Materials Engineering@USM

So I found out that starting from this September intake, one of the requirements to enter Bachelor of Engineering (Materials Eng.) at USM is to pass an interview. Now this is the first time(to my knowledge) that passing an interview is required to enter this programme so I can’t really say much on the interviewing part but I feel compel to write about Materials Eng. as a whole and Materials Eng. programme that is offered at USM.

Materials Engineering

Materials Engineers are those that uses the knowledge of structure-property correlations to design or engineer the structure of a material to produce a predetermined set of properties. This is not really a famous programme in Malaysia but I can assure you that the career opportunities is large. Some of the field that materials engineers could enter are production line, semiconductors, automotive industry, aircraft industry, rubber industry, biomaterials, polymer composites, nano materials, metallurgy and many more. But the most lucrative and famous of all is corrosion engineering. In short Corrosion Engineering is the specialist discipline of applying scientific knowledge, natural laws and physical resources in order to design and implement materials, structures, devices, systems and procedures to manage the natural phenomenon known as corrosion. For me, this programme is not that hard(no programme is hard if you study) and really interesting.

Materials Engineering@USM

Materials Eng. at USM is a 4 years programme(minimum of 4 years but you could and may be forced to complete it in a maximum of 7 years) offered by the School of Materials and Mineral Resource Engineering, USM. Lectures mainly would be delivered in English but frankly the slides are in English but the language used to deliver the lectures would be up to the lecturers. Some lecturers delivers lectures in English while some delivers it in Malay and English (we don’t have any international students in my batch so Malay was occasionally used but if there are any international students, I’m pretty sure that the lecturers would deliver lectures only in English). Unlike some universities in Malaysia, all lectures would be held in big lecture halls (like the ones in movies except with not so comfortable chair)

During orientation, it was revealed to us by the Dean of the school that although we were given 12 options during our application to USM, only those who placed programmes offered at the school(materials,polymer and mineral resource eng.) in the top 3 option will be considered. At least that was the policy during my time of application. Now the dean is changed so there may be a few change in policies. For the record, the current dean is Prof. Dr. Zuhailawati Hussain.

The minimum MUET requirement to enter this programme is a Band 2. To graduate from a Malaysia public university, you would have to accumulate 4 credits in English Language courses. Those who obtained below Band 3, Band 5 and Band 6 would have to go through different University level English Language courses. At USM, those who obtained below Band 3 would have to take *LMT100, LSP300 and LSP404 while those who obtained Band 5 would have to take LSP404 and LHPxxx and those who obtained Band 6 have to take 4 credits of LHPxxx.

Students would also have to accumulate an extra 3 credits (credits that aren’t offered by the school) to graduate. You can choose either co-curriculum or/and international language(s). International language that is offered at the engineering campus are French, Japanese, Mandarin and Arab.

USM Engineering Campus

All engineering programmes at USM are offered at the engineering campus. It is located in Nibong Tebal, Penang (about 30-45 minutes drive from the main campus in Glugor). There’s a shuttle bus that comes and goes from the eng campus to the main campus every weekday. It is a relatively a small campus so walking about is not really a big deal. There’s no shuttle bus available to take you around campus so you either walk, cycle, ride a motorcycle or drive to class. Yes, drive. The good thing about the engineering campus is that unlike the main campus, you could easily obtain a car or motorcycle sticker with the fee of only RM1. Even first year students could get a sticker. At the main campus, only certain people could even be considered for a sticker.

First year students are compulsory to stay in a hostel. You would be placed in a room of 3 people. In the next session, you could choose to stay in either a room of 3, 2, or 1 person. Actually you have to compete for a room by collecting MyCSDs (merits). There are 3 ways of securing a room(getting an automatic placement) namely joining PALAPES, becoming a member of Majlis Penghuni Desasiswa (college residents council) or getting an APEX MARA Scholarship. There are many advantages of staying in a hostel like cheap room, you don’t have to pay for electricity and water bills, free internet and close to classes so people actually do compete to get hostel placement. Don’t worry, USM have no curfews. You could go in or out anytime you like.

Academic Freedom

Academic freedom by definition is the belief that the freedom of inquiry by faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy as well as the principles of academia, and that scholars should have freedom to teach or communicate ideas or facts (including those that are inconvenient to external political groups or to authorities) without being targeted for repression, job loss, or imprisonment. My writing is gonna emphasise on the bolded part of the definition.

According to University and College Union, academic freedom include the right(s) to

  • freedom in teaching and discussion;
  • freedom in carrying out research without commercial or political interference;
  • freedom to disseminate and publish one’s research findings;
  • freedom from institutional censorship, including the right to express one’s opinion publicly about the institution or the education system in which one works; and
  • freedom to participate in professional and representative academic bodies, including trade unions.


It is undeniable that in this country academic freedom is almost non-existence. There is a degree of freedom but when it comes to ideas or opinions and such that are inconvenient to policy of the ruling party, then academic freedom is just a nuisance. This is not an ideal state in a free and democratic society. The academic community should be given full freedom to conduct researches and to publish the results of those researches regardless of it being convenient or not. When the academic community aren’t given full freedom to conduct research and to publish the results of their research due to it being inconvenient to a certain group of people’s interest, then who are going to point out flaws made? The people are being fooled into thinking that all policies made are perfect because no one (especially the academic community) says anything against it. How could the academic community says anything against your policy if doing so would result in adverse effect upon them? How would they dare say anything if doing so may risk them their jobs?  Or worse losing their freedom?

If you say that their research and result is undermining democracy, you should first bear in mind that democracy isn’t a perfect concept. Once people thought that aristocracy is the ideal way then they opted for democracy. Democracy isn’t perfect. How can we see the flaws in the system if you won’t allow results of research that is against democracy to be published? (Note here that I am not anti democracy and that I am merely using democracy as an example). How could we see the flaws in anything be it systems or policies if freedom of academic isn’t upheld? How could we learn from mistakes if mistakes aren’t allowed to be pointed out? You charge people who you deemed demining democracy yet you championed and uphold laws that are clearly against the concept of freedom and democracy itself!

There are no perfect systems or policies in the world and it is the job, nay responsibility of the academic community to point out their flaws. Freedom of academic is a right and not a privilege. Governments around the world should champion this right as it is essential to the development and betterment of the human race.

What was written is my opinion and as a human being, I make mistakes. I am open to opinions, critics and disagreement.