(continues from PT 1)
The year was 2000. We were grouped in a room on the second floor of the Structural and Material Laboratory of the Faculty of Civil Engineering, UTM. The building was designated as DO4 and was (still is) the pride of the faculty. Here where all the researches related to structural engineering were conducted. In the lab, colossal concrete and steel beams were bent to obtain the stresses by processing the measured strains; measured by the strain gauges.
I myself tested three full-scale composite beams and tens of push-out tests for my Master thesis. The topic was on the behaviour of composite beams with half-slab system. To add to the ‘difficulty’, the beams were then stiffened by C-channel at the lower flange. My supervisor was Assoc. Prof. Ir Dr Mahmood Tahir who is now a Professor and the Director of Steel Technology Centre (STC) where currently I am one of the fellow. When I think about it, I have been working with Prof. Mahmood for 13 years now since he was my supervisor during my internship in 1998 and he was also my Final Year Project supervisor in my final year of undergraduate study in 1999. He has been my boss for 13 years and I thank Allah for that. I will tell you later why.
In the room, there were Dzul (Dzulkarnain Ahmad) and Chalok (Sallehuddin Shah Ayop); both were my friends from undergraduate. Dzul is now a lecturer at UNISEL and guess what, he is writing up his PhD thesis under my supervision. Chalok just came back from Scotland a couple months ago after finishing his PhD and now teaches at UTHM. Then, there were Lan (Dr Norhazilan Md Noor) who is now my colleague at the department and Ijad (Tuan Haji Mokhtazul Haizad) as well as Khatta (Mohd Khatta Marwah), now both working in UNISEL as lecturers. So Dzul, Ijat and Hatta are all working in the same place.
I remember Khairul, presently an academic staff of UTHM who last news I heard has pursued his PhD and someone I just met last month during the sale and marketing of ERCAD, that was Fadzil (Fadzil Mat Yahaya). He is now a senior at UMP. There were also our seniors in the room; Azman who is now a Professional Engineer and Irwan (Dr Mohd Irwan Juki), currently the Head of Department of Structures and Materials at UTHM. I have a special relationship with Dr Irwan; not only we shared the same supervisor for our Master’s thesis but we also shared a room in London for six months when he went for the attachment at City University London. So, Chalok, Dr Irwan and Khairul are all working in a same place, what a small world isn’t it?
And finally, we had Ibrisam (Dr Ibrisam Akbar aka Dr Ben) as our senior who is now teaching at UTP and occasionally visited my blog leaving behind constructive yet sensational comments which I take as compliments. Dr Ibrisam did his PhD with Deric Oehlers whose book I read thoroughly during my Master and PhD undertaking. In fact, I almost went for Deric Oehlers if not because of Professor David Nethercot. I will tell you about this later.
So these were us, doing our Master's degree at UTM. As you can notice, except Azman, we are all now lecturers; some of us got our PhD from overseas and some local but that is not the point; the point is we are the new generation of Malaysian university's teachers who differ from our previous generation in one aspect; our first and second degrees were obtained from UTM hence locally whilst most of our seniors got theirs from overseas. So we were the ones born by Malaysian universities thus who really know the good and the bad of our higher educational system. We will talk about this later.
Lets get back to the story which I promised in Part 1 that is the event that changed my life. My life changed when one day Lan came to tell me in that exact room to watch this movie called A Beautiful Mind and as far as I know, it changed not only me but Dzul, Chalok, Ijad and Lan himself (I was not sure about the others). To be continued….