It is not every day students get the opportunity to venture abroad, especially through research attachments. Hence, when students from the Faculty of Engineering, Technology and Built Environment were selected to go to NTUT, Taiwan through the Star Trek programme in 2018 and 2019, they were eager and excited to get this once-in-a-lifetime chance.
The students namely Chong Ying Hai, Koh Jia Shun, Ng Weng Mun, Lim Kel Vin and Ngo Kah Lock pursued research projects pertaining to their individual fields in NTUT. All students were from the Mechanical and Mechatronics department except for Koh Jia Shun who was from the Electrical and Electronics department.
All the students except for Chong Ying Hai and Koh Jia Shun worked on the sixth generation ‘Robotic Fish’ project where they sought to mimic real fish through automation in building structures such as underwater surveillance systems. These robotic fish are usually commercialised and used in the entertainment industry. They may also be used by children when they play with fish in aquariums to make their leisure time more interesting,
“This attachment benefitted me in terms of providing me time to learn about Artificial Intelligence and also explore new perspectives of engineering,” said Ng Weng Mun, who claimed that his time abroad was like a ‘dream come true’.
For Lim Kel Vin, the research attachment benefitted him by exposing him to more technologies like SLA and PLA 3D printing and Solidworks simulation like CFD simulation, motion simulation and stress analysis. He said that these technical skills would be helpful for him in the future.
According to Ngo Kah Lock, every student was required to choose a laboratory where they can conduct practical experiments. In NTUT he was assigned to follow up with the biomematic robotic fish project. Through this, he was able to learn the most advanced 3D modelling software called Solidworks. He also got to learn how to build and operate a 3D printer on him own.
“3D printers are modern and rarely used in technologies in Malaysia. Therefore, it was a golden opportunity for me to grow as an engineer considering the future of Malaysia,” said Kah Lock.
Koh Jia Shun’s project, on the other hand, was the ‘self-driving car’ which involves autonomous vehicles and smart car systems using advanced technology such as Computer Vision and Machine Learning, Light Detection and Ranging and the building of a 3D point cloud.
“The research I carried out in NTUT is related to my studies at UCSI in terms of the programming skills. Also courses like Computing in Engineering and Circuit Theory were helpful as I became well-versed in C++ programming and basic electrical knowledge,” said Jia Shun.
Ying Hai’s project was on the development of Home Energy Management Systems (HEMS) for smart homes consisting of multiple energy sources and controllable household loads.
“Artificial Intelligence techniques are applied to perform energy dispatch and load scheduling aiming to minimise the electricity cost and maximise utilisation of renewable energy without compromising the comfort of the household user. This project is in line with SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy, said Ying Hai.
“Since our research in automation is related to Industry 4.0, we are able to combine the knowledge to make better and more efficient machines,” added Ying Hai.
According to deputy dean Ts Dr Lim Wei Hong, the selection process for the research attachment depended on academic performance, extra-curricular activities and characteristics such as persistence and good team work. Dr Lim emphasised the trait of never giving up since not all solutions are black and white and patience is required to uncover certain truths.
Having had this experience abroad has enlightened the students and they are thankful to the Faculty to have given them this opportunity. They learnt a lot from this experience overseas and have gained new perspectives in their studies as well as learnt a thing or two about life in general.