Science conference highlights importance of knowledge sharing


Dr Siti Hamisah visiting the booth after launching Estcon 2018 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

Dr Siti Hamisah visiting the booth after launching Estcon 2018 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

THE World Engineering, Science and Technology Congress (Estcon) 2018 came to a successful conclusion at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Wednesday.

Themed “Science, Technology and Humanities: Reinventing the Future”, the biennial congress focused on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0), addressing the latest trends and challenges in embracing the IR 4.0.

Estcon continues to be one of the largest congresses in the world, serving as an avenue for knowledge-sharing, intellectual discourse and networking on areas of scientific and humanities research.

“The role of intellectuals and academics is crucial for humanity to excel in the IR 4.0.

“The public needs to be both educated and technologically aware to support the efforts of research and innovation.

“Education is one of the most important investments a country can make for its people and its future,” said Higher Education director-general Datin Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir, representing Education Minister Datuk Dr Maszlee Malik.

Dr Siti Hamisah pointed out that according to The National Council for Scientific and Research Department, Malaysia needs around 500,000 scientist and engineers by 2020 but there are only 70,000 registered engineers, which is 17% of the total expected figure.

“These are staggering numbers for us at the Education Ministry. Therefore, it is paramount that our nation look towards more programmes and platforms to build interest in technology and engineering in order to rebound from our current position,” she emphasised.

She added that the approach used in teaching and learning must align with the needs of IR 4.0 in order to enhance the nation’s education.

“It is essential to establish the curriculum while taking into consideration the design principles of this era of digitalisation.

“Smartboards and tablets are used as learning aids in futuristic countries. Aside from tools, we also see a revolution in student analytics whereby educators are able to evaluate students’ performance through big data and cyber-system automation.

“As we march into IR 4.0, the major change in teaching technology and analytics is bringing us towards an age where learning becomes more personal and accessible to all,” she said.

Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) vice-chancellor Prof Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Abdul Mutalib, who was also Estcon 2018 organising chairman, emphasised that there is a lot to consider on the concept of Education 4.0 suitable especially for the future generation of students.

“Students have changed. Digital natives walking on the road of disruptive technologies are likely to find online educational tools with artificial intelligence highly appealing,” he added.

The event also saw the signing of an agreement between four Malaysian government-linked universities and five Indonesian institutions of higher learning aimed at forging stronger ties between the government-linked institutions of neighbouring countries.

Over 1,000 visitors from over 40 countries comprising academics, researchers, scientists, engineers, interest groups and industry experts converged at the two-day congress.

The congress featured four keynote speakers who shared insights on reinventing the future in line with IR 4.0.

London Futurists chair and futurist consultancy Delta Wisdom principal Dr David Wood spoke on “Anticipating Successive Waves of Changes as the Fourth Industrial Revolution Accelerates” while Academy of Sciences Malaysia president Prof Datuk Dr Asma Ismail, who is also Universiti Sains Malaysia vice-chancellor, presented a talk entitled “A Road Map for Malaysian Science”.

Talking about the “Standards for Industry 4.0/Smart Manufacturing Challenges and Opportunities” was Sirim Bhd president and group chief executive Prof Dr Ahmad Fadzil Mohamad Hani.

Another notable speaker was social entrepreneur and Grameen Bank founder Prof Muhammad Yunus Nobel Laureate.

Industry-focused conferences covering sectors such as oil and gas, engineering, energy, information sciences, and advanced materials were also held during the two-day event.

Additionally, the congress included forum sessions with 20 plenary speakers and 30 forum panellists to discuss on the advent of IR 4.0 which will change the nature of higher education and how it affects future students.

The Innovation Pitching programme also allowed innovators and inventors to pitch new technologies to potential investors for commercialisation.

ESTCON 2018 was organised by UTP with support from the Education Ministry, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry, Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Sirim Bhd and Yayasan Universiti Teknologi Petronas.