Crown Prince tours UBD’s Faculty of Science building
Danial Norjidi & Faza Suraj

HIS Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office took a tour around Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD)’s new Faculty of Science (FOS) building as part of a series of visits to project sites around the Brunei-Muara District yesterday.

His Royal Highness was welcomed upon arrival by Pg Dr Iskandar bin Pg Hj Petra, the Dean of the Faculty of Integrated Technologies (FIT), and began the visit with a briefing on the building’s features by Haji Zaini Ali of Arkitek HAZA.

A ‘Human Musculoskeletal Motion Reconstruction’ present-ation was then delivered by Lt Dk Nurhayatul Filzah Pg Damit from the Performance Optimisation Centre, Ministry of Defence.

In her demonstration, she detailed motion capture analysis through the use of a motion camera system that produces a skeletal model in 3D based on a test subject wearing an attire linked to a computer. Her studies focus on enhancing performance, injury management and rehabilitation.

The usual test subjects are soldiers who often carry heavy loads, whereby she sees how the load affects their posture while being influenced by fatigue.

The system can be used to deduce which part of the body requires more training or extra support with a regiment prepared by the strength conditioning coaches.

Another presentation followed, this time by Owais Ahmed Malik pertaining to an ‘Intelligent Assistive Rehabilitation Moni-toring System’.

Rehabilitation Management, he explained, is done through small portable sensors which, when worn, allow for bodily movements to be monitored.

It allows information on muscle state or joint condition to be attained; information which can tell how much a user has recovered from his or her injuries. Recovery state is shown as a percentage and, depending on the analysis, doctors can decide on the next step of the treatment.

Following these two presentations, His Royal Highness proceeded to view demonstrations of various experiments by the undergraduate students undergoing a Bachelor of Engineering.

Among the demonstrations were experiments on hydrogen fuel cells, a bridge, an infocommunications system, a robot project and a search and rescue tool.

A briefing on energy-related research activities conducted by UBD then took place, before His Royal Highness concluded the visit with a group photo and signing of the ‘Lembaran Kenangan’ parchment.

The FOS building, a project worth just under $21 million, is divided into four separate blocks, one of which is central, framed by the remaining three in triangular fashion. According to information shown yesterday, the plan is to use Block A for geophysics and research, Block B for prototyping and chemical engineering and Block C for system engineering and postgraduates, while the central Block D is to be used as faculty administration and a student lobby.

Speaking to the Bulletin yesterday, UBD Associate Professor Dr Azman bin Ahmad highlighted the significance of the new FOS building, saying, “It is the right step towards developing science, technology, engineering and other science-related programmes, not just for the university but also for the country.”

“We are mindful of His Majesty Government’s desire for our university as well as other higher education institutions to produce a lot more scientists, and basically more Bruneians who will go into the scientific field.”

He expressed the university’s belief that by having the work space provided by the new building, they will be able to promote this kind of initiative, and will be able to enrol more students not only at an undergraduate level but also at the graduate and PhD levels.

It will also allow these students to carry out research projects that are significant to Brunei’s interest in areas such as energy, food security and health sciences.

The Associate Professor affirmed that the university is truly grateful to the government for providing them with funding which has allowed them to not only have the new FOS building but also the Institute of Health Sciences and library, which he said amounts to about $45 million.

There are also three other projects, including an extension to the Institute of Education building, a new lecture theatre and sports complex. “We are hoping that construction for these buildings will commence sometime this year,” he said.

“We feel that this is the right step towards us promoting science in Brunei and hopefully through the existing of this new building, it will encourage curiosity in what we are doing here and inspire them to have a passion for science, technology and engineering.”

He shared that UBD is currently in talks and on the cusp of an agreement with a research and development (R&D) company that has shown interest in setting up shop at the FOS building. The agreement stands to be largely beneficial for both parties, as the company will make use of UBD expertise, and give opportunities to graduates to take part in their research projects.

The Bulletin also spoke with Pg Dr Iskandar, who said, “We are going to see other faculties invited to set up here, such as geoscience and the research institute. This building is meant to act as a hub. Nowadays, the way we see it, engineering shouldn’t be simply about engineering; it should be multi-disciplinary,” he conti-nued.

“We should be looking at not just electrical, mechanical or whatsoever. We have to invest into it a background even in business, entrepreneurship, leadership and so on. Not only that – there should be other sciences, mathematics and so on.”

“‘Integrated Technology’ – these are bright words that represent how we should see engineering,” he said.

“The way we run the engineering programme here is not like many other universities, which tend to run their engineering courses as classic programmes. Here, we study integrated disciplines with a new system that matches our multi-disciplinary approach.”

On the building itself, he commented, “It has a very open-concept. The design is very inviting to students of different disciplines to come here, discuss and brainstorm ideas together.”

This, he added, encourages cohesion between students. - Borneo Bulletin (27 May 2014)