UTAR and SIT join hands for the eighth construction workshop

Seated from left: Prof Dr Naoto Mine, Prof Dr Hirotake Kanisawa, Tan, Prof Dr Kazuya Shide with SIT academics, and participants of the workshop

It was another enriching experience for the 13 UTAR Bachelor of Science (Honours) Construction Management students, who participated in the UTAR-SIT Cooperative Workshop, held from 18 to 28 October 2023 at Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT), Toyosu Campus, Tokyo, Japan.

Collaborating for the eighth time, UTAR and SIT once again strengthened their relationships with another successful workshop that provided UTAR students with an immersive learning experience on Japan’s construction industry. The workshop also facilitated the exchange of knowledge and cultural understanding, as participants of both institutions learnt about the architectural and industrial practices of Japan’s and Malaysia’s construction, and the cultural differences between Malaysia and Japan. It also served as an opportune platform for participants to establish international networking, and hone their cultural intelligence skills.

Titled “Global Project-based Learning by School of Architecture”, the workshop was led by SIT’s academics, namely Prof Dr Hirotake Kanisawa, Prof Dr Kazuya Shide, and Prof Dr Naoto Mine. The UTAR students were accompanied by the Faculty of Engineering and Green Technology’s Department of Construction Management lecturer, Ts Tan Zi Yi. The workshop included lessons on the utilisation of REVIT and Building Information Modelling (BIM), and site visits to Shimizu Construction Technical Research Institute and Toda Corporation. The UTAR students also enjoyed excursions to Kawagoe and Asakusa’s Senso-ji Temple, which offered a glimpse into Japan’s rich heritage, and then to Gundam Factory in Yokohama for modern sightseeing.

Alex Beh Kar Heng commented, “I had an invaluable opportunity to expand my technical skillset of construction software, such as REVIT. The immersive learning environment allowed me to grasp the nuances of their powerful tools, enabling me to create detailed 3D models, simulate construction processes, and analyse various design aspects with remarkable precision and efficiency by using the concept of Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA). To be able to collaborate with the Japanese students in designing the hotel by using Autodesk Revit was amazing. This software is widely recognised in the field of construction, such as the works of architecture and structure. I had the opportunity to learn and apply various techniques related to architectural design, such as creating interior design and designing floor plans or layouts. Furthermore, I have learnt to communicate with Japanese students with a polite and respectful nature that is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. The shared value between both cultures serves as a foundation for meaningful interactions. This cultural sensitivity, coupled with the patience to navigate language barriers, enables Malaysians to establish connections based on empathy and shared experiences, allowing for effective and enriching communication with each other.”

Goh Shee Neng enthused “During our visit to the Shimizu Corporation’s research lab, we were immersed in a world of cutting-edge construction knowledge. The experience was enlightening as we delved into the realm of advanced technology, particularly in the areas of wind and anti-earthquake technology, such as the isolator, due to Japan’s practice. The experts shared their extensive knowledge and insights, shedding light on innovative techniques and technologies. Our visit to the TODA Construction site was an eye-opening experience that allowed us to witness the distinctiveness of their construction practices and sites. Compared to the construction sites in Malaysia, TODA’s attention to detail, efficiency, and safety measures were truly impressive. Besides, it also differentiated the technology used for building, such as the biggest isolator for earthquakes. The construction manager at the site played a pivotal role in making our visit a great learning experience.”

Lim Jia Ying expressed, “One of the most memorable cultural experiences during my stay was the opportunity to wear a yukata, a traditional Japanese garment. This was not just about donning a beautiful piece of clothing, but was a chance to immerse myself in the rich tapestry of Japanese culture. I learnt the art of properly wearing a yukata, including the intricate process of tying the obi (sash). This experience provided a deeper appreciation for the elegance and symbolism associated with traditional attire. The yukata is commonly worn during summer festivals and special occasions in Japan, and having the chance to wear one allowed me to understand the customs and traditions that surrounded it, creating a profound connection to Japanese culture. Another highlight of my stay in Japan was the day trip to Kawagoe. This historical town, often referred to as "Little Edo," offered a captivating journey into Japan’s past. Walking through the well-preserved Edo-period streets and buildings was like stepping back in time. The architectural beauty and authenticity of the place provided a striking contrast to modern Tokyo. The day also included a culinary adventure, where I sampled local delicacies, including sweet potato-based snacks and traditional Japanese street food. Exploring the vibrant marketplaces and shops allowed me to indulge in the local culture, and even bring back souvenirs and traditional crafts as mementoes of this remarkable experience. Meanwhile, my day trip to Yokohama was a delightful exploration of a diverse and dynamic city. Yokohama boasts a unique blend of Japanese and international cultures, and this became evident as I strolled through Yokohama Chinatown, one of the largest in the world. Additionally, I discovered the charm of the historic Motomachi district and had the privilege of visiting the exquisite Sankeien Garden, a serene escape from the urban hustle and bustle. This day trip was a perfect fusion of historical exploration and contemporary cultural immersion, offering a deeper understanding of Japan’s past and present.”

Pang Wei Enn explained, “During the site visit to TODA Corporation, I saw the technique they used to prevent the damage caused by the earthquake. They had installed the anti-earthquake system at the underground beam to separate the underground and the upper ground. When an earthquake happens, only the ground underneath will move, while the upper ground remains unaffected. I also learnt that they used some techniques to separate the underground from the upper ground. For example, there is a gap given between the upper floor and the lower floor to provide space for movement when an earthquake happens. Not only this, but there is also a space between two structures. Through the site visit, I was able to widened my view of the differences between the Malaysian construction site and the Japanese construction site. I was made aware that safety is the most important aspect of the site, while the cleanliness of the site is closely related to safety. By having a clean and safe site, the worker can work more effectively. The environment of the Japanese construction site needs to be highly encouraged in the Malaysian construction site. The safety regulation in Japan is strictly implemented by the construction industry to protect the safety and health of the workers.”

UTAR and SIT students completing their assigned tasks in their respective groups

Participants of the workshop enjoying their excursions and meals together

From left: Prof Dr Naoto Mine, Prof Dr Hirotake Kanisawa, and Tan giving their closing remarks and complimenting participants for completing the workshop

Prof Dr Kazuya Shide (centre) presenting certificate to a participant

Introductory briefing on the first day

UTAR students giving self-introduction

Touring the Toyosu Campus

UTAR students trying the Kimono

Participants in their Kimono

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