Op­por­tu­ni­ties across bor­ders

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - COURSE FOCUS -

UNI­VER­SITY of Southamp­ton Malaysia Cam­pus ( USMC) grad­u­ate Jeremy Fong gave an in­spi­ra­tional talk to par­ents and stu­dents dur­ing the uni­ver­sity’s Open Day.

Just a few months be­fore grad­u­a­tion, Fong se­cured a grad­u­ate job op­por­tu­nity with Rolls- Royce, a lead­ing aero- en­gine man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany.

It was not an easy feat as he had to un­dergo a bat­tery of tests and in­ter­views be­fore he was picked as Rolls- Royce’s new con­trols engi­neer at its Birm­ing­ham of­fice in the United King­dom.

Fong, who earned a MEng in En­gi­neer­ing Aero­space from USMC, shared how a dis­ap­point­ing sit­u­a­tion can be­come a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence and how he was just like any other stu­dent be­fore at­tend­ing uni­ver­sity.

“Ini­tially, I ap­plied to Nanyang Tech­no­log­i­cal Uni­ver­sity af­ter fin­ish­ing my A- Lev­els, but sadly, I was re­jected. I’m not go­ing to lie, Southamp­ton was my sec­ond choice of uni­ver­sity but it was one of the best de­ci­sions I ever made,’’ said Fong.

As he re­flected on his aca­demic ex­pe­ri­ence at Southamp­ton, some themes be­came ap­par­ent – tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for your own learn­ing and de­vel­op­ment, build­ing good re­la­tion­ships with teach­ing staff and friends, and learn­ing to man­age time and set­ting pri­or­i­ties.

“My first year in uni­ver­sity was an ad­just­ment pe­riod. I re­alised that uni­ver­sity is not school. There would be no more spoon- feed­ing of knowl­edge.’’

Fong then started tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for his own learn­ing – study­ing ma­te­ri­als be­yond the for­mal cur­ricu­lum as well as de­vel­op­ing an in­de­pen­dent crit­i­cism of the ma­te­rial and con­tent.

“Aca­demics can­not make stu­dents do these things. At best, they can pro­vide the knowl­edge base to stim­u­late stu­dents’ crit­i­cal think­ing, in­spire in­tel­lec­tual risk tak­ing, and en­cour­age in­de­pen­dent re­search. How­ever, ul­ti­mately, the ef­fort, mo­ti­va­tion and in­ter­est come from stu­dents them­selves.’’

Af­ter his first year with USMC, his hard work paid off when he be­came a con­sis­tent re­cip­i­ent of the pres­ti­gious Lloyd’s Reg­is­ter Foun­da­tion schol­ar­ship for be­ing the top three in his co­hort. The schol­ar­ship also cov­ered his tu­ition fees for the com­ing years.

In his third year, Fong and his batch mates tran­si­tioned to the UK cam­pus.

“I was pretty scared of mak­ing new friends and did not know how to fit in but my time abroad was the best ex­pe­ri­ence of my life.’’

He likened his fi­nal year to a marathon that was rid­dled with dead­lines and among them was his the­sis. For­tu­nately, his su­per­vi­sors were al­ways there to help him.

“I couldn’t think of any bet­ter su­per­vi­sors to have – Prof Phil Joseph and Dr Michael Kin­gan were al­ways there to help me even when that meant hav­ing Skype calls af­ter of­fice hours,’’ he said.

The Uni­ver­sity of Southamp­ton Malaysia Cam­pus, an in­ter­na­tional branch cam­pus of the Uni­ver­sity of Southamp­ton, is lo­cated in Educity, Johor. Es­tab­lished in 2012, the Malaysia Cam­pus of­fers world­class en­gi­neer­ing pro­grammes.

Of­fer­ing a unique stu­dent ex­pe­ri­ence, the uni­ver­sity en­ables stu­dents to spend their first two years in Malaysia and the fi­nal two years at a re­search- cen­tred uni­ver­sity in the UK.

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