JOHOR BAHRU, 27 March 2019 – The huge amount of experience gained from an internship session, and as a part time software engineer have enabled one of the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) graduates to successfully deploy robotic solution in Mexico after graduation.

Nik Ahmad Faisal Kamarolzaman graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor of Mechatronics from the School of Electrical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering of UTM Johor Bahru with flying colors.

In an interview session held at his home recently, Nik Ahmad Faisal said that it all started with his internship during his third year study in UTM.

“It all started with my internship at DF Automation during my 3rd year study in UTM. I was aware that prior engineering experience and hands-on skills could help boost my career when I step out from university.

“After the graduation in 2017, I chose to work in DF Automation, a small company founded by our university lecturer focusing on designing and manufacturing automated guided vehicles (AGVs),” he said.

Nik Ahmad Faisal said working in a small engineering company would allow him to know the full scale processes of product design and provide him the opportunity to work on major projects for the industries.

“That internship experience really enhanced my knowledge and experience because I was working with a group of highly skilled and passionate engineers, most of whom graduated top of their classes with international accolades to their name.

“After the internship, I continued to work part time with DF Automation as it helped me to ease my financial burden besides, the company was located near to the university. It was tough to balance between work and studies, but the tasks allocated at work actually accelerated my learning at the university, helping me to move ahead in the class,” said Nik Ahmad Faisal remembering his past.

After his graduation from UTM, Nik Ahmad Faisal joined DF Automation as a software engineer, a job which he immediately started after finishing his last university examination paper.

“Within six months of the permanent employment, I was entrusted to deploy factory automation projects to several countries. One of them was a 3-week deployment to Mexico, where I was required to program the AGV navigation on site and linked up to the company’s system.

“The customers were satisfied with the deployment and I was further sent to India, Singapore and Thailand to deploy more automation solutions for other multinational companies. It never crossed my mind that I would get to visit so many countries in such a short time upon employment including Paris and Amsterdam,” said Nik Faisal.

Nik Ahmad Faisal said he also appreciate the time spent with the engineers and local community, understanding their work cultures and ethics. For example, the Mexican team was very technical and would try their best to troubleshoot any issues in line on their own before getting vendor support down to component level.

Looking back to his past, Nik Ahmad Faisal said that he was very much lucky to be selected as UTM students.

“When studying at Diploma level in UTM Kuala Lumpur, I started to explore robotic projects and build several prototypes and joined robotic competitions. After furthering my studies at the degree level in UTM Johor Bahru, I met Dr Yeong Che Fai who co-founded DF Automation & Robotics with a few other UTM alumni.

“It was rare to meet a lecturer who can juggle between research, academics and business at the same time. He mentored me during my internship and part time work. After completing my internship, I asked Dr Yeong to be my final year project (FYP) supervisor as he was known to design projects with commercial value and having award potential,” said Nik Ahmad Faisal.

The FYP project was to develop a service robot that could recognize people, their demographics and emotion to show targeted advertisement, at the same time analyzing demographic data of the crowd.

The project was a collaboration between UTM, DF Automation and Pepperl+Fuchs. Pepperl+Fuchs is a leading manufacturer of industrial automation products and industrial sensors for factory automation.

“Due to this collaboration, I was able to explore high-end industrial sensors and systems during my final year studies. This project enabled me to enter into several competitions. We won Best of the Best Project in Innovate Malaysia, First Prize for Microsoft Imagine Cup and represented Malaysia to the regional competition in Manila, Philippines. My team learned a great deal of new knowledge in term of technical, business and how to pitch to potential investor,” he said.

Nik Ahmad Faisal said that both UTM and DF have provided him a conducive learning environment to expand his potential as the expectations and confidence given to him helped him to achieve something he himself did not belief earlier.

“I was excited and proud to know that UTM produced graduates who could start an industrial automation or technological company that exports to big multinational companies at international market and that I contributed partly in building this company.

According to him, all the customers he met when working with DF Automations thought that the AGVs manufactured by our company were produced in highly technological advanced countries such as the United States or Japan because of its high quality, software design and Industrial Revolution (IR) 4.0 capabilities.

“They were also surprised that I graduated from a Malaysian university. I shared about our university culture where students were encouraged to join competitions and student’s society to share knowledge,” said Nik Ahmad.

Before ending his conversation, Nik Ahmad Faisal also gave an advice to new students who wish to advance further in their life.

“My advice to new students, if you wish to advance further then you cannot focus on just studying alone. Real job requires real experience with latest technology in the industry.

“Get hands-on experience from as early as from the first year of studying. If you can, get a mentor to guide your career path and try to do extra work during your studies,” he advised.

Nik Faisal also stressed that the process of holistic learning will require one to involve in such activities such as the participation in competition, co-curricular activities and part time work for enrichment of experience.

“Your participation in competition, co-curricular activities and part time work for skill enhancement would set you apart from the fresh job-seekers when you graduate from university.

“From my point of view, it is not the winning that matters but the experiences and the soft skills that you earned during your industrial training and doing part-time job that really matters most and given priority by your future employers,” he said.

Nik Ahmad Faisal (second left) during his first deployment to Mexico together with Mexican customers.

Nik Ahmad Faisal (sitting most right) together with Supervisor Dr Yeong Che Fai (standing 3rd from left) during Microsoft Imagine Cup South Asia 2017 competition in Manila, The Philippines.

Nik (far right) together with team mate Zulfahmy (far left) and Shukri (middle) won the First Place in Imagine Cup Malaysia 2017 during their undergraduate study in UTM.