The rapid development in Malaysia has caused a great demand for professional civil engineers in the region, making graduates from the discipline highly sought after by employers.
Monash University Malaysia School of Engineering Head of Discipline (Civil Engineering), Professor Khu Soon-Thiam said the job prospect for civil engineers is very good in Malaysia.
“Malaysia not only has numerous ongoing infrastructure and road building projects, there are also large scale maintenance projects and LRT line expansions. These require a number of civil engineers,” he said.
Apart from that, with sustainability being the current buzzword today, he said students today, are exposed to a new dimension of civil engineering– how to construct while being conscious about sustainability. This new approach has also open up more career options for graduates, as they are now better trained for the different types of civil engineering jobs.
Students are exposed to the latest materials and procedures, which work towards cost efficiency, faster construction rate, and causing less impact to the environment.
The shortage of civil engineers in Malaysia may have been caused by the brain drain phenomenon, which sees many overseas-trained Malaysian graduate stay on to work internationally. He recommended that this problem can be solved with students getting educated and graduating locally. “When students are educated in Malaysia, they will gain exposure to the companies here, during their internships. As they see the projects these companies are involved in, there is a higher likelihood of them joining these companies,” Prof Khu explained.
When asked what the traits of good civil engineers, Prof Khu shared that they are the ones who are not afraid to get their hands dirty.“Successful civil engineers are alwayscurious about the built environment they live in,they are interested in buildings, roads, bridges and tunnels.
“They must also be serious about wanting to make a difference to generate a better environment,” he said.
He also shared that in the civil engineering line, it is essential that engineers be able to communicate and work with people from myriad backgrounds.
“Overcoming language barriers is quite the norm, as construction workers whom you work with are from various parts of the world.
Apart from that, civil engineers are alsothe mediators between the clients, who are paying for the project, and the architects,” he said.Consequently, it is very important to be able to strike a balance betweenclients wanting to reduce costs, and meeting the requirements of the architects.
The civil engineering discipline in Monash Malaysia not only prepares its students academically, it also provides them with the soft skills training to ensure that they are ready for the job market.
For example, students are often assigned into groups, where they will have to work on assignments with peers, chosen by the academics.“Students are taught group work through a simulated work environment, where they are tasked to work with people they may not be close to or fond of,” Prof Khu said. Another aspect students have to learn is the financial aspects of managing a project.
“We need them to understand finance, or at least the balance sheet, as they need to be on site ordering materials for construction.
“If they do not understand the financial aspect, they will have ordered too many or too few materials and it will affect the progress of the construction,” he said.
In the final year, students also need to study contract law, to understand the legal aspect of construction works.
“I hope with the different skill sets, our graduates will be versatile enough to deal with situations, when they enter the workplace.At Monash Malaysia, students go through the same curriculum and train the exact same way as their counterparts in Monash University Australia,” he said.
To find out more about our progams at the School of Engineering, Monash Malaysia, please visit www.monash.edu.my/engineering.