Tech centre, education revamp to aid Penang’s push for science and technology

Setting up a Penang Technology Centre modeled after the famed San Jose Tech Centre in the US and recalibrating Penang’s education agenda were among the ideas put forth by industries and academia to spur students’ interest in science and technology.

During the protem Penang Science Council meeting chaired by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, CEOs from multinational companies located in the state shared their views on how to encourage young children and students to pursue a career in science and technology.

Lim said the state government would be willing to provide seed money to see the realisation of the technology centre which could cost between RM30 million to RM40 million to set up while the industries would also be roped in to contribute.

Present at the inaugural protem committee meeting were deputy chief minister Prof P Ramasamy, Socio Economic Research Centre (SERI) director and Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong, Malaysian American Electronics Industry chairman Datuk Wong Siew Hai, Intel Malaysia managing director Atul Bhargava, Motorola managing director TT Yew, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)managing director Datuk Mohd Sofi, Penang Skills Development Centre (PSDC) CEO Datuk Boonler Somchit and representatives from University Sains Malaysia, British Council and other government agencies.

Lim said the reality in the state was the shortage of experienced and qualified electrical and electronic engineers, among others in Penang.

The Penang Science Council idea was mooted by the state government to spur the younger generation into “loving” science and technology.

“From the state government’s perspective, the state has been successful in attracting many research and development and high tech industries into Penang and there is a need to recalibrate our education agenda.

“Therefore, we are not only addressing the short term issues at hand but also the long term issues which will eventually shape the industry in Penang,” Lim told those present.

He said when the initiative to set up the council was first mooted last month, many academicians and industry captains, including those outside Penang, had expressed an interest in the council.

“We intend to start with young minds, to inculcate a healthy interest in science subjects by organising quiz and science-related competition so that they will start to learn sciences via innovative methods.

“From primary through secondary school to post secondary education, support must be given to innovative and entrepreneurial students as they progress and enter into careers in advanced technology industries.

“We should not be tied down with old thoughts and rigid ways and we should allow excellence to flower, water and allow it to grow.

“The state government will lead the efforts but it must be driven by the committee,” Lim added.

He added that the next five to 10 years were crucial to nurture these talents as the demand for electrical/electronic and other forms of engineering which were flourishing in Penang would increase.

Admitting that there were other agencies which were also successful in their own attempts to nurture innovation, Lim said the roles must not be duplicated by the Penang Science Council.

Lim is hopeful that the council would create an innovation zone in the state where science and technology could prosper.

The Edge

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