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Steps to Become a Research University

Published by the Counseling and Development Unit, SSSD Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS

Editor’s Note
“Begin with an inspiration and move with a transformation”.


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Rector, only universities that are recognized as able to manage efficiently their main activities and supporting activities (such as infrastructure, finance, human resources, , etc.) will be granted self- accreditation. With it, UTP would be given the trust and responsibility to ensure a guarantee of quality of its own academic programs. In other words, UTP would hold an autonomous power in the design, implementation, monitoring of its academic programs. For a technical university specializing in engineering and technology and with close relation to the petroleum industry, self-accreditation would without a doubt enhance UTP’s commitment towards producing quality graduates.

is transforming. Maybe not

exactly as how the Autobots and Decepticons do it (no, the star-shaped design of the new academic buildings will not appear out of thin air), but to the same degree of importance nonetheless. Improvements can be seen and is sought after in every area possible by UTP’s tireless and forward-thinking administration. Hence we, the students, as recipients of this privilege should honour and uphold our end of the bargain by continually seeking to also transform ourselves to match the high standards not only expected, but required of us. Among the targets UTP has laid out for itself are being a research university, self-accreditation Talent creation is the talk of the town and the and talent creation. IHL community with fluency in science, technology and

As we all know, UTP is relatively young when compared to other Institutions of Higher Learning (IHLs) in Malaysia. With that in mind, it is no wonder why we have not achieved a research university status yet, considering our up-to-par infrastructure and curriculum. However, putting aside age, as it is only an illusion, another factor as to why UTP has not reached this Holy Grail is related to their main clients, the students. The writer, being one himself, admits to have never truly grasped the concept of a research university as the concept itself has never been fully explained to the students. What benefits does a research university have in contrast to a ‘regular’ university and what are the requirements to be one are among the queries puzzling students. If UTP really is determined to ‘upgrade’ its status, then the role of students is a crucial one and the troubles stated above should be addressed first and foremost. Self-accreditation is also on the list of goals and relates to the average student. This is down to the explanation placed upon it by UTP’s administration. It is a welcomed sight to see the statement released by Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Hj Kasim, the man himself, explaining on the upcoming Academic Performance Audit or Institutional Audit conducted by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency that also sheds light on UTP’s quest for self-accreditation by 2014. According to the

innovation stressed; sounds similar to ‘well-roundedness’, right? Basically that is what it is, only just put in a more flashy and commercial arrangement of words. It has always been UTP’s mission to produce well-rounded graduates and the journey still continues as long as UTP remains standing. Among the recent initiatives conducted include the creation of new academic programs, such as the Bachelor of Technology (Hons.) Petroleum Geoscience. UTP also has the longest industrial training among IHLs. Though the stricter requirements can be perceived as a trouble to the students, especially by the students, its all for the betterment of all involved. Transformation is a natural process; a crawling caterpillar becomes a butterfly flying gracefully in the air and small tadpoles become magnificent frogs. However, if not done correctly with the proper planning and implementation, the end result can be far worse than what we begin with. Like how the environment, habitat and time plays a role in the butterfly and frog analogy, we all play a role in ensuring the success of our university’s transformation. With that: UTP-ians, assemble!


Exclusive Interview


n this edition of the Inspirer, we were fortunate to have an exclusive interview with our Rector, Y. Bhg Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin B Hj Kasim. The interview revolved around the university’s Transformation Plan which had recently been implemented. The Transformation Plan aims to transform UTP into a research university by the year 2013. A brief academic background of our beloved Rector; Dr. Zainal Abidin Hj Kasim was a student of Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK), Malaysia and studied for his ‘A’ Levels in Cardiff, United Kingdom from 1971 to 1973 under the MARA Scholarship programme. He received his B.Sc. in Chemistry Polymer Science from Loughborough University of Technology, UK in 1976 and later in 1980 under the PETRONAS sponsorship, his M.Sc. in Petrochemical/Hydrocarbon Chemistry from UMIST, UK. He did his PhD in Aromatisation of LPG using Zeolite Catalysts at the Institut Francais Petrole (IFP) in conjunction with the University of Paris VI. Enjoy the following interview.

What is the transformation of UTP about and why is there a need for such a change? We have been in existence for the last 13 years. Initially we spent most of our time for effort in developing the physical structure and the academic undergraduate programmes and that development was in accordance with the Master Plan meant for the purpose. However, the university needs to be dynamic. Whilst we are proud to produce quality graduates, based on our superior academic performance, it is high time that we now move on towards R&D. hence transforming UTP from not only as a provider of quality graduates but also developing breakthrough technology and aiming itself as a Center of Excellence in R&D and to attain international recognition by the year 2020. Along the way we have targeted ourselves to be recognized as a Research University in the country by 2012. What did you expect from this initiative and what is the final outcome?

When planning out this initiative, we had to take into consideration PETRONAS journey towards being a global champion, the Malaysian higher education strategic direction, the technology development for the future and the way sustainable development should be managed. A team was formed to develop a detailed action plan for UTP’s journey towards world class. In the process, they revisit the current researches, recommended new ones and develop technology roadmaps for all research areas. They also determined the required infrastructure such as office facilities, equipment and reviewed other processes for operational excellence. In the final stage, an effective implementation program was proposed. At the end of the study, a total of five technology roadmaps were proposed and accepted namely Enhancement of Oil Recovery, Deepwater, Carbon Dioxide Management, Green Technology and Nanotechnology.


Exclusive Interview
When will these plans be implemented and who will be the key players? The implementation program is already in place. It is critical for the TP’s (Transformation Plan) success, everyone at UTP has to play aide. The commitment also has to come from the top management. The Rector will drive the overall plan and he will be assisted by the TP Secretariat headed by En. Solihuddin bin Ahmad Nasaruddin, UTP’s Registrar. The themes have been identified and each one will be championed by a member of the Senior Management and they are; What are the key successes of this transformation plan? One of the key success factors of a university is the quality of the graduates produced whilst UTP and its management has and will continue to provide their best in nurturing the students, the latter must also play their role well. Undergraduate students should continue to strive for excellence in the academic performance as well as building the right qualities through co-curricular activities to ensure they are well demanded upon graduation. Postgraduate students must have passion to drive and sustain the research they are carrying out. Their findings should be published in well known journals that would help boost our universities standing in R&D.

Leadership Champion: Prof Ir Dr Ahmad Fadzil Mohamad Hani Competency Champion: AP Dr. Hilmi Mukhtar Research Culture Champion: Tn. Hj. Mohd Noor Rosli Baharom Research Performance Champion: AP Dr. A Rashid A Aziz

Each of the champions will be assisted by a Functional Manager and a few Change Agents. The Research Enterprise Office is now called Research and Innovation to reflect its expanded role. The Research Leaders who are responsible to drive each of the focused areas will report to this office. What are the challenges do you expect in implementing this transformation? UTP can be considered as a fairly new university having established about 13 years ago. One of the main challenges is to recruit and retain experienced academic staff to lead researches and to mentor the younger ones. The current staff has carried out the functions well and we hope to attract more. In the meantime about 70 percent of our staff are pursuing their postgraduate studies locally and overseas. Another challenge is limited funds. We cannot be too dependent on our parent company. Efforts are being taken to collaborate with external parties in research. To carry out credible research one needs quality postgraduate students. We anticipate about 1200 postgraduate students in two years time to carry out research in the area we have focused on. Whilst it is not difficult to attract overseas students, the challenge remains winning local students so that the knowledge and experience will remain in the country. I hope more UTP graduates would stay on to further their studies.

What is your personal transformation plan?





This is not an ordinary change but a transformation one. Five technology roadmaps were accepted for implementation, with it other potential areas were identified. Some of these are meant to support PETRONAS’s journey towards global championship whilst other are related to sustainable development. Its implementation requires the commitment at all levels. I hope all the staff and students will support this initiative undividedly and to play their respective role effectively. The success of the university lies on all of us. I would like to see our aspiration to be recognized as a research university in the country be a reality by 2013 and as a world renowned centre of excellence by 2020. This calls for creating a centre of excellence encompassing a positive mindset. We must have a sense of urgency to transform if we are to achieve our aspirations.



The Observer

n a few years to come UTP envisions to become one of the most prominent research universities in the world. A transformational plan has been put to work under a very hardworking steering committee consisting of lecturers and staffs. This committee has been proposing and monitoring changes needed in critical areas such as work values, programme syllabus and facilities for the past few months. They have a tight schedule to raise the quality of this university to international standards. Some might think that, it is the university that is changing and is of no concern to the students. Sadly, they are wrong. The transformation that UTP is undertaking now is a major signal indicating that students should be adaptable to the changes proposed along with it. Those who cannot cope will be left behind while the rest will push forward, advancing together with the university. The change is also showing the determination of the management to increase the quantity of quality students on par with the mission and vision of the university.


The most important thing is students too need to transform as rapid as the university itself. We would not want multi-million dollar facilities but a timid human capital. Only parallel advancement in both areas will bring us to the vision of becoming a leading university in engineering and technology. Advancement in human capital refers to the development of students in areas such as competency level, soft skills, technical skills, and strong basic fundamentals. These are things that define what students should do to transform themselves too. The success of all the changes brought forth, will only be determined by looking at the success of the students. This shows that student is the driving force in this transition phase to become a well-known research university. In order to run parallel with the transformation plan, there are two omnipotent steps that should be taken not just for the graduating final year students, but by all students in general. The first important step is to embrace a paradigm shift in viewing academic matters as crucial and top priority. Right now, most of us are more concern with grades that later can never reflect how strong the knowledge and skill acquired to obtain such grades. Some are proud of getting high scores but behind it there is a huge scam of plagiarism. We need to change this view to a more effort-based and not result-based perspective.


The Observer
Grades does not really matter. The most important thing is to view academic session as a platform to attain knowledge and skills to the maximum. Meaning to say that, we are willing to take proactive steps in wanting to know everything even though exceeding the syllabus set for us. This desire of information is the thing that will drive a life-long learning attitude among students which is much needed in future career development. Thus, those who do not learn will be losing out to those who do not care about grades but are thirsty for knowledge. Students must embody the attitude of striving for the best. In any work and task, we must do our best to make it worthy of our reputation and pride. This is because in whatever that we do, it reflects our self-image. The greatness that we achieve in our work will not only bring satisfaction but most importantly, we are able to learn more things along the way. This also brings us to the idea of being professional in our work so that it will be of a great quality and distinguishable from others. Leave plagiarism away as it only taints our efforts and could hinder further exploration of knowledge if not unethical. We must also seek every opportunity for us to know more so that we become really good at what we do. In reality, both steps need personal realization and a strong desire to be excellent. Stephen Covey in his book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, mentioned that creating and implementing anew habit is not easy. Thus, we must be really determined to sweat ourselves and make use of our lives in this university to the fullest. In the west, they are already at top notch in facility advancement as well as human development too. To surpass them, we must strive even better and it all begins with the success of UTP students to adapt with the changing university and the changing world too.

Nonetheless, some will argue that life in university is not just about studying. We need to expose ourselves to things that cannot be learnt from class such as teamwork, professionalism and management skills. This is true in a sense but we also cannot run away from the fact that we will later work in a highly specialised field be it engineering or technology. These specialised fields need specialised knowledge and even more than that when we include the fact that those fields are also changing from time to time. In the end, we have to go back to the basic understanding that we gained from the lessons in university. At that moment, then we will start to regret not understanding well our studies in our university lives. Therefore, in a long term career investment, investing in skills and knowledge brings more benefit than those "non-classroom values". The second step is to apply the new paradigm into efforts to achieve it; attitude change. Personal mission without the embodiment through actions and will power will fade. Thus, to survive along with the changing university and the world, we should start to change our attitudes. We always have this saying, ‘First world facility, but third world mentality’. Ultimately, this statement will remain valid until we change our behaviour to accompany the structural advantages that we have. In terms of facility, inarguably UTP is well equipped at every department but we have much more to do in terms of human resource.

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Covey, Stephen R., The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


Motivation Interview Articles


Motivation Interview Articles

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Fire A cold A nose A match Towel Darkness Stars An Onion A secret

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What has fingers but can't type? What has ears but can't hear?

What has a mouth but never smiles? What has a face but no head? What has leaves but isn't a tree? What has eyes but can't see? What has legs but can't walk?

What has arms but can't hug?

What has a head and a foot but no body? When is a car not a car?

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Firstly, I am very grateful to be given this golden opportunity to share about me and my valuable life experience with my beloved UTP community. 5 years of experience being an undergraduate in UTP had enriched me with various life experiences and vast knowledge. It turned me into a wiser and marketable person in the outside world today. I’m very proud to proclaim as a UTP student as UTP is a one of the best engineering university in its class. UTP offers world-class quality education with sophisticated facilities and best lectures from worldwide. This conducive learning environment had assisted me to excel in my academics, as I was able to maintain a first class honor degree results. To keep a good balance between curricular and co-curricular I also have participated in many activities and hold many positions in both university organizations and external organizations. Such as the position of Director of Promotion & Publication, Secretary, Facilitator of PETRONAS PEMADAM program, Rotaract Interact Conference Group Discussion Leader, Bhangra dancer, Indian Orchestra Musician and 21 km marathon athlete representing Malaysia and PETRONAS in Austria. my internship period, both of these projects were successfully completed. These projects trained me well in becoming a good project leader and it also helped to build my confidence level to not give up easily to any challenges faced in life. Adapting to new lifestyle and new working environment was a very demanding issue during the initial period of the internship period. Such as adapting to their language (Deutsch), the 4 seasonal climates, the food, the rules and regulations of the country, the living style and office working styles. These issues had lead me to lots challenges in the early days, such as in dealing with people or making new friends and even to purchase groceries from stores, since Deutsch is the officially spoken language and English is rarely used. However, with the assistance from my office colleagues and hostel mates, I was able to pick up some basic Deutsch, which was good enough for me to survive in the community for the first few months till I could adapt myself fully to the environment.

One of the most memorable period throughout my 5 years of undergraduate is my 6 months internship program in BRP-Powertrain (ROTAX), Gunskirchen, AUSTRIA. My internship had taught me lots of lessons about life and interpersonal skills that highly required to be a successful figure in future. I was among the first batch to be selected to undergo industrial training in this company. Briefly about my intern company, BRP-Powertrain is an international market leading company in the development and production of 4-stroke and advanced 2-stroke ROTAX engines. Throughout my internship period, I was assigned with two major projects, which were the Absorber Project and FORTRAN Project. Both these projects were very challenging since they require good background knowledge in engine testing and troubleshooting, which I did not acquire in university. Absorber Project was a troubleshooting and designing project and FORTRAN Project was test bench data analyzing software troubleshooting project. I belief that nothing is impossible in this world as long as required effort and interest is placed in the particular job done. Hence, with this belief and by being positive, I accepted both these projects as a project leader and carried out them with supervision from my supervisor. At the end of



Besides that, dealing with the European working lifestyle was one of my major issue that I find challenging to deal with in the early days. In this Completely dedicated to improve your company, every job is done very systematically, English efficiently and by following fully the rules and regulations strictly. Even, their expectations on interns was high as they expect us to perform outstandingly by being creative and innovative besides complying strictly to the time constraints set. This was quite of a demanding challenge, as I had to apply my fullest in  A state of dreamy meditation or fanciful musing. getting jobs done to meet the management demands. She is lost in reverie. These hardships have trained me to be a very flexible and adaptable person and I belief this experience will  A daydream. help me to survive in any country that I will visit for courier purposes or personal reasons in future. I would  A fantastic, visionary, or impractical idea. like to take this opportunity to thank the PETRONAS team in the host-company and my friends who was very They are reveries that will never come to caring and provided me with great hospitability to fruition. undergo this adapting process smoothly.


 An instrumental composition of a vague and dreamy character. As a conclusion, I had the most memorable and life enriching period by being 5 years in UTP. I belief I had developed well academically and non-academically with the full assistance from the lectures, UTP community, my friends and with all the learning opportunities awarded to me throughout this period. I  To gain or supplement with great effort or would proudly say UTP is the reason that caused me to difficulty. be what I am today, as a well-rounded person. For this, He eked out an income by working two jobs I would like to convey my heartiest gratitude to our honorable Datuk Dr. Zainal Abidin Hj Kasim and the UTP management for their great leadership in producing  To increase or make last by being economical. well-rounded students and in making UTP as one of the best engineering university in this region. I would like to apologize for any of my shortcomings throughout my 5 years of journey in UTP. Best wishes to all my friends in UTP for the upcoming and challenges waiting ahead. ‘Be positive, think positive and u will see positive  Evenness of mind; steadiness of mind under stress; calmness; composure. results’.



For one whose mind has been notoriously troubled, Brian Lara is at least retaining a sense of equanimity. He accepted their problems with composure and she with equanimity.

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By: Siti Sara Lyana Binti Badly Sham 3rd Year 1st Semester Student -CVE

The university is undergoing a transformation from a Teaching-University to a Research University. This transformation demands the surrounding population to be able to adapt and walk along the same phase of the transformation. The university has done great effort by providing a larger quota for postgraduate studies, open up research-industry relationship and many more. Students should grab this challenge and contribute to the university. Consideration on pursuing the postgraduate studies should be made. No longer be the second choice of students after failing to be employed upon graduation, now Postgraduate Studies need to be treated as a medium for those who possess real passion for knowledge. In this edition, The Inspirer exposes the readers to few basic steps to start a research.

Readings need guidance or else you might end up having the wrong message to take home. Refer to experts for explanation and start a discussion which will help in developing your research credibility. It is even better if you could have the explanation from the researcher himself on the thesis. Going for various research papers or thesis presentation will be very helpful. For better learning, actively ask questions or give feedbacks and take note of the information resources mentioned for future references.

Be Familiar with Research Papers
Reading is the way to make a research paper familiar to you. There are vast difference in reading a text book and reading a research paper. Text book usually provides readers with important points to be given attention and explanation is provided for better understandings. On the other side, research paper requires readers to be skilled enough in extracting the information from the research paper. Besides, readers should be thinking critically while reading. They should ask questions such as “Is this findings applicable?”, “What improvement could be done to make it better?”, “Can the research be extended?” and others. This practice will help readers in working on their own research paper in the future.

Have the Right Attitude
Everything starts from you. Eventhough you are technically skilled, it doesn’t promise you a good ending of research. Develop a positive attitude throughout the research. This is vitally important to keep the focus on the research from being distracted by any obstacle. Sometimes students might experience self-doubt which may lead them to quit on the research. Be proactive, stay focus and love what you do. Have in mind that great passion produces great work.

Communicate with Your Work
Research process has to run simultaneously with the writing of the research paper. This is the way to communicate with your work where you have to enjoy on what you are doing. When you start to sit down and concentrate on the writing, you will get into deep thinking and you will discover the lack in the research and think f o r improvement. Writing do not only act as a check and balance to the research but it is also acting as a driving force to keep the momentum of whole process is at its correct phase. Have passion in your writings as it is what you plan to share with others. Well, even the greatest ideas

A Pen and Notebook as Your Best Friends
Humans easily forget and researchers are not being excluded. Having a pen and a notebook is essential in keeping the research-related items for regular review purpose. You should also consider having them at all time with you to note down important points or ideas which might come and disappear in a blink of eyes.

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