Kuala Lumpur, 19 Jan 2016 – The signing and exchanging of a memorandum of agreement (MoA) document, involving a research collaboration between the Advanced Institute of Industrial Technology (AIIT), Japan and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) was held at the Chancellery Meeting Room, Menara Razak, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Kuala Lumpur, this morning. UTM was represented by UTM Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Datuk Ir. Dr. Wahid Omar and AIIT President, Prof. Dr. Shintaro Ishijima, who is also Chairman of the Asia Professional Education Network (APEN).

AIIT is a public graduate school established in Tokyo, Japan which aims to develop advanced professionals in industrial development. It is governed by the Public University Corporation Tokyo Metropolitan University, and offers coursework and research on the theories and applications in industrial development through two industrial technology graduate programs, namely, Master of Technology in Information Systems and Master of Technology in Innovation for Design and Engineering.

AIIT is the secretariat of APEN, an educational platform established in June 2011 that links various universities, academic institutions, public companies and private companies, financial entities as well as small and medium enterprises in Asia. APEN conducts research and development of education systems in developing specialised experts who play major roles in leading Asian industry development. APEN covers all ASEAN member states as well as China, India, Japan and Korea, with the mission of contributing to sustainable and equitable development for Asian economies through projects funded via the collaboration of the APEN-Japan ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).

According to Prof. Datuk Ir. Dr. Wahid, this collaboration is very much in line with the mission of UTM to become a leader in the development of human capital and innovative technologies that will contribute to the nation’s wealth creation. As a leading innovation-driven entrepreneurial research university in engineering science and technology, this collaboration is also in line with UTM’s vision to become a world-class centre of academic and technological excellence. UTM, which is now ranked 100th in the field of Engineering and Technology by the 2015/2016 QS World University Rankings, is the only university in Malaysia participating in this APEN-JAIF project initiative, championed by UTM Razak School of Engineering and Advanced Technology (UTM Razak School).

The APEN-JAIF collaboration is a two-year project, comprising the development of a (i) Professional Education System (Multiversity) and a (ii) Credibility Index for Small and Medium Enterprises (CIS), led by Dr Habibah @ Norehan Hj. Haron and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Roslizar Mat Ali, both from UTM Razak School, respectively. Each project is aimed at producing professional industrial human resource and enhancing competitiveness of small and medium enterprises in the ASEAN region through the involvement of ASEAN APEN members. This collaboration aims to expedite economic integration, create a more equitable economic development and narrow the economic gap amongst the ASEAN member states.

Multiversity is a new comprehensive professional school system with coherent and consistent engineering education curriculum, which admits students from the age of 15 years old. The Multiversity Technical Committee will review the Multiversity Normal Model and utilize it as a common framework and model curricula to produce APEN Multiversity Map for Malaysia. Recommendations on how to adapt and implement the Multiversity Normal Model to rectify weaknesses in the existing curriculum will be proposed. UTM Razak School plans to organize an ASEAN International i-HRD Conference, and will participate in a series of Multiversity Seminars, including a wrap-up conference to disseminate the outcomes of this project not only to stakeholders in Malaysia, but also stakeholders in ASEAN countries and Japan.

CIS on the other hand is an effective system developed to evaluate the operational credibility of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in ASEAN member states in enhancing competitiveness of SMEs in the region. The surveyed companies will receive feedback from the research group to understand their own strengths and weaknesses, and will be encouraged to reinforce their competitive edge in the globalized economy. The prototype of CIS is presently being developed by AIIT through an effort of a technical committee set up in AIIT. CIS Based Model and CIS Local Models for the respective ASEAN APEN Member countries will be developed, with CIS Dissemination Seminars proposed to be held four times within the APEN-JAIF project duration. To ensure the success of the CIS Project, two CIS Joint Committee Meetings and a Coordination Meeting for CIS Dissemination Seminar will be held.

“UTM hopes that the signing of this MoA will be the starting point for the onset of various other joint ventures in the sharing of expertise in the future, particularly in boosting industrial development activities, courses, training and research, both locally and globally. It is only through such a strategic alliance would we be able to generate more impactful outcomes towards wealth creation and universal prosperity”, said Prof. Datuk Ir. Dr. Wahid in his closing address.