Malaysian Students Technology Conference 2017 : Advancing 4th-ward

On the 12th and 13th of August, Young Malaysian Engineers – UK had successfully organized their main flagship event, the Malaysian Students’ Technology Conference at the Odyssey, Mercu UEM. Since this year’s theme is focused on the 4th Industrial Revolution, the conference had covered a wide range of topics within the scope of entrepreneurship, social, environment and corporate. Designed to enable participants to gain better insights on the local challenges faced in Malaysia, the conference is also hoped to give participants the opportunity to network with key leaders in the industry.

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The event started at 9.30am with a welcoming Speech by Ganesh Pramod, Coordinator of MSTC 2017, followed by the launching of YME-MY recruitment by Faizul Zuraimi, Founder of

YME-UK. Then at 9.45am, the opening ceremony was officiated by Mr. Norhizam bin Abdul Kadir, Vice President (Growth Ecosystem Development) of Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), who gave the keynote address regarding the Digital Economy of Malaysia.

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The first panel, Future of Jobs started at 10.45am. The panelists featured were Ms Mona Abu Bakar from United Engineers Malaysia Berhad (UEM), Mr. Jared Chan from Gamuda Berhad, Ir. Dr. Cheong Thiam Fook from Institute of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) and Mr. Norhizam bin Abdul Kadir from Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). The panel was moderated by none other than YME’s President, Marcus Lee. In this panel, the panelists discussed on three main keypoints, which were Drivers of Change, Emerging Roles and Talent Shift, and Future Workforce Strategy. For Drivers of Change, the panelists talked about companies being responsible of innovating themselves socially, as well as the increasing need to use technology to empower their staff to be part of the problem solving and decision making process. One of today’s challenges is that CEOs and CFOs of companies are old and not exposed to the digital world, although technology is rapidly evolving even in developing nations. The other challenge is the strain on resources and the competition for jobs in the market, especially amongst fresh graduates. For example, Gamuda is currently looking for people who are willing to do 3D jobs (difficult, dangerous, dirty).

For the second point, Emerging Roles and Talent Shift, it was discussed that enrollments of students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related courses are declining in Malaysia. As an example, the eAspirasi programme has admitted excellent students from the best colleges in Malaysia but found that few wanted to be in the IT sector. This is due to two factors, one being the fact that Asian parents do not encourage entrepreneurship, and the other is the weakness in our current education system. In regards to internships, the panelists stated that internships are like a test drive, and they work both ways. For the intern, it is to see if the job is suitable for his/her skills and aptitude. For the company, it is to see if the intern is a suitable employee. However, it is good to note that jobs won’t disappear, but they would change and reform. To solve these challenges, both companies and future workers have a role to play. Companies should create a conducive ecosystem to adapt to these drastic changes. As for future workers, rediscover your passions and interests and make yourself relevant to IT. Join a youth organisation or the United Nations to learn skills and get connected.

The third point is Future Workforce Strategy, in which the panelists reiterated that fresh graduates need to adapt to a completely changed environment, accept responsibility for their mistakes, and learn as much as possible from the environment. One panelist said that you will use 100% of what you learnt in university but the hard part is connecting the relevancy of what you learnt to what you do in your job. In searching for jobs, the Human Resource Department is a very good source of information as to how a company works. This is quite crucial as fresh graduates tend to neglect HR.

After the first panel has ended, presentations were given by MSTC Sponsors which are UEM Berhad and SEA group Berhad. Then at 12.00pm, the Corporate Luncheon session commenced, which featured Participant CVs being pre-screened by companies and the selection of a few participants to be seated at allocated tables with company representatives. Concurrently, an Engineering Career Path Exhibition by IEM was organized in the hall.

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The day continued with Panel 2 : Renewable Energy and Sustainability Development, which started at 2.10pm. The panelists were Mr. Gurmit Singh from Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia (CETDEM), Dr. Mazlan Abbas which is the CEO and Founder of Favoriot and Ir. Dr. Aidil Chee Tahir from Institute of Engineers Malaysia (IEM). The moderator for this panel is YME’s Director of Social and Environmental Movement, Kartika Abdul Ghafar. The panelists talked about two main keypoints, which is the state of Malaysia’s Renewable Energy and Internet of Things.

The panelists stated that the development of Renewable Energy in Malaysia only began in 1998 due to us being an oil exporting country. Generally, Malaysians would relate energy to electricity but in reality, energy has four different forms which are motion, light, heat and sound. It was also stated that renewable energy directly correlates to energy efficiency. Fortunately, Malaysia has the Green Building Index (GBI), which is the industry’s recognised green rating tool for buildings to promote sustainability in the built environment and improve energy efficiency. For example, 1kWh of electricity is equivalent to 1kg of CO2, and 1 litre of petrol is equal to 2.5kg CO2.

The challenges in developing sustainable energy includes the fact that contrary to popular belief, large hydropower is not renewable as it displaces a lot of people and creates environmental problems. In addition, there is a pressing need to develop second generation biofuels in the country as palm oil biofuel is not sustainable. This is because the trees are grown in peat soil, which releases CO2. In regards to solar energy, we are still importing the technology of photovoltaic cells from abroad, hence the need for local technology. As for wind energy, it is not feasible in our country as we do not have a wind bend.

Malaysia still has a long way to go in terms of technology transfer and absorption. Mr Gurmit Singh stressed that we need to start tackling the low hanging fruit, which in this case is energy efficiency. Often people look towards importing more and more new and foreign technology but tend to overlook improvements and optimisations that can be made for existing technologies. Another issue is that import of foreign technology is not suited to our local environment and local talent. Therefore, the maintenance of these technologiesis  very difficult. In regards to job opportunities in Environmental Management, Gurmit Singh stated that the Environmental Engineers need to have a broad set of skills, and be proficient in monitoring and evaluation.

As for Internet of Things, the panelists defined it as the third wave of the internet after desktop and mobile internet. For example, cars can become autonomous and cities can be made safer, cleaner and more secure. To date, Singapore is the best smart city in the world because it is implemented through the eyes of the citizens. A simple start to developing a smart city would be introducing a mobile app for citizens to report issues. From a survey, it is found that 30% of traffic congestion in cities is caused by people finding a place to park. Using IoT, a smart city can guide cars to available parking spaces. It is important to note that implementation of new technology must take into account the human aspect, and the public must be educated and their trust gained. To illustrate, people have become slaves to their cars, forgetting that the purpose of having a car is to have accessibility, not mobility.

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To end the first day, Mr. Imtyaz Mohd Azzat, Senior Manager of Market Development of General Electric Malaysia (GE) gave a talk on the Age of the Industrial Internet, which started at 4.15pm. In his talk, he defined the term “Industrial Internet”, which essentially means to collect the right information and making use of it. In today’s world, it is very difficult to progress with technology alone. Gathering the information these machines produce, processing it and analysing it makes them more efficient and reduces downtime. He also mentioned Wind Farms, in which IoT can be used to optimise electricity generation and the data generated can be used to create digital models. As for Aircraft development, GE is currently the largest jet engine producer in the world. 10% of all aircraft delays worldwide are due to unplanned downtime, costing US$8 billion a year. To solve this problem, sensors in jet enginers compile data to create a digital twin, which is compared to another model to easily troubleshoot issues. In regards to Trains and Locomotives, the machines still depend on the tracks beneath them, which undergo wear and tear. Hence, locomotives are fitted with sensors to monitor the condition of the tracks. To improve the Healthcare sector, GE is attempting to connect the online healthcare database to allow machines to diagnose medical issues independent of human intervention. He also talked about the Oil and Gas industry, in which he mentioned that remote monitoring and diagnosis centre in KL Sentral monitors the condition of motors, oil rigs, power generation equipment to optimise maintenance and identify problems before they happen.

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The second day started with Panel 3 : The Platform Revolution, in which the panelists were Mr. Christopher Tock, Founder of SocialGrooves.com, Mr. Charles Sugiarto, the Technology Delivery Lead Senior Manager of Accenture and Mr. Yeoh Chen Chow, Co-Founder of Fave. The term “Platform Revolution” essentially means to revamp the pipeline business to platform business. To define, pipeline businesses create value by controlling a linear series of activities—the classic value-chain model. Inputs at one end of the chain (say, materials from suppliers) undergo a series of steps that transform them into an output that’s worth more: the finished product. On the other hand, platform businesses create value by facilitating interactions between external producers and consumers.  In this session, the panelists highlighted three major points which are Challenges of the Platform Revolution, Importance of Data Analytics and Digital Monopolies.

For Challenges of the Platform Revolution, the panelists talked about how Apple turned the tables back in 2007 and rapidly dominating the industry. Apple overran the incumbents by exploiting the power of platforms, hence conceived the iPhone and its operating system as more than a product or a conduit for services. Apple imagined the iPhone as a way to connect participants in two-sided markets—app developers on one side and app users on the other, hence generating value for both groups. In addition, they also explained that there is a continuing mainframe of technological development. From the olden days of clientserver/PC and e-commerce (apparently that’s old now!), we are now moving towards Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. The main takeaway is that for any business to flourish, you must design the technology/product/service to be easier, cheaper, better and faster all-around.

For the second point, Importance of Data Analytics, the panelists stated that data is highly needed in order to analyse a company’s worth, determine the valuability of the companies’ products/services and enable the multiplying of revenues and profits. In fact, there is a high demand for data scientists in the near future, hence everyone must be equipped with knowledge on IT. For the last point which is Digital Monopolies, the panelists discussed on the occurrence of digital monopolies due to the network effect (a phenomenon in which an increase in number of users would increase the value of the service). Apparently, digital monopolies are near impossible as there would always be another company that can overtake the most powerful company, especially in the tech industry. Companies must also always be aware of the needs and wants of their target market. As an example, GO-JEK, an Indonesian hyperlocal transport, logistics and payments startup is currently booming ever since founded in 2010, as the service has met the demand of Indonesians. Job opportunities would also increase for lawyers interested in Digital IP rights and Data Protection Acts.

The key takeaways from this session is that new generations of leaders must be willing to embrace disruptive technologies to stay ahead of the game. Furthermore, design thinking approach helps to keep the focus of technology and innovation to people and there must be greater emphasis on skills around ideation, analysis, experimentation and communication. Finally, the young generation must also gain knowledge on finance and business as it will be critical for new IT users.

After the panel ended, a Poladrone Demonstration Session was conducted at 11.10am. Heading the demonstration was Mr. Cheong Jin Xi, Founder & CEO of Poladrone and Mr. How Yong Guan, Co-Founder & CTO of Poladrone. The demonstration included multi-rotor drones, fixed wing drones and quadcopters (the most popular drone in the market). Applications of drones include (but not restricted to) surveying, security, photography, search and rescue and transport (for e-commerce).

The day then continued with a Social Media marketing session by Mr. Christopher Tock, founder of SocialGrooves.com.

MSTC ended with a Closing Keynote Speech by our honourable guest, Ir. Tan Yean Chin which is the  CEO of G&P Geotechnics Sdn Bhd & President of Institute of Engineers Malaysia (IEM). Speaking about Challenges faced by Malaysian Graduates – 4th Industrial Revolution, he mentioned several important points including the competitive advantages of fresh graduates, at which 39% would be for those with a leadership position, 25% would be for those who have high academic scores and 20% for those who are active in extra-curricular activities. He reiterated several times that it’s highly important for students to “understand” their course material and not just “memorise” the textbooks, as Malaysians have a tendency to do. Summarising his talk, he stated the top 10 skills required by fresh graduates by 2020 includes complex problem solving, critical thinking, people management, emotional intelligence and etc.

In conclusion, MSTC 2017 was definitely super informative and highlighted the recent developments in the digital world and tech industry, at the same time reminding the participants on the need to remain sustainable. For burgeoning fresh graduates, it is always wonderful to gain knowledge and awareness to better carve future career pathways and I do believe MSTC 2017 has succeeded in doing that. Exemplifying the famous quote “A journey of a thousand miles begin with the first step”, it is hoped that MSTC would be the first of many steps towards a greater and global-minded nation.

 

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