Cultivating STEM in Malaysia

“I recognise that Heriot-Watt University’s philosophy in education is to ensure all graduates are well-prepared for the industry. Even with the onset of the fourth industrial revolution, my degree prepares me with the knowledge to operate the latest designing software besides placing great emphasis on the basics of engineering,” shared Christopher Sim Teck Ching, a third-year BEng Civil Engineering student at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, who obtained a strong start with the university’s Foundation in Science programme.

Assistant Professor Tsung Kheng Yew, Programme Director of the Foundation in Science programme, characterises the fourth industrial revolution as an increasing pace of changing technology and its continuous merging with human lives. He explained, “The advancements in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and biotechnology are undoubtedly changing the way we live and work, whether positively or negatively. For instance, driverless vehicles and smart homes help improve our standard of living, while robotics and 3D printing enable economic expansion. However, some of these changes inevitably cause traditional jobs like manufacturing to be taken over by technology. Hence, new skills are in demand for in our future workforce.”

In preparation for this, the youth need to be knowledgeable and competent in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) if they are to be relevant moving into the future.

Heriot-Watt University’s Foundation in Science programme actively inculcates in students various STEM skills through numerous teaching and learning activities. These include mathematics, chemistry, physics and science skills along with crucial soft skills to help them build a strong foundation in preparation for their upcoming undergraduate studies and their careers in STEM thereafter.

According to Tsung, the Physics investigation design assignment in the final semester of the Foundation in Science programme is an exemplary case in point.

“In this assignment, students are given the opportunity to work as a group and the freedom to devise an investigation of their own. They get to prepare a proposal and present it to their peers. They also learn to source for materials, conduct their investigation and report on their results. All these activities improve skills and foster competency in areas like research, teamwork, leadership, planning, coordination, organisation, communication and problem solving. Furthermore, they are able to develop their cognitive skills in areas of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis and evaluation.”

More than just development of skills, when asked if he felt he was given opportunities to link with the industry, Christopher said, “Yes! The Student Support Centre and Society of Civil Engineers held study tours to our Heriot-Watt industrial partners’ sites and invited professionals in the industry to speak to us. These have greatly supplemented our course lectures and given us a deeper understanding of the construction industry. The university also supported us in attaining internships or industrial placements, besides organising intervarsity competitions, which provide a platform for networking.”

Tsung concluded, “The Foundation in Science programme at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia is an excellent opportunity for our youth to develop their STEM skills. In doing so, our students are better prepared to succeed and shine amidst a challenging and competitive environment in the fourth industrial revolution.”  

100% and 50% scholarships are available for all undergraduate programmes at our Malaysia campus under the Tan Sri Yeoh Tiong Lay Global Scholarship Programme, with the opportunity to apply to the UK campus after the first year at 50% of the tuition fees. For more information on the scholarship, Foundation in Science programme as well as other programmes or scholarships offered, visit its campus in Putrajaya on its upcoming Scholarship Days on 25 and 26 May 2019 or during visitation hours from 9am to 5pm on Mondays to Fridays and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays. Alternatively, log on to or call +603 8894 3888/e-mail

Frequent site visits provide Heriot-Watt University Malaysia’s Built Environment students with the opportunity to gain invaluable hands-on experiences in the real world.

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