Engineering losing appeal



THE engineering profession needs to be “reinvented” to hold a greater appeal to students who are opting for other career choices, said Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) president Prof Abang Abdullah Abang Ali. 

He said that IEM was trying to recommend to the Engineering Accreditation Council (EAC) that the engineering curriculum be upgraded to include advanced design and technology.  

“Presently, students are not interested in pursuing engineering. This is not just confined to Malaysian students; psychology appears to be the preferred career in the UK (United Kingdom). Hence, we need to reinvent the engineering curriculum to make it more relevant and appealing,'' he added.  

Prof Abang Abdullah said IEM had conducted a study on the engineering education system and visited countries like Germany, Australia and UK to look at their systems. 

“As such we are in a position to say that Malaysia needs to develop a better system,'' said Prof Abang Abdullah in a telephone interview with The Star recently. 

He was responding to Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad's statement on Monday that a revamp in the engineering curriculum was needed to make graduates more marketable. Prof Abang Abdullah concurred that the country's focus should no longer be on the number of engineers produced but on the quality of engineering graduates.  

“The curriculum now does not emphasise research or advanced research. As a result, we (the country) seek the expertise of foreign consultants when it comes to major projects. We should be producing graduates who are capable of advanced design as well,'' said Prof Abang Abdullah who is with Universiti Putra Malaysia. 

He explained that IEM had, since 1999, carried out and published three studies – the first, Formation of Engineering, focused on the changing role of engineers; the second, Malaysian Engineering Education Model, was specifically on the Malaysian engineering curriculum; and the third, Engineering Technology Path, looked at creating a defined pathway for engineering technologists.  

“While the second study looks at the curriculum for engineering degrees, the third one focuses on students that enrol in certificate or diploma courses and do not have a defined career pathway. We are recommending that we develop this pathway so these students can also have a first-rate curriculum which will allow them a proper professional development route so they can, if they want, become a professional engineer too. 

“We also want to create a new undergraduate programme called the Bachelor of Engineering Technology. At the moment, Universiti Kuala Lumpur is offering a similar programme but we want to get all the university colleges to offer it as well,” he said. 

Prof Abang Abdullah added that the Malaysian Council of Engineering Deans at public universities were using the institution's second study as a template for modifications in the curriculum of their respective engineering programmes. 

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