Deepening ties with ViTrox Corporation Berhad

From left: Prof Yow, Prof Ewe, Chu and Tan exchanging the signed MoA documents

Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding on 8 May 2019, UTAR and world-leading automated machine vision inspection solution provider ViTrox Corporation Berhad took their collaborative ties to a new level via the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MoA) at UTAR Kampar Campus on 15 January 2020.

Signing the agreement of the Work-Based Learning (WBL) Education were UTAR President Ir Prof Dr Ewe Hong Tat and ViTrox CEO and President Chu Jenn Weng while witnessed by UTAR Vice President for Internationalisation and Academic Development Ir Prof Dr Yow Ho Kwang and ViTrox People Development Manager Jessica Tan Siew Ping. Also present at the ceremony were Faculty of Engineering and Green Technology (FEGT) Dean Assoc Prof Dr Yap Vooi Voon, FEGT Department of Electronic Engineering Head Assoc Prof Ir Dr Teh Peh Chiong, ViTrox delegates comprising Management Information System Manager Dr Janaka Low Chee Kong, Centre of Excellence Specialist Engineer Ir Dr Koay Loke Kean, Senior Manager of People Culture Su Pek Fuen, People Management Manager Yeoh Siew Eng, as well as People Development Executives Timothy Chong Seang Chun, Chong Swit Yie, and Ui Xiang Ting.

Reaffirming UTAR’s internationalisation commitment and appreciation towards its 300 over collaborative partners, Prof Ewe professed that it is essential for university-industry collaboration in this day and age in order to keep abreast of latest developments and trends. “The era of artificial intelligence (AI) has arrived and is changing the way things operate. With these technological advancements, it is even more important for the university to work with the industry to know about the changes in technology and how we can introduce good fundamental knowledge in different disciplines of studies to the students. We should also equip them with skills on problem-solving, learning of new things, communication, and the grit to grow and work hard,” he mentioned.

The University President then related this to the latest offering of the Work-Based Learning (WBL) Programme and explained, “This WBL education programme provides students with real-life work experiences where they not only apply academic and technical skills but also enhance their employability. This is due to the fact that such experience-based learning comprises practical and curriculum-related work assignments structured to meet the students’ interests, abilities and aptitude.” This, according to Prof Ewe, will enable the students to share their ideas and talents more effectively with the attached company since they will be spending one full year in the industry which is a good platform for industrial exposure in order to become industry-ready and hands-on in solving problems. “UTAR is very willing to work with more industries on this as we believe this is very essential to meet the challenges in the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). We need the kind of graduates who can solve problems with no known answers,” Prof Ewe concluded and thanked ViTrox for partnering with UTAR in making the Bachelor of Technology (Hons) Electronic Systems WBL programme a reality.

Prof Ewe emphasising on the importance of technology revolution and university-industry collaboration

Thanking UTAR for the trust in having ViTrox, a 20-year-old local tech firm, as one of the key collaborative partners in the newly-offered WBL programme, Chu was also extremely hopeful that the collaboration will bridge the gap between the need of the industries and the universities. He also talked about an encounter with UTAR’s immediate past president Ir Academician Emeritus Prof Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Chuah Hean Teik a couple of years ago which later paved the way for UTAR-ViTrox collaborations, “As an industry player, we often face tremendous challenges in getting talents as most graduates do not seem to be industry-ready. I’m lucky to have known UTAR through Prof Chuah and have been impressed by the efficiency shown by the FEGT management and academics in working for a common goal. This led to the signing of MoU in May 2019 and now the MoA on WBL education programme. This WBL approach is a good start to bring the students closer to the industry and to have a good understanding of how the industry works even before they graduate.” He also gave the example of how students attached under the WBL programme and ViTrox will have the opportunity to work alongside R&D engineers on real projects over the one-year period, thus having a good overview of the way the industry operates.

Also announcing a new collaboration on WBL education with programmes from the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology (FICT) on the areas of AI, Big Data analytics, programming, and so on, the CEO said, “These are critical areas which will be in great demand in the oncoming 4IR. These talents are very important for the industry, especially in Penang where you see the electrical and electronics (E&E) sectors, automation, robotics and so on requiring such talents. However, brain drain is also another factor why we are facing a talent shortage now. Collectively, the industry, government, and the higher learning institutions should do something to reverse the brain drain and also grow our talents to benefit our nation.” Also thanking Dr Teh and his team for coming up with the WBL education programme syllabus, Chu also highlighted ViTrox’s commitment in the programme via the recruitment of 19 engineers as coaches. “Hopefully, we will get more students and feel the positive impact of this WBL programme in the near future,” Chu concluded, expressing his confidence in collaborating with UTAR due to the university’s vision and track record of producing competent graduates.

Chu explaining the significance of Work-Based Learning Education programme

The event reached its highlight with the signing of the MoA documents, followed by an exchange of souvenirs and a group photograph.

Prof Ewe (left) and Chu signing the MoA documents

From left: Swit Yie, Seang Chun, Dr Chen, Dr Teh, Dr Yap, Prof Yow, Prof Ewe, Chu, Su, Tan, Yeoh, Dr Koay, Dr Low and Ui

Prof Ewe (left) and Chu exchanging souvenirs

In conjunction with the signing ceremony, the guests were also invited to launch the newly-established ViTrox Innovation Laboratory at FEGT.

From left: Prof Ewe, Chu and Prof Yow officiating the launching of ViTrox Innovation Laboratory

ViTrox Technologies was established in Penang in 2000 by Chu and Steven Siaw Kok Tong. Four years later, it was converted into a public limited company adopting the name of ViTrox Corporation Berhad. ViTrox designs and manufactures innovative, cutting-edge and cost-effective automated vision inspection equipment as well as system-on-chip embedded electronics devices for the semiconductor and electronics packaging industries. Its core products include the Machine Vision System (MVS), Automated Board Inspection (ABI) and Electronics Communication System (ECS).

ViTrox officially joined UTAR’s MoU fraternity in May 2019 to jumpstart a string of purposeful and meaningful projects ranging from collaborative research and sharing of expertise to enrichment and upskilling initiatives.

Currently, FEGT and ViTrox are working closely in areas such as image processing, thermal analysis and robotics; while FICT and the Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science will explore the areas of Internet of Things gateway, predictive algorithm, AI and so on. Such collaborative ties with the industry have been instrumental in catapulting the University to be a global university of educational excellence with transformative societal impact.

From left (seated): Su, Dr Teh, Dr Yap, Chu, Prof Ewe, Prof Yow, Dr Low, Tan and Yeoh giving thumbs up after the launching of the laboratory with other delegates from ViTrox; UTAR staff and students

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