Cross-cultural collaborative work over the Internet has become increasingly significant in today’s borderless world. The C3AOL STEM Ambassador Global Outreach Programme 2018 is a result of Newton C3Astronomy Project, a multidisciplinary research project, entailing expertise in areas of Astronomy, Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) and Cross-Cultural Communication.

It is the first endeavour for Newton Grant to bridge STEM and Social Science together in the 3 domains areas where researchers from Malaysia and the United Kingdom collaborated to explore the multifaceted competencies needed by astronomy students in handling big data through virtual learning platform. Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and University of Leicester (ULEIC) team researchers have mutually agreed to share their field knowledge and industry experience using Astronomy Online Lab (AOL) based on astronomy themes such as Earth Observation, Planetary Motion, Radio and Space Plasma Physics, Space and Earth Electromagnetism.

Through this exploratory telecollaborative project, student winners from both countries were carefully selected to be the STEM Ambassadors for their university and were given a chance to visit the partner university and relevant space agencies to learn and experience the different approaches to policy and standard operations of Space Education. Both the student winners from UTM, UKM and Leicester University presented their findings and experiences from the telecollaborative project to the host university and related space agencies during the research mobility programme, to give awareness on the interactive, virtual learning tools that can be utilised to consolidate the comprehension of astronomical concepts and applications to help make sense of the learned knowledge.

The four Leicester’s STEM Ambassadors who visited Malaysia in July 2018 were Jack Musk, Cordelia Brown, Amos Shamutete, and Stylianos Kypraios accompanied by University of Leicester team, Prof. Effie Law (PI, Dept of Informatics), Dr. Nigel Bannister (Dept of Physics) and Dr. Matthias Heintz (Dept of Informatics). The UK team visited UTM Kuala Lumpur campus, Teluk Kemang Observatory, National Space Centre (ANGKASA), National Planetarium and experienced many cultural attractions around Malacca and Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysian STEM Ambassadors visited UK last November 2018, were represented by Lee Zheng Hao Daric and Chan Fong Chi from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTMJB) and Razira Razalli, Muhammad Ezzat Abdul Hamid from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), accompanied by Malaysian team researchers includes Assoc. Prof. Dr. Marlia Puteh (PI, UTM), Dr. Othman Zainon (UTM), Dr. Nurhasmiza Abu Hasan (UTM), Dr. Nurul Shazana Abdul Hamid (UKM), Lilie Zahara Ramly and Ayu Rita Mohamad (FSSH PhD students, UTMKL). The Malaysian team experienced Leicester University Campus, Newton House – ‘Woolsthorpe Manor’, Leicester Space Centre, Royal Observatory at Prime Meridian Greenwich, Science and Natural History Museums.

Such research exchanges not only empower research collaboration activities between the three institutions at the academic level, but also foster to the advancing of astronomy education with the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) and facilitate future industry collaboration between the universities and space agencies of the two countries. Students, team researcher/instructors and industry experts from both countries mutually have exchanges in terms of lectures and talks, tele-collaborative project management, knowledge and practices, as well as conducting research mobility activities through Newton C3Astronomy STEM Ambassador Global Outreach Programme 2018. The partnership has mediated the conceivable expansion of related research projects through additional grants in near future. The participants not only experienced insights gained from participating in the project, but also explored local astronomy facilities and activities for shared knowledge and work improvements.

Overall, this Newton C3AOL STEM research Mobility Programme and Interim meetings, have proven to be very fruitful and successful to UTM and Leicester University teams. As for the STEM Ambassadors, they learned the different work processes framework of space education and related industry direction of the two countries. There are many creative ways to spread interests, potential career aspirations and inculcate awareness to younger generations in the field of astronomy that has not been tapped on. It is hoped that more multi-disciplinary research grants avenues like this can be created, to generate workable research output, but also indoctrinate opportunities for new generation of research approaches. This way, more partnerships and joint research innovations can be churned to benefit and aspire future young scholars, budding researchers or scientists, for the sustainability and prosperity of the nation.

UTM and UKM research team during the UK research mobility programme last November 2018.

Leicester University team during their research mobility visit to Malaysia.

Prepared by:

C3AOL Research Team

Vot: 4B296

Project leader: Assoc. Prof Dr. Marlia Puteh