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Practical learning just a stone’s throw away for Curtin engineering students

Miri – 20 April 2019 – Civil and Construction Engineering students of Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia) need only step out of their classrooms for a practical learning experience on a real construction site.

That is because there is ongoing construction for two new campus buildings - a 2-storey Engineering Research Laboratory and single storey cafeteria – just across the road from the Faculty of Engineering and Science building. There they can get a first-hand experience of managing construction projects and gain valuable insights into various aspects of construction engineering.

The idea to involve the students in the projects came from Curtin Malaysia’s Chief Operating Officer Ir. Pieter Willem Pottas who was of the view that they are reasonably large projects and presented a perfect opportunity for students to get practical experience right on campus.

Sharing his views was Head of the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering and Science, Associate Professor Muhammad Ekhlasur Rahman, who said Curtin’s engineering curriculum is very practical-oriented and industry-focused and such experiences complement the students’ theoretical studies in class.

“The aim is to enhance the student experience and give them a well-rounded education,” said Associate Professor Ekhlasur, adding that his department regularly organises study tours and site visits for students to locations both in East Malaysia and Peninsular Malaysia throughout the four-year honours programme.

Ir. Pottas said the buildings being built on campus, including an almost completed Curtin Trading Room facility for online stock market training for business students, are designed to be iconic campus landmarks and are being built using some new and innovative construction techniques.

“Thus, it is good that the students can witness the construction right from the foundation works,” he said.

With the support of the contractors and Associate Professor Muhammad and his staff, the students have been donning their safety gear and visiting the sites regularly to observe construction work in progress. They also spent considerable time studying the structural drawings for the two buildings to get a better understanding of the projects.

At the sites, they were briefed on the survey works and shown the markings indicating the pile points according to the structural drawings. They were also shown typical precast reinforced concrete piles and learned the correct methods of handling and stockpiling the piles on site.

For a more hands-on experience, they performed an overall check of the piles to ensure their soundness before the piling began, and continued to record piling data on actual piling record sheets as piling progressed. In addition, they observed how extensions for precast reinforced concrete piles are installed to achieve the required total pile depth.

Further campus expansion projects at Curtin Malaysia include a Centre for Digital Centre for Excellence, 4-storey student accommodation block, and new rugby pitch. Its RM63 million Pilot Plant Facility, owned and developed by the Sarawak State Government and operated by Curtin Malaysia, is due to be officially opened later this year.

Curtin’s Bachelor of Engineering in Civil and Construction Engineering is a comprehensive combination of civil engineering and construction engineering and offers a good balance of theoretical background and practical experience throughout the four years of study.

The course has extensive support and collaboration from industry players and is highly prized by graduates and respected by professional engineers. Teaching staff come from reputable universities all over the world with specialised knowledge that runs the gamut of civil and construction engineering, ranging from geotechnical engineering, structures and construction management, to water and environmental engineering.

Students are equipped with the practical skills necessary to begin working effectively as graduate engineers immediately after graduation. Many of Curtin Malaysia’s civil and construction engineering graduates have found work all over the world, working on megaprojects and bettering people’s lives, while others have found their passion in smaller, more specialised work.

The course offered at Curtin Malaysia is identical to those at Curtin’s main campus in Perth and other Curtin international campuses. Due to its excellent quality, it is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Council (EAC) of the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM), as well as Engineers Australia (EA) and the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

Curtin University is currently ranked in the top 100 of universities for Civil and Structural Engineering in the 2019 QS University Rankings by Subject. Curtin Malaysia is rated Tier 5: Excellent for its engineering programmes under Malaysia’s D-SETARA discipline-based rating system.

For more information on Curtin Malaysia, visit its website (www.curtin.edu.my), its Facebook page (CurtinMalaysia), Twitter profile (curtinmalaysia), Instagram (curtinmalaysia), YouTube channel (Curtin Malaysia) or LinkedIn page (Curtin Malaysia).


Senior lecturer Dr Wong Kwong Soon (in red shirt) and students studying structural drawings for the new Engineering Research Laboratory.


Students experienced recording piling data on pilot record sheets.


Students and lecturers pose for group photo with site staff.