to be relevant and adaptable to the new economic expectations. The readiness in terms of policies and infrastructures must enable and assist the fine-tuning processes required. From the educational and training aspects, the current working cohorts of engineers and technologists must be given easy and liberal access to training and skill upgrades. The new economic model which is evolving hand-in-hand with technological breakthroughs should be supported by a new breed of skilled workers. There so-called skilled workers include engineers, technologists, scientists and even the odd laborers. All of us must be ready to change for the better. The knowledge acquired from the Industry 4.0 initiatives will not just be limited to the manufacturing sector. It will, ultimately, creeps into the other business and social exchanges. The wave of digital automation and increase level of machine intelligence will help us to manage our daily resources around us better i.e. in a more efficient way. It is a significant change on how the world would be like in the coming decades. As they say, it not that we do not know how to manage time, but we do not know how to manage the use of time. The 4th industrial revolution has started. We must now ensure we are not left out. As the world progresses, so shall we. Now, I wonder what would be the 5th industrial revolution.

 

“Every problem or difficulty you face contains the seed of an equal or greater advantage or benefit. " ~Napoleon Hill 

 

drrizal 2014 2

Written by : 
Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad 
School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering 
email: Alamat emel ini dilindungi dari Spambot. Anda perlu hidupkan JavaScript untuk melihatnya.

Oh my leader, please lead…

Volume 10 Issue 2 News & Resources | June 2017

Oh my leader, please lead...

may 17

   1. Leadership in fantasy land

When one is appointed to the post of being a leader, it is the beginning of one of most interesting phase of one’s life, either on the enjoyable or distressing part. One can never be sure of the end of the leadership term. Of course, some do vied for leadership positions, while other may have just “fallen” into the position. No matter which routes which have been taken, the leader is now expected to lead, i.e. including managing the whole system. And, he must lead in the best of ways without having to make life difficult to anyone except himself. It is expected that all decisions which will be made by the leader to be of the wisest and accurate positions given the circumstances surrounding the sticky problems. The leader is also expected to know the way out of every knots and joints in a problem. The leader is expected to be perfect. He should satisfy everyone and be ready to smile in the most distressing situations. Yes, this is the traits of the imaginary leader the people are looking for. If you are not up for this, better just skip the race. Just be a common peasant and be content with whatever given.

   2. Leadership in realm of reality

In reality, some if not most, of our leaders are far from perfect. Countries went to war sometimes mainly to the eagerness to obey the whims and lusts of corrupt leaders to usurp and exploits other seemingly weaker neighbours. Innocent people got killed and displaced to uncertain places as direct consequences from the unscrupulous decisions by the so called leaders. In the interest of expanding their own ego, innocent citizen got entangled in the ensuing conflicts and families are broken apart. It will take at least few generations before things will recover for the better, if ever. And, all these are due to the leaders’ action in handling real conflicts or problems. Collateral damage is just part of the package. So, in reality, leaders are no longer the fountain of solitude and wisdom, but instead, the source of all the evil doings. What have happened to humanity in the modern era? Why are we stuck in this rut? How will humanity move forward? Well, despair will not take us anywhere except to push us down further. Life is always about hope. As long we have hope and dreams, we will find a way out. The first to go is the corrupt leader. The second one is the corrupt assistants who have provided all the scaffoldings for their bosses. The people will bring the change, somehow or rather.

   3. Leadership in Hope

We are natural leaders. We have been leading the pack the first moment we have fought for our survival. We are champions. The leadership role is natural to us. No doubt some people led better than others. But we are not that all bad. We have made good progress so far. If you are reading this article, it is already a proof of your capability of a leader, having the ability to lead all your senses to read and try to comprehend these ramblings. Some will fail even to finish the first sentence. Leadership must start with a sincere intention to make things better for all. Self-indulgence and self-serving decisions are out of the window. It is all about making things better for the followers and preparing a solid grounding for the future generations. In times of despair, hope is the last thing in people’s mind. It is the role of a leader to give hope and show the way to fulfil the hopes. All of us can appreciate that all leaders are imperfect and have their follies, but we would expect leaders to be the most positive and optimistic of a person. To them we look for inspirations and solitudes and leaders should reciprocate by showing this exact character. In hope we will lead.

   4. Leadership in Academia

Academia harbours many leaders. Given the opportunity, I believe many academics will shine in the role of a leader. Though, realistically, we can only select a few leaders, and the rest will just have to accept the reality of being the followers. This leader-follower dynamic in an academic setting is always very interesting and sometimes can be quite explosive (luckily, not expletive). A normal leader in an academic setting will be a term-based appointment. The leader can be called, for example: Dean, Programme Coordinator, Head of Department or Programme Director. Whatever the title, it will involve having to deal with their own colleagues and even some seniors. There are routine academic matters that have to be implemented every semester or what will be categorized as management matters. These are quite straightforward and seldom become the source of disagreement. The typical sources of altercation and disputes are when some quarters in the faculty tried to force their own version of reality or when they are in strong disagreement on some decisions taken by the leadership, especially, when they felt they have been victimized or unfairly treated. Things can easily get out of hand when rules are put aside or rules are freely interpreted to suit one’s position. A leader in such situation will certainly have to take tough decisions. The most important thing is the urgency to root out the major discrepancies in the arguments on the issues in hand. Leaders should not be haste and always be open to all. In this, any leader will be tested for their honesty and integrity. All in all, the leader can be assured, some will like him and some will never do. Ah yes, we are only here in the leadership position to deliver our responsibilities, and not so much to ensure we will be liked by all. Even the Prophets have enemies, who are we then to complain?

   5. Leadership for SALE?

One should aspire to lead to the betterment of everyone. It is a good intention to have. Leader will always leave legacies. We should aspire to leave lasting and beneficial legacies. The future generations will thank us for all we have done. We may not enjoy the fruit of our actions. But, we will be glad and happy to leave this temporary abode knowing we have done good and not sowed the seeds of destructions. The price of leadership is not cheap and it is not for everyone. Given the choice, I would be more than happy to be a follower. To assist the appointed leader to achieve our common dreams would be a great honour. It is also my belief that if someone has been given the trust to lead, the person should give his utmost for the people. Personal gains should be the last thing in the leaders’ mind. May our leader be truthful and succeed in the efforts. Rome was not built in one night. More so, a great leader needs time…and in time and patience we are almost lacking.

Bon Voyage!

drrizal 2014 2

Written by : 
Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad 
School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering 
email: Alamat emel ini dilindungi dari Spambot. Anda perlu hidupkan JavaScript untuk melihatnya.

About Academic Networking?

Volume 10 Issue 1 News & Resources | May 2017

About Academic Networking?

may17

   1. Why networking in academia?

One of the most important things for academics is to network with one another. The networking effort is pertinent to ensure we have access to academic resources not available in our immediate surroundings and to ensure we are always in touch with new developments in our field of knowledge, and even to ask for help with regards to our academic tasks. In the background global connectedness, an academician cannot be isolated from the rest and should not choose the path of total independent study, which is, technically, impossible in the current climate of growth of knowledge. For technology-based research especially, a working awareness about the nature and scope research work of our peers will be instrumental to ensure our own research work is relevant and has the potential to expand the boundaries of knowledge. The collaborative nature of sharing research progress needs a solid and comprehensive network of contacts. We make do our stuff locally, but the knowledge will later need to be assessed and shared globally. Without a strong national and international network, we will be doomed right for the start. So, having a social network or actually research-based friends will not be a waste. It will take us far and wide. Trust me. I have done it.

   2. How to network academically?

To network in academic setting is not that difficult. There are many ways which could be utilized. As young academics, attendance at national and international conferences would be a good starting point. The opportunities to meet other researchers in similar fields would be a natural establishment of new linkages and peers. The ensuing discussions would have the feeling of relevance and mutual benefits. The new list of academic colleagues meant new circles of influence. The casual meeting at the conferences will lead to formal appointments such as thesis evaluators, visiting scholar’s positions, joint grants applicants and even co-supervision of new research students. In fact, the network may lead to unknown territories unimagined before. The other practical advice is to start contacting possible colleagues at the national and international levels. There is no harm or embarrassing in introducing our good self to others. Without making the first move, the chance of networking may never appear on the horizon. The eagerness to make new contacts in and among the academics will be of great benefits in the long run. The academic circle is just too small and narrow, and we will certainly bump into each other one way or another.  

   3. What kind of network?

But then, what kind of network will be of utmost benefit. People, by nature, may relate to each other in various forms. As an individual, we may fill into different role in relation to the person we are referring to, i.e. the context of the situation. The most important aspect to be considered for academician is to relate to others by way of common academic interests. These will be a solid platform to leap frog activities to other more tangible efforts. Realistically, one should ensure his inner networking within his organization must first be firmed. The inner circles will be the base for whatever external networking which has been established. Often those who forgot to settle things at home will face many obstacles in optimizing of the broad external networking which has been painstakingly worked on. This holistic approach to networking will ensure one garner sufficient support, internally and externally, to propel far in the academic world. In a nutshell, no network is bad network unless we misuse the linkages. All can be utilized to strengthen one presence in academia. Any news is good news – as they say.

   4. What to do with our network?

Now, assumed one has established the so-called academic circles, how can it now be utilized to the utmost? As one progresses in the academic career, one should be aware of the potentials available throughout networked academic colleagues. The relationship is symbiotic in nature. As much as we like people to help us, we must be among the first to lend our hands to others. The way forward for networking is to extend the relationship not just for academic matters. Ultimately from the academic contacts, some may later transform into becoming our long lost best friends. Why not? Better to have many friends than enemies.


As a summary, academic network is a must for all those working in academia. It is never too early to start networking. An academic circle is peer-review promotion sift. Being independent in thinking is great. Being alone and unknown in academia is a disgrace. As much as we would like our knowledge and academic output to do the talking, a great personality will take us much further ahead.


So, just get yourself more linkages to others. You will never know when you need the assistance of others.

 

drrizal 2014 2

Written by : 
Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad 
School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering 
email: Alamat emel ini dilindungi dari Spambot. Anda perlu hidupkan JavaScript untuk melihatnya.

The "ideal" job

Volume 9 Issue 5 News & Resources | September 2016

The "ideal" job

september16

 

   1. The job

I have been imagining the difficulties of being a new academic staff in public universities nowadays. With the continuous cost cutting measures by the government and the gloomy economic outlook of the world and the not so positive situation in the country, one would need to be much more creative and industrious in figuring ways out of the glut. The seemingly insurmountable challenges and expectations are there to stay, and no tangible efforts are visible in making them more responsive to the dynamics of society at large. For example, the promotion criteria are static in nature and the measurement tools and promotion evaluation processes are not linked to the prevalent conditions one is facing. Embarking on an academic career needs serious commitment and focus. One will need to accelerate on the learning curve and pick up the tricks of the trade the soonest. The job is not an easy meat and may not suit everyone’s palate. But, one thing for sure, this job has the potential to bring out the best of ourselves. And, the opportunities to imprint our legacies in future generations are in abundance.

   2. The requirements

A lecturer has to teach the precepts and contents of knowledge, research the solutions for the ever-persistent problems in society, facilitate the rudimentary of university’s administrations and serve the needs of surrounding communities, professional or the general masses. In order to teach, he/she must allocate sufficient time for material review, preparation and assessment. The specific aspect of knowledge to be imparted must be sculptured in ways which will ease the learning processes. The research efforts must be made to be relevant and practical in terms of its actual utilization and usefulness. The product of research can be as varied as the topics which can be tackled. Admittedly, highly-cited publications will be the main outcome of all research efforts. A relevant and up-to-date teaching content is also a major byproduct of productive research endeavor. Teach and research has always gone hand-in-hand. Another task of an academic staff is to learn the traits of an administrator. There are many opportunities to make mistakes and to learn. The vocation will allow us many opportunities to interact with various segments of people in the university’s environment. One should be able learn and pick-up the best practices. Though, understandably, this will only happen with the right intention and spirit of self-improvement. Last but not least, an academic staff should serve the communities he/she is in. We must bring add value to the communities. And, in all these elements, a lecturer performance will be evaluated and judged.

   3. The challenges

In order to get promoted up the academic career ladder, one needs to fulfill the basic requirements and have the proper and right credentials. An academic staff will normally be evaluated for promotion on the outcome of his research work. How many publications in Q1 journal have been published? How many citations have one garnered? How much research grants have acquired? How many PhD or MSc students have successfully completed their study under him? What is his academic recognition given by others? These are some basic but pertinent questions. The output or outcome being evaluated needs a number of prerequisites; such as the grant money, post-graduate students, proper research facilities and healthy research eco-system. Basically one needs money for things such as to pay for the new students, to buy components, to rent research equipment, to fabricate the designed system, to travel for conference and meeting attendance and to pay for publication charges. When research grant money “cake” is getting smaller and the success rate of new grant applications is falling, a new or junior academic will perpetually be in a precarious position. Without sufficient funding, no many can move and nothing much can be done, i.e. things which really matter the most. The time spent on teaching also will eat a big chunk from his or her daily working hours. To make matter worse is the non-existent links with the industry and community at large. This put the junior staff in a secluded position away from main-stream academic activities. With the lack of mentoring from senior staff, he will be left to fend for himself. No money, no student, no real research. Hence, no promotion in sight!

   4. The opportunities

With this not so promising background, the life of an academic is still full of opportunities. There is a need to be more assertive and forthcoming in putting forwards one’s intents. The confidence in one’s ability will be a good start. The new academics must be foolish enough to traverse new routes and to create one, if there is none in existence. The road less travelled normally will offer many gains. Though the risks are higher, one will have nothing to lose when one has nothing to start with. The new academic must be bold and goal-driven. The opportunities will be as big as the challenges. In time of crisis, there is opportunity, if only we search and look for it. Good luck my dear academic.

“Life is a journey. Seek the good, do good and good will come to you” 

drrizal 2014 2

Written by : 
Prof. Dr. Mohd Rizal Arshad 
School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering 
email: Alamat emel ini dilindungi dari Spambot. Anda perlu hidupkan JavaScript untuk melihatnya.