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IET On Campus to the rescue!

Research Scholar Kameswara Prakash (‘Kamesh’) is in the fourth and final year of a PhD in Renewable Energy. He has been the IET On Campus President at Taylor’s University in Selangor, Malaysia, since 2019.

The IET On Campus group has run a wide range of activities since it was established in 2016, regularly attracting between 20 and 30 students to each event.

Kamesh said: “It’s always a good idea to maintain close links between industry and academia. It allows students to align their university activities with current industry needs, which then enhances their employability once they complete their studies.”

Learning opportunities

In May 2021 the group organised a one-day ‘Let’s Talk Engineering’ event. It was structured around five informative sessions, each led by an experienced engineer with extensive industry know-how. The guest speakers explained their job role, talked about the day-to-day technologies and applications they manage and shared some of the challenges they face.

The event attracted 20 students. They asked many questions during the interactive sessions after the main talks and Kamesh was pleased to learn that several of the students used the event to grow their professional network and went on to pursue internships at the companies of some of the speakers.

The group organised a further online event five months later, attended by 28 IET On Campus members. The online presentation was delivered by one of Malaysia’s top research scientists – an electronic engineering expert who specialises in optical communication systems.

“He told us about an invention that uses wavelength division multiplexing based on an innovative polymer optical fibre coupler that’s easy to manufacture, quick to deploy, with significantly reduced installation costs,” said Kamesh. “We also found out how feedback from industry experts had helped to improve the product’s functionality and packaging. We all learned a lot!”

Community response

In mid-December 2021, torrential rain caused severe floods in eight of Peninsular Malaysia’s 11 states. Kamesh said: “The government evacuated tens of thousands of people from low areas to places of safety. Most modes of transport were affected and in all there were more than 50 fatalities.

Our group’s Lecturer Adviser told us about a local kindergarten where all the electrical appliances and connections had been disabled by the floods. The disaster relief funds from the government had yet to arrive, so the teachers and children were having to use the facility without electrical power or equipment. We decided to take on the challenge and try to solve the issue.”

Kamesh and his fellow IET committee members sprang into action. They visited the kindergarten and performed an initial evaluation of the extent of the restoration work needed. Kamesh said: “All the fixtures – things like ceiling fans, table fans, tube lights and junction boxes – had been damaged by the water getting into the coils and electrical wiring.”

Having scoped out the work, they then secured their university’s support in sourcing electrical fixtures and appliances for the two classrooms, a kitchen, a play area and a toilet.

With the help of two lecturers and five scholar students from the VERTICALS research lab they worked tirelessly to replace or upgrade the damaged electrical equipment. They then did insulation tests to ensure the safety and integrity of the electrical systems.

Kamesh said: “As we all have an electrical engineering background, fixing electrical items is kind of our daily research activity, so we were well suited to the task!

“For me, one of the best bits about the project was the interest that it sparked among the kindergarten children. They were forever looking at us and no doubt asking themselves: ‘Who are they? What are they doing in my classroom?’ We had a lot of fun with the children and their teachers during our lunch breaks.”

The planning, commissioning and execution of the work took three days in all, with seven people on site each day. “The project was very successful,” said Kamesh. “All the fixtures are working properly and the children and the teachers in the facility expressed their gratitude to us in person – they also offered us lunch at the nearby mosque.

“Through our IET Young Professionals group I communicated to all my fellow IET On Campus members about all the work we did at the kindergarten in response to the floods. I hope they are inspired by our hands-on activity.”

The joy in the teachers’ eyes on completion of the project is something that Kamesh will never forget!

Hot topic

Many Malaysian companies recognise the need to get up to speed with Industry 4.0 [IR 4.0], so the engineering students at Taylor’s University are understandably keen to learn more about it. Based on the positive feedback received by the IET On Campus group to its 2021 series of Expert Talks on IR 4.0, the committee decided to run a second series in 2022.

Kamesh and his fellow committee members organised five fascinating presentations, delivered by industry and academic experts between April and June:

  • Advanced Semiconductor Packaging – Architect the Autonomous Car
  • Industrial Internet of Things
  • 3D to 4D Materials – Challenges and Opportunities
  • 5G to 6G – Challenges and Opportunities
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – Flying High.

“Each presentation was followed by a Q&A session with the subject-matter expert. The events attracted 150 students in total. It was great to see so many students actively participating.”

Committee members:

  • Kameswara Prakash – President     
  • Dr Sridhar – Vice President
  • Dr Gowthamraj – Treasurer
  • Ramsundar – Secretary
  • Mijuwaadh – Marketing and Publicity
  • Ahmad Adel – Member
  • Assoc. Prof. Ts. Dr Chockalingam Aravind – Lecturer Adviser
  • Dr Mohd Farhan – Lecturer