LKC FES academics secure international grant from EiF

Department of Mechatronics and BioMedical Engineering Assoc Prof Ir Ts Dr Hum Yan Chai and his team members from Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science (LKC FES) have successfully secured an international grant worth USD13,682 for their research project titled “Bridging the gap between engineering students and non-engineering audience by instilling data storytelling skills through training programmes with industrial use cases and professional certification”. The grant was awarded by the Engineering Information Foundation (EiF), USA for one year.

The project was led by Dr Hum. His co-researchers were LKC FES Dean Assoc Prof Ts Dr Yap Wun She, Head of Mechatronics and BioMedical Engineering Department Dr Kwan Ban Hoe and LKC FES PhD (Eng) Programme and MEngSc Programmes Head Assoc Prof Dr Tee Yee Kai.

Their project, which was titled “Bridging the gap between engineering students and non-engineering audience by instilling data storytelling skills through training programmes with industrial use cases and professional certification” aimed to equip future engineers with the essential skill of data storytelling skills to instil them with the effective skills of advancing their data, ideas and results into insights using visualisation techniques, tools and presentation.

Dr Hum said, “As engineering educators, we find that engineering students can hardly communicate with non-engineering counterparts effectively, especially in delivering insights from a dataset using narratives and visualisations, as this skill is invariably not the main focus in formal engineering training.  It is observable that the majority of engineering graduates are not well-versed with the tools and skills in creating charts, dashboards, and visualisations.”

According to Dr Hum, even with a well-constructed dashboard, engineering students lack practical approaches to engage the audience, deliver insights and generate effective narratives that resonate with the audience, especially when the audience belong to non-engineering fields. These inabilities persist as a barrier for these future engineers to communicate with their future non-engineering colleagues, superiors and their business counterparts effectively in a multidisciplinary working environment. 

“The goal of the project is to equip engineering students with data storytelling skills. This project entails two awareness talk sessions, a one-day workshop, three-day training, and four coaching sessions, co-organised by Quandatics Academy and UTAR. Upon completing this project, we hope that the participating students would have developed the abilities to design effective visualisation, create effective dashboards using tableau, and deliver engaging pitching. In addition, the selected participants will be granted the opportunity to be certified as Tableau Desktop Specialists,” he further elucidated.

He finally added, “We are truly grateful to EiF for providing us with this grant amounting to USD13,682 for our project. We were delighted that our proposal was selected by the Engineering Information Foundation in a highly competitive process. However, what excited us the most is the anticipated benefits that some of the UTAR Engineering students will be receiving; life-long and transferable data storytelling skillset. We are confident that the skills we equip the students with will offer them a substantial edge in their future career development. On behalf of the team, I would like to take this opportunity to express our utmost gratitude to the previous Malaysian recipient of the Engineering Information Foundation Grant Programmes in 2019 — Assoc Prof Ts Dr Balamuralithara Balakrishnan from Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) — for his sincere sharing of the experiences and important information of the grant application during a sharing session organised by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in January this year. Next, we are indebted to the assistance and coordination from various parties in UTAR— LKC FES, DMBE, Centre for Healthcare Science and Technology (CHST), Division of Finance (DFN), Legal Unit of Registrar's Office, Institute of Postgraduate Studies and Research (IPSR) and the President during the application process. Without their wholehearted support, our success in the application would not have been possible. Thank you!”

The grant provider, Engineering Information Foundation (EiF) is an independent private foundation, chartered in the State of New York.  Its mission is to improve worldwide engineering education and practice through information technology and the recruitment of women by providing grants to qualified not-for-profit organisations. EiF’s grant activity supports developmental projects, instructional projects, and training programmes in engineering education and research that fit their fields of interest — Enhancing Communication and Use of Information in Engineering.

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