The Star  In-tech/Education Tuesday September 20, 1988
By A. Asohan

Another door opens for IT enthusiasts

The British have always had a reputation for impeccable timing.

In the wake of the Malaysian Government’s agenda for action and the new emphasis on IT development in Malaysia, representatives from Teeside Polytechnic, which has one of the biggest Schools of Information Engineering in Britain, were here in Malaysia to present a seminar on educational opportunities in the UK.

The seminar, entitled What Next After STPM - Education Opportunities and Facilities Available in the UK, was held on Sept 13 at the Rayma Conference Room and a repeat of the seminar was held on Sept 17 at the Regent Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.  Rayma is the regional representative for Teeside Polytechnic.

The main speaker was Dr Len Lees, dean of the School of Information Engineering at Teeside.  He was accompanied by Keith Brinkworth, admissions tutor and senior lecturer of law at Teeside Business School, and Peter Wybrow, academic services officer and principal lecturer.  They will also be available for discussions and interviews on Sept 20 at the Rayma office.

A host of degrees and qualification

Located in Middlesbrough, north-east England, Teeside has earned the highest accolade given by the British Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA): the right to award its own degrees, diplomas, postgraduate and other professional qualifications.

With a student body of 5,000, Teeside has a library containing some 220,000 volumes with some 10,000 being added each year.  Among the students services available are the Careers Service, Educational Development Unit, the Centre for Industrial/Educational Liaison (CIEL) and others.

The Teeside Polytechnic Students Union also has an overseas students officer to advise and assist over-seas students.

Although Teeside is well known for its chemical and civil engineering courses and has departments specializing in mathematics and statistics, mechanical engineering, design, humanities, administrative and social studies, and health and community studies, its crowning glory is perhaps its School of Information Engineering.

Combining the best of two worlds

According to Associate Dean J.H. Flavell of Teeside’s division of computer science, the polytechnic not only has the largest school of information engineering in Britain, but is also the first to set up such a school.

“We combine the best of certain aspects of the older ‘computer science’ style of courses with the latest in electrical and electronic engineering,” he said in a telephone interview.

The School of Information Engineering concentrates on computing science, information technology, electrical and electronic engineering and instrumentation and control engineering.

Teeside has placed great emphasis on practical experience and has developed a range of sophisticated laboratories for key areas such as artificial intelligence, software engineering, graphics, network communications, real-time computing and 16-bit microcomputer hardware.

It has also made a substantial investment in CAD software and such facilities are available in all laboratories.

An Ethernet local area network links laboratories to staff and lecture rooms, providing access to any of the computer systems available throughout the main buildings.

The school also has strong links with various industries on a nationwide basis, providing fruitful avenues for research and industrial placements for sandwich-course students.

Indeed, Mr Flavell said, “The school will e meeting representatives from some of the major (British) industrial companies on Sept 27 to formulate an industrial liaison group.”

The companies that will take part in this preliminary meeting include ICI, Black and Decker, the British Steel Corporation, Price Waterhouse and others.

Dr. Lees, the Dean of the School, said that “the companies wee will be meeting with do some high-income hiring in the Teeside area.  We usually consult with them to make sure our courses and our fields of research are relevant to the industry.”

The success of the school is evident in the fact that it has been enjoying an annual student population growth of 20 per cent in the last four to five years.  According to Dr Lees, they have been receiving a lot of support from their government.

“We have about five million ringgit worth of equipment in the School itself, made possible by various grants and subsidies from the government,” he said.

These equipment cover a wide area in the IT field, and include such products like DEC, Epson, Apple, IBM, ICL, Intel, Motorola, Sinclair, Commodore, Atari, Amstrad and others.

Malaysians and Teeside

Rayma conference director Pat Lu said she decided to take up the challenge of representing Teeside “because their high standards and quality appealed to us and we felt that we could promote them sincerely.”

She pointed out that at a recent education fair, she witnessed other polytechnics accepting students immediately, despite the fact that many of them were unqualified.

Other factors that convinced her that Teesude would offer a welcome opportunity to Malaysians was the fact that being a polytechnic, the emphasis would be on the practical applications of education, not merely the academic.

Teeside’s four-year sandwich course provides a chance for students to experience life in the various industries they will get involved with before they graduate.

“This provides a major career advantage to Teeside graduates,” she said.

Dr Lees pointed out that their students get three to four job offers even before they graduate, usually from the companies they served under during the sandwich courses.

“Industries in Malaysia are going to depend heavily on integration and software development in the near future.  Our courses are definitely satisfying the needs of the industrialists, especially in the engineering of hard ware and peripherals,” he said.

Students, educationists, school representatives and parents who want to examine what Teeside has to offer can contact Mr Edward Lu of Rayma at 03-7044666.

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