History is in the making for UTAR and Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule (OTH) Regensburg, Germany, after both parties took their collaborations one notch higher through the inking of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at UTAR Perak Campus on 28 May 2014.
Signing on behalf of both universities were UTAR President Ir Prof Academician Dato’ Dr Chuah Hean Teik and OTH Regensburg President Prof Dr Wolfgang Baier. The ceremony was witnessed by UTAR Council Member Hew Fen Yee, UTAR Vice President for R&D and Commercialisation Prof Ir Dr Lee Sze Wei, UTAR Faculty of Engineering and Green Technology (FEGT) Dean Dr Yap Vooi Voon, German National Agency for International Academic Cooperation (DAAD) Director Dr Guido Schnieders, Infineon Technologies (Kulim) Sdn Bhd (IFKM) Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Halm Peter, IFKM Technology Director Tan Soon Keong, OTH Regensburg Faculty of General Sciences and Microsystems Engineering Dean Prof Dr Walter Rieger and academic counsellor Prof Dr Rupert Schreiner, DAAD staff, UTAR staff and students.
“It is an auspicious day because we are having not only one but two functions, which are the signing of the MoU between UTAR and OTH Regensburg and the German Day,” said Prof Chuah in his speech. “We already have credit recognition at undergraduate level from universities in Japan, Korea, France, the United States, and many others. However, this recognition at postgraduate level is the first for UTAR and I would like to take this opportunity to thank OTH Regensburg. With the mutual recognition of credit hours for the International Master’s degree in OTH Regensburg and the Master of Engineering (Electronic Systems) in UTAR, this will further enhance student exchanges and promote inter-cultural learning as well,” elaborated Prof Chuah who also expressed his appreciation to FEGT and OTH Regensburg staff for laying the ground work for the MoU.
Prof Chuah also thanked IFKM for fostering the connection between UTAR and OTH Regensburg, and to DAAD for supporting UTAR through a substantial amount of grant for the university’s academic leadership programme.
Speaking on his first visit to UTAR, Prof Baier said that OTH Regensburg is proud to host German Day in an impressive university like UTAR. He enthralled audience with slides of the panoramic historical town of Regensburg, eventually drawing their attention to one particular landmark which is an old stone bridge. “The bridge is nearly 900 years old and is one of the most famous landmarks in Germany. In the middle age, the bridge played an important role in the economic and cultural development of German. After it was completed, the bridge became a huge boon for the development of the city as it connects not only two shores but also two economic regions,” said Prof Baier. “That is the reason behind me choosing the bridge as a symbol for our cooperation project, which will converge two different cultures from today onwards,” he elaborated. Apart from disclosing the history and milestones of OTH Regensburg, Prof Baier also mentioned that a growing number of OTH Regensburg students are seeking internships abroad, and that the university receives very good rankings in the international student barometer.
The MoU recognises subject credits earned by students of both institutions to facilitate student exchanges for those enrolled in the UTAR Master of Engineering (Electronic Systems) and the OTH Regensburg International Master’s programme. Students enrolled in the UTAR Master of Engineering (Electronic Systems) can apply to study in the OTH Regensburg International Master’s programme as an exchange student, subject to fulfilling the credit and admission requirements prior to transfer. Similarly, students of the OTH Regensburg International Master’s programme can seek to enroll in the UTAR Master of Engineering (Electronic Systems) programme, also subject to fulfilling the credit and admission requirements prior to transfer.
Students of the UTAR Master of Engineering (Electronic Systems) who seek to embark on this exchange must complete at least 70 per cent of the total credit hours at UTAR and at least 30 credits from the curriculum of OTH Regensburg International Master’s programme, not including credits obtained for the Master’s thesis. Students enrolled under this MoU will receive recognition and benefits as regular full-time students of both institutions. Upon completion of the Master’s programme and having fulfilled all the requirements of both institutions, students will be awarded a Master’s degree from both UTAR and OTH Regensburg.
The ceremony concluded with a memento exchange between Prof Chuah and Prof Baier and a group photo-taking session for the VIPs.
The German Day which comprised a booth exhibition and a series of talks on education opportunities in Germany was held later in the afternoon. Dr Schnieders kick-started the talk series with an informative session titled ‘Postgraduate Studies and Research in Germany’.
“Germany is known for its high quality products and a number of high-tech companies with strong local and international presence,” enthused Dr Schnieders who pointed out the country’s track record in research excellence as the main driving force behind its industrial success. “Our emphasis on research and development has led us to offering the Master’s programme only by research and not coursework,” said Dr Schnieders, who also divulged the rising figures of international students in Germany and the list of academic cooperation between German and Malaysian universities. The fact that German universities are wholly funded by state government and large corporations has enabled them to provide world-class education at competitive costs. There are no or near moderate tuition fees for postgraduate studies in Germany.
After Dr Schnieders, Prof Rieger entranced the audience with a descriptive talk titled ‘Introduction to Regensburg’. “Regensburg is a place where history meets future with a strong focus on innovation, high quality life and Italian-like atmosphere. Seated to the north of the Danube River, Regensburg is now home to approximately 150,000 inhabitants, most of whom are employed within the city’s global players and small and medium enterprises,” began Prof Rieger, who went on to showcase sought-after products made in Regensburg and the city’s higher education landscape which comprised mainly the technical university or OTH and the University of Regensburg. He also provided a glimpse of the amenities and achievements of OTH Faculty of General Sciences and Microsystems Engineering before ending his talk with a fascinating picture and tagline on Regensburg which read, ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site: You will fall in love with Regensburg!’
It was the third talk titled ‘Introduction to Master Programme and Student Exchange Programme’ that had students sitting upright. Jointly delivered by Prof Schreiner and FEGT Master of Engineering (Electronic Systems) programme head Dr Teh Peh Chiong, the talk offered elaborate information for students who have registered for the programme, and for those intending to do so. “The duration of the programme is two years and students are required to spend a minimum of five months in OTH Regensburg to be awarded the Master’s degree qualification,” declared Prof Schreiner. The programme also includes a nine-month practical training in one of OTH’s international partner companies in Germany or Malaysia. Prof Teh, on the other hand, stressed on the programme structure and minimum credit hours that must be taken at UTAR before students head to OTH Regensburg and the compulsory subjects for those interested in joining the programme.
For the fourth session, Tan took centre stage with an insightful talk titled ‘University Collaboration: Nurture Future Talent’. “There are several objectives that drive the collaboration between IFKM and local universities,” said Tan, adding, “We collaborate with local universities by way of joint research postgraduate programme, industrial attachment, university-industry partnership, R&D funding and delivery of higher learning education such as PhD to Infineon staff. We want to equip students with relevant skills, knowledge and exposure to ensure smooth and fast transition into industry workplace after graduation. As key industry partner, IFKM has the opportunity to influence the curriculum of universities to ensure that it is up-to-date and relevant to the industry. IFKM can also promote Infineon’s public standing as a leading high-tech frontrunner and an employer of choice.” Tan also spilled the beans on his friendship with Prof Schreiner which led to the establishment of ties between UTAR, IFKM and OTH Regensburg.
Peter ended the day on a high note with his thought-provoking talk titled ‘Zero Defect – Culture or Mission Impossible’. “Zero defect is the ability for each item to fulfill specification and purpose as defined and expected, from the beginning to the end. It aims to reduce waste of time, money, material, capacity, effort, environment, energy, and emotion,” said Peter, who later explained why zero defect is important in the semiconductor industry. “Failure in the semi-conductor industry is termed as the experience of non-fulfilling expectations. There are millions of functions (transistors) and features hidden in most applications. Combination of various influences might lead to failure over time,” claimed Peter, who also maintained that zero defect culture is achievable when everyone adheres to this three-step philosophy: Do it right the first time and every time, anticipate the risk and mitigate it, and prevent the defect rather than correct it.
OTH Regensburg is one of the largest technical universities of Applied Sciences in Bavaria, Germany. It works closely with numerous business enterprises to offer a wide range of research-oriented academic programmes, and is well recognised for its high-quality teaching and research, industrial partnerships and a track record of facilitating inbound and outbound student exchanges through its established and well-connected international office.
Established in 2002 with 411 students, today, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) offers more than 110 programmes in fields including Accountancy, Actuarial Science, Agriculture, Arts, Business and Economics, Creative Industries and Design, Engineering and Built Environment, Information and Communication Technology, Life and Physical Sciences, Mathematics and Process Management, Medicine and Health Sciences, and Social Science and Education to over 23,000 students in its nine faculties, three institutes and three centres located in three Klang Valley campuses in Bandar Sungai Long, Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya and the main campus in Kampar, which was awarded the Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (Malaysian Institute of Architects) gold award in the education category in 2013. The employability of its 33,000 over graduates exceeds 97 percent within six months after graduation. For more information, go to www.utar.edu.my