Taylor’s University aims to prepare students for an XR world with 2 new programs

  • Over 50% jobs for technology professionals will come from non-tech firms
  • Merging of IOT, 3D printing, biological gene sequencing, AI will shape future

(L to R) Dr Soon Lam Tatt, Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture, Building and Design; Dr Charles Sharma Naidu, Director of VORTEX XR Lab; Din Tan Chin Seng, Programme Director of the Bachelor of Interactive Spatial Design (Honours); Dr Pouline Koh Chai Lin, Head of School for The Design School; Professor Dr David Asirvatham, Executive Dean, Faculty of Innovation and Technology; Dr Sujatavani Gunasagaran, Programme Director of the Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Sustainable Digital Construction Management; Associate Professor Dr Veronica Ng, Head of School for the School of Architecture, Building and Design and Faisal Athar Mohd Fadzil, XR Specialist of VORTEX XR Lab.

For parents worried about all this talk of AI and technology disrupting existing careers and extinguishing some, even, Taylor’s University wants you to know that they hear you.

“A lot of parents would send their kids to the more traditional programmes like engineering and medical, and we are trying to break this mold as the future is not just about having just doctors and engineers, we need people in new different areas, otherwise Malaysia will have some issues achieving the digital economy,” said Professor Dr David Asirvatham, Executive Dean at Taylor’s University Faculty of Innovation & Technology.

“According to Market Research Future, the XR (extended reality) market globally was valued at US$27 billion (RM116.2 billion) in 2018, and is expected to reach US$393 billion (RM1.6 trillion) by 2025,” said David, adding, “That’s a huge leap!” XR is the term used to describe the mix of Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality.

“Furthermore, If you look at the job market, traditionally most of the tech talent/professionals are hired by tech companies, however today, the data shows that more than 50% of the jobs for technology professionals are from non-tech companies, like healthcare, consulting companies, banks, etc” he added. 

This is backed by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC) forecast that the demand for tech talent in Malaysia will rise at a compound annual growth rate of 7.59% over the next three years.

In anticipation, Taylor’s, building on its RM1.2 million Vortex XR Lab (Virtual Online Future Technology & Extended Reality), launched last Aug, has introduced two new XR infused programmes, Bachelor of Interactive Spatial Design (Honours) and Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Sustainable Digital Construction Management, in response to higher demand for tech talent in the construction and environment industries that need to leverage on XR skills. 

Speaking at the launch last month, David said, “These programs focus on IR4, as well as Smart Society 5.0, thus technologies such as 3D printing, XR technology, advanced materials, AI, automation, etc are integrated into the curriculum.”

Producing talent capable of creating immersive simulated environments

Unlike your conventional Bachelor in Spatial Design, the Taylor’s version also includes immersive XR technology and automation content for indoor and outdoor environments. 

It offers two specializations, Smart Homes Design and Smart Environment Design; the former involves students learning how to design smart living spaces that are personalized to individual needs and living styles, while the latter changes the way people interact with products.

This programme focuses on producing designers, technologists, and entrepreneurs digitally-design capable of creating immersive simulated environments, like architecture, urban spaces, performances, events, museums, and more.

VORTEX XR Lab crew member demonstrating real time environment scanning around Taylor’s Lakeside Campus using a Matterport, and how it captures and connects spaces recreating interactive 3D construction sites.

“Interactive space has now become a popular marketing tool that businesses use to engage their customers,” said Din Tan Chin Seng, the Programme Director of the Bachelor of Interactive Spatial Design.

“The design market size is expected to gain market growth with a compound annual growth rate of 7.9% reaching roughly 214 million by 2025. Therefore, there is a growing demand for spatial designers with the ability to design with interaction and space in mind,” Din added.

As for Sustainable Digital Construction Management, it aims to prepare graduates in addressing the challenges of sustainability and digitization in the construction industry.

“Construction management key constraints are time, cost and quality; technology enables us to save time and cost by achieving quality standards while saving the environment,” Dr Sujatavani Gunasagaran, Programme Director of the Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Digital Construction Management said. 

Like Interactive Spatial Design, the programme introduces two specializations, Green Construction and Smart Construction; the former strives for energy conservation, waste reduction, and recycling, while the latter utilizes technology to improve construction management via IoT, Advanced Building Information Modeling (BIM), and XR.

Sujatavani believes that XR technology can help the construction sector save time and cost by achieving quality standards while saving the environment.

[Ed: Caption has been edited for accuracy.]

Furthermore, these specializations are lined-up with the Construction 4.0 Strategic Plan 2021-2025 by the Construction Industry Development Board, as green businesses will factor around 1.5% or RM60 billion in GDP by 2030.

In the final year both programmes offer two learning track options, conventional internship or a year-long work-based learning with various industry partners.

For Interactive Spatial Design, Ministry XR, a company that specializes in VR, AR, and MR experiences is among the industry partners. 

At the launch, Ministry XR demonstrated a Hololens device that simulates a mixed reality environment, where it projects a digital interface and objects onto the real-world environment, to which users can also see and manipulate in real-time.

Other industry partners include FrameMotion Studio Sdn Bhd, Virtual X Malaysia Sdn Bhd, HONOR Malaysia, and IMT Smart Home Sdn Bhd.

All schools in Taylor’s to utilise XR to teach content creation, ideation, and design

Interestingly, the two new programs also offer a third option, technopreneurship, which allows students the opportunity to start their own business with the help of Taylor’s start-up incubator, Bizpod. Thus, students can create their own jobs instead of just being employed.

For Sustainable Digital Construction Management, partners like Eco World Development Group Berhad and Green Quarter Sdn Bhd, ensure students gain practical experience relating to environment and construction.

However, it's not just these programmes that will utilize immersive technologies. All of Taylor’s schools like hospitality, design, law, communication, medicine, culinary arts, etc will be utilizing XR to teach content creation, ideation, and design.

“An example of this is a VR headset and a platform called Zero Density, where you create a 360-environment that interacts with the space itself. Culinary arts is one example; interacting with utensils in the kitchen itself,” said Dr Pouline Koh, Head of School, The Design School, Faculty of Innovation and Technology.

Taylor’s University aims to prepare students for an XR world with 2 new programsTo illustrate the power of XR, a demonstration at the Vortex Lab showcased the capabilities of XR technology with a pair of hololens, an app, and a greenscreen area. “This particular application is basically a game that utilizes the space and experiences that change around it depending on what space you use,” said Faisal Athar (pic, left), XR Specialist at the lab. 

This would provide new experiences to the students, but it also creates a challenge regarding how environments are designed. “We need a new batch of designers because we used to design on the screen, now we need to design content with many considerations in mind,” Din explained.

Clearly the world of XR, while exciting, is equally challenging for those developing the new environments to take advantage of the powerful tools that have made it easier than ever to transfer our imagination to exciting new environments. Programs like the ones launched by Taylor’s are important bridges to cross over from the current 2D world to the XR world.

The transition was already anticipated by the Malaysian government back in 2015, where according to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry 2015 foresight initiative report, “merging technologies such as IOT, 3d printing, biological gene sequencing, and AI are all areas that will shape the future of the young generation and also make Malaysia more competitive in the years to come,” David shared. Taylor’s plans to be at the forefront of helping shape this competitive and digitally’s savvy Malaysia.


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