Thursday, 3 October 2013


(this article of mine was published in NST on 26th September 2013)

DEAR Mr Prime Minister, I know you are in the United States for a three-day working visit focusing on innovation ventures.

I could not agree with you more when you said innovation was the way forward.

What can attract a large group of international students if not for the world-famous innovations that come out from our higher education institutions? Yes, it is innovation.

But what is innovation and how does it relate to the sustainability of our economy, society and country?

Innovation is an act of modifying technology to add value economically and socially for self-enhancement and commercialisation.

Creating a new technology is not necessarily an innovation; creation would be a better name for it.

How can innovation sustain the survival of our society and country? By being renewable in nature.

Innovations come from ideas. which, in turn, come from the brain of an individual or a group.

As long as we can ensure the rebirth of our society, innovation is always a possibility.

But innovation, and sustainability for that matter, will only remain a mere possibility unless we can ensure our future generations possess the brains and are smart and strong enough to have ideas that can lead to innovations. In other words, we need a clever and smart society to innovate.

Believing that anybody can innovate is immature, in the sense that, although it can accidentally happen sometime and somewhere, the element of luck is always there to govern, so it is more like a gamble.

This trial and error of innovative work, where innovators try things without having a scientific reasoning behind it and principles to guide it, consumes so much money, time and energy, but with a low rate of success.

We cannot afford to lose another dime.

Please Mr Prime Minister, I am not being pessimistic, in fact, I am full of confidence that innovation is what we need, innovation is what we can do and innovation is what we must do. That is the way forward.

If I'm not confident or believe that our society can change and improve, I would not be writing this letter.

What I'm trying to say is this: if we want to do it, let's do it properly as there are best practices or proven methods that we can follow. In other words, there are sustainable procedures in doing innovations. It is funny this thing called sustainability; you sustain only if you can sustain.

I believe that if we want to innovate, our innovators must first understand the basic principles that lie behind and the make-up of the technology we are about to innovate.

But look at the realities we are seeing. For example, our universities are still at the 200 to 300 spot in the world and our industries are lacking in experts who can work hand in hand with those from the Silicon Valley once they come here, say after we invest billions of ringgit in them

What we need is a knowledge revolution to innovate.

I do not believe in cutting corners or doing short cuts. We can excel, but we need to work hard, persevere and be brave.

This is what I have learned from my experiences at Imperial College London while doing my PhD and when I was developing my group of students, who produced an engineering software of international standard that can perform on a par with foreign software.

My experiences have convinced me that innovation is the way forward, but they also convinced me that only the smart ones can innovate.

So, please, Mr Prime Minister, while you are working hard on the innovation issues, bring us also the required knowledge revolution.

Dr Airil Yasreen Mohd Yassin,senior lecturer, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Johor

Read in NST , click HERE

1 comment:

azura.jalal said...

'Necessity is the mother of invention', kata orang putih. Jadi takpalah bersusah payah dahulu supaya otak kita dipaksa untuk berfikir utk menyelesaikan masalah.
If we can make our students better than us in terms of quality & innovative thinking, then the education is complete, to my mind at least.
Salam hormat,