Competition with strong focus on engineering, computer science
By Karamjit Singh July 19, 2013
- 3rd Innovate Malaysia Design Competition 2013 sees triple the participation from 2012
- Abdul Wahid Omar says govt will support any platform that encourages innovation, creativity
VARIOUS activities are going on nationwide in tandem with the Malaysian government’s focus on building the country’s future competitiveness on the back of innovation and creativity.
In our local universities, many of these centre on engineering and computer science, with the recognition that these two fields will play a key role in the future competitiveness of Malaysia.
One of these activities is the 3rd Innovate Malaysia Design Competition 2013, where engineering and computer science students get to work with world-class technology platforms and high-tech industry tools to gain hands-on industry experience through their final year projects.
The competition was significant enough that it saw Abdul Wahid Omar (pic), the newly minted ex-CEO-turned-technocrat, make his first trip outside Kuala Lumpur to attend the final showcase and prize giving ceremony in Penang on July 4.
After a long career as a successful corporate chieftain at three listed government-linked corporations, Wahid was wooed by the government to lead the Economic Planning Unit as a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department.
“Any platform that encourages innovation and creativity, two areas the government has put great emphasis on under the 10th Malaysia Plan (2011-2015), will be supported by us,” Wahid said, while thanking the industry partners who made it possible.
That would be the likes of Agilent Technologies, Altera, Intel, National Instruments and Silterra, which gave the students engineering kits based on their respective platforms.
Examples of these kits were, Test and Measurements by Agilent, Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) by Altera, Atom chips by Intel, Integrated Circuit by SilTerra, with software support by CEDEC, or Collaborative Microelectronic Design Excellence Centre in USM, and the Embedded Acquisition & Control by National Instruments.
Throughout the competition period between July 2012 and July 2013, participants were guided by their university supervisors and mentored by seasoned engineers from the five industry partners.
The year-long competition saw a record 354 students, triple the number last year, in 183 teams from 20 universities. Fifteen teams made the final, five teams per technology platform.
The strong participation was notable, especially when you consider the fact that this year’s participation was limited to final year students whereas in previous years, third year students could take part as well.
In fact the winner of the Excellence Award, a trio of recent graduates from University Science Malaysia (USM) consisted of a student who took part in his third year and who told Digital News Asia (DNA) that he found the experience helped him really extract more value from his participation this year.
Shidah Ahmad, vice president and general manager at Agilent, noted that from an effectiveness perspective, limiting the competition to final year students only works, as the competition primes students for the real world and “a big part of the lure of this competition is that they get real industry experience.”
They are also mentored by seasoned engineers and get a chance to show their talent and potential to the companies, which are always looking to hire good talent, she added.
Indeed, two of the three team members of the winning team from USM will be starting work with National Instruments and they were also working on its technology platform.
The third team member has accepted a job with a semiconductor company in Singapore. He shied away from answering why he took the offer there but his team mates helpfully answered on his behalf – for the money.
The multi-disciplinary engineering design competition aims to develop industry-relevant technical talent while promoting a culture of continuous innovation.
Talent Corporation Malaysia Bhd (TalentCorp), Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) provided key support to the event, which is managed by Dream Catcher Consulting Sdn Bhd.