Contributed by Universiti Teknologi Brunei
The world is changing rapidly – from climate change, increased health problems and even the coronavirus pandemic. This means that prudent alterations have to be made in overcoming these ever-growing issue, to ensure long lasting and sustainable results.
Keeping this in mind, Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) academics have long been incorporating a dynamic curriculum in both its programmes and research, not only focussing on curbing the challenges of the changing world, but also providing students with core professional skills and knowledge beyond solely academic comprehension. This will in turn produce graduates equipped with the imperative expertise that can ensure a promising future, not only for the university, but also the nation as a whole.
ADAPTING UTB’S TEACHING STYLE TO PROMOTE VISIONARY THINKING
UTB Tri-CEd Director Dr Hajah Roslynna binti Haji Rosli found that technologies are rapidly changing, which means the Sultanate needs to adapt to the evolving technologies so that learners are able to maintain and develop skills to stay relevant.
She said the educator should be encouraged to move away from the cultural expectation of spoon feeding, and instead produce graduates who are independent, capable of critical thinking and problem-solving. Such essential qualities would be valuable assets in both the personal and professional lives of these individuals.
“I strongly support the university’s strategic objectives, especially in producing independent learners. As lecturers, we have the opportunity to instil quality and resilience in our graduates,” said Dr Roslynna.
Meanwhile, Food Science and Technology Lecturer Dr Aida Maryam binti Haji Basri said she believes the efficient transfer of knowledge is essential when it comes to helping students develop. She is of the opinion that sharing research experience and a hands-on comprehension for teaching, as well as supervising students on analytical skills and knowledge, particularly in Chemistry, go hand-in-hand.
When it comes to imparting innovative skills and relating these theories to real world applications, trainees must fully understand the theories and principles behind everyday matters to properly apply them.
UTB School of Business Assistant Professor Dr Kabiru Maitama Kura said by applying theoretical concepts to real-world situations, students will be able to benefit more in their overall learning experience. He found that by making each class session more interactive, the students will participate more actively, which in turn leads to an improvement in their academic journey.
“An interactive teaching strategy is more understandable and facilitates student participation in learning activities, specifically the use of case studies, brainstorming, role-playing, and videos to achieve optimal learning outcomes,” said Dr Kabiru.
UTB RESEARCH AND ITS CONTRIBUTION TOWARDS RAISING AWARENESS
Dr Hajah Roslynna recently submitted a proposal on renewable energy production to the Council for Research and Advancement in Technology and Science (CREATES). She is also working on three PhD projects where she is currently researching tidal energy resources in Brunei’s water, on top of two projects on biomass energy technology.
On how she thinks this research can potentially benefit the students, the university and ultimately, the country, she said, “I think many are still unaware of the unfolding climate disaster. The world continues to irresponsibly exploit the planet’s natural resources. We need to take action to ensure our future generation will have the luxury of at least a comfortable livelihood. As a technological university, UTB has a great opportunity to lead the technological innovations in the country towards a sustainable future.”
Dr Roslynna was also involved in the drafting of the Brunei Darussalam National Climate Change Policy (BNCCP) and is one of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) resource person for the ASEAN Need Based Finance on Climate Change.
Meanwhile, Dr Aida Maryam is actively involved in research projects revolving around the development of sustainable food based on local medicinal plants. She is also studying antioxidants and anti-cancer activities in new functional food products; how their formulation, physicochemical, phytochemical, nutritional, stability, and sensory properties can be further analysed to incorporate them in future medical treatments.
“The research has given awareness and insight to the postgraduate and undergraduate students of the university on the benefits of local medicinal plants. Initially, some of the students are not exposed to the vast number of medicinal plants that are available in the country. However, as they are involved in the projects, they become more aware and develop interest in local and exotic medicinal plants,” said Dr Aida Maryam. This type of research has led the students to become more interested in planting, she said, particularly because preparing their own organic matter for such projects, rather than purchasing raw materials such as plants from the local market for instance, can save costs, while also being an environmentally friendly.
She added, “The final product from the research can also lead to several patents and commercialisation, as the research involves formulation, antioxidant analysis and sensory properties of new functional food products. This could lead to the health benefit and economic aspect of the country in relation to food industries. Overall, the research project significantly contributes towards achieving UTB’s vision to be a global university impacting society, and in line with the Brunei Vision 2035 – to be recognised for the country’s educated, highly skilled and accomplished people, with a high quality of life and a dynamic, sustainable economy.”
UTB is actively collaborating with strategic industries for its curriculum development and research. On whether he believes that his research can benefit the UTB students, the university and the country, Dr Kabiru said, “Since research is one of the crucial indicators for universities seeking global rankings, research projects with industries could add to our university research outputs in high-impact journal articles, leading to increased readership and higher citation counts. The output of this research could also be used as a teaching aid by those lecturers teaching the research methodology module, facilitating teaching and learning. Consequently, it could assist the government in developing and implementing policies for the country.”
PREPARING UTB GRADUATES FOR THE FUTURE
Assistant Professor Dr Rozia binti Haji Adenan, who is currently teaching Architecture under UTB’s School of Design (SDe), has previously worked in the field of architecture, resulting in an in-depth knowledge of the architectural sector and what to expect from it. Her work experience allows her to impart her expertise in professional practice acquired unto her students.
“Having been in the industry, I have a good perspective of what to expect when students start working after UTB, particularly as young architects. Guidance in preparing them to be industry ready is vital in my teaching,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dr Aida Maryam said she believes in instilling a sense of determination among UTB students, the future of the country, apart from being steadfast, organised and motivated to complete tasks or challenges that may arise in their lives, which one day will help improve the Sultanate’s development and economy.
“Students are the next generation leaders. I myself am one of the UTB academics who is devoted to producing marketable graduates that will help build the economy, and creating ideas and solving problems through research,” said Dr Aida Maryam.