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CEET teams with Malaysian university

May 30, 2012
Wan Azhar bin Wan Yusoff, director of the Center for Academic Innovation and Competitiveness at UMP, talks to Promod Vohra, Deborah Pierce and Omar Ghrayeb.

Wan Azhar bin Wan Yusoff, director of the Center for Academic Innovation and Competitiveness at UMP, talks to Promod Vohra, Deborah Pierce and Omar Ghrayeb.

The Northern Illinois University College of Engineering and Engineering Technology is assisting Universiti Malaysia Pahang in the creation of an engineering technology program.

The program will help Malaysia meet a tremendous need for engineering technologists. The government there recently indicated that their proposed plan for the future entails having 60 percent of their technical workforce as engineering technologists.

Representatives from UMP visited NIU in the past year and quickly identified CEET as a model program, and CEET deans proposed a plan to partner with them in creating a program at UMP.

The plan is for the UMP program to be identical to the one at NIU, which will ensure that it will meet all of the standards established by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology.

That similarity also will create opportunities for students and faculty from NIU and UMP to participate in exchange programs between the two schools and create the possibility to earn dual degrees.

“It will open the door to international faculty collaboration and create a pipeline between UMP and graduate programs at NIU,” CEET Dean Promod Vohra said.

As part of the first phase of the effort, Vohra, Associate Dean Omar Ghrayeb, Department of Technology Chair Cliff Mirman and faculty from the college have been developing curriculum, drafting syllabi and outcomes for specific courses, and compiling a list of required library resources, for all coursework up to the 300 level. Those efforts are scheduled to be completed by the end of summer, and UMP will begin recruiting students in the fall.

The second phase of the program, which will commence in the fall of 2012, is the development of similar materials for 400 level courses and development of equipment lists for laboratories and computer stations. NIU faculty also will devise assessment materials for all courses and programs, as well as a timeline to get the UMP offerings accredited by ABET.

NIU will be paid $500,000 for its work on the project.

Beyond those efforts, Vohra said that CEET will continue to work with UMP to adapt its programs to the particular needs of Malaysian industry.

“The strength of technical programs lies in their ability to respond to the specific needs of their region and to be flexible to adapt to ever changing technological society”  he said. “This will be one of the first engineering technology programs in Malaysia  and we want to ensure that it is tailored specifically to meet the challenges of Malaysia.”

Just as importantly, the opportunities for close cooperation between NIU and UMP has the potential to put both schools in the vanguard of engineering programs striving to prepare graduates to work in a global economy.

“There is no reason we can’t have global interns working in this program,” Vohra said. “I think that is the wave of the future, and I hope that we are at the front of the curve in creating intercontinental opportunities for our students.”