JOHOR BAHRU, 4 Jun – Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) has carved out a unique niche when becoming the first public university to offer a course in Nuclear Engineering to support the  nation’s Vision 2020 sufficient energy supplies aspiration.
Head of the Bachelor of Nuclear Engineering Programme, Faculty of Petroleum and Renewable Energy Engineering (FPREE), Dr. Khaidzir Hamzah said, UTM officially offered the course in September 2013 in order to produce well-trained staff that is capable of powering Malaysia’s nuclear reactors in future.
“We are moving in line with the government’s desire to find alternative energy. The rising price of fossil fuels such as oil and coal has resulted in many countries worldwide to turn to nuclear power as an alternative power supply,” he said.
Commencing with 31 students in the first year of its inception, the course now has 63 students enrolled in the 4 year programme.
Given the fact that the programme is still in its infancy, UTM is now facing a shortage of lecturers with a nuclear background expertise.
“Currently we have four lecturers and this number needs to be increased.  The increase in expertise will be done by hiring new permanent or contract lecturers, or by attaining lecturers through attachment schemes,” he said.
UTM has also taken proactive actions by forging strategic partnerships with a number of internal and external agencies to support the teaching and learning process.
“Currently, we have established strategic partnerships with Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and the Malaysian Nuclear Agency.
“We will also initiate alliances with renowned overseas universities such as Seoul National University, Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST), Tokyo University, Tokyo Technical University and Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) to allow staff and student mobility for practical training and sharing of expertise,” he said.
For accreditation purposes, UTM is currently in the process of getting the programme accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Council (EAC).
“Our syllabus has been structured by the International Energy Atomic Agency (IAEA) which ensures quality and high standards.”
“The career prospect of our graduates is not necessarily only in nuclear reactors but they can also seek employment in the fields of medical, agricultural, technical industry, manufacturing and energy engineering,” said Dr. Khidzir.