Saturday, April 29, 2017

Varia: Expensive Positivity and Trust

As much as I would like to forget things that upset me, time and again, I will always be reminded of such things. Uttering words like, be positive, is easy to say but realising them requires conscientious efforts particularly when there are may elements that are beyond one's own control.

Story 1:
One of these is on some recent initiatives that I thought was important involving something I know in some depth. Naturally I'm happy to help but somewhere along the way, things went sour. It seems whatever I have suggested, which I would have thought being important (and in fact less expensive), has not been taken up. One of which I got embarrassed with an international colleague. The other one, was with my local friend, with whom I have great respect and I had a small discussion with him last night. I sincerely do not know what actually went wrong. Perhaps I am considered unfavourable by some and thus all my advices and suggestions seemed to go unheeded. If so, I wished I was not part of it from the beginning and saved me from some troubles. Since I have only a few years of my career left, let me just say what I wish had happened, even if this falls on deaf ears.

Given the importance of an initiative, perhaps to an organization, if not the nation, self interests should be secondary or be made aligned to this importance or goal. Such initiative often requires support of the appropriate community and hence engagement with the community should have been made earlier where voices of the community are heard. By doing so, one has the effect of bringing in their greater commitment. Invitations are best made personal since they may not know the organizer and the intent of the organizer. On promises when made even verbally, it is best to stick to these as much as possible, otherwise it may have caused embarrassment and wasted efforts. To run the initiative as if these are instructions made to be followed does not run well with academics. In some ways, I felt that is how the thing has been run so far with minimal discussions., if not none. Academics tend to value the opinions of their peers particularly when the matter involved is within their expertise. In this case, this does not seem to be happening.

As I ended my conversation with my colleague, the feeling was for us to proceed with what we do best in our individualistic ways as usual. As my colleague said, may be we are ignored by our local colleagues but if we do our job well, others (internationally) will (eventually) recognise what we have done well. On a slightly personal note, the event had the idea in me reinforced to be overly cautious with some individuals.

Story 2:
Both of me and my other half have worked hard to earn our livelihood but every now and then, there are just people who would stir trouble, mainly for their benefits. It is hard for us to trust anyone

At a recent wedding function that we went to, again I was reminded of something that had hurt me earlier in my career. I saw the person (an ex-student of mine) who caused me to lose a huge sum of money in some investment scam. Maybe in a way, it is my own fault to believe in such devious scheme (and I have learned my lesson) but the thing is that I had trusted him on the basis he had run a legitimate computer business. So, at the wedding, I was surprised to see him since I have thought he had gone on the run since for several years when he was no longer in contact with me. I had the opportunity to confront him at this wedding but I didn't since it is simply inappropriate then. Note: I do still want my money back and look for future opportunities to see him.

My other half had other kinds of experience of people swindling. She had crossed paths with people claiming to be doctors but had not totally finished their medical training and hence was practicing illegally. I find this to be disturbing as these individuals may endanger the lives of others but I guess these days, nothing is surprising anymore. A recent incident of such individuals has been reported to the authorities and it seems there are so many cases of such medical frauds. Again here, is the trust that we give to others have been violated and one has to on high alert always.

Trust is indeed something very expensive today and should not be given away easily these days. Despite our psyche requires us to be "bersangka baik", there seems to be pressure on withholding those thoughts.

Friday, April 21, 2017

MICEMS Boost Visit of Polito's Delegation

Yesterday's event was the highlight of the week for me and the institute. Politecnico di Torino's Rector Prof. Marco Gilli made a visit to UPM and MICEMS' office at INSPEM. Prof. Gilli was accompanied by Prof. Riccardo Adami who was one of the speakers for EQuaLS8. The Italian Ambassador to Malaysia, His Excellency, Mr. Mario Sammartino also joined the Polito delegation to UPM, which was a pleasant surprise.

Here are the pics on their arrival at the Chancellory building. The delegation was received by Prof. Dr. Ing. Renuganth Varadarajoo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Industry & Community Relations) and the INSPEM management.

Inside the Chancellory building, discussions before the arrival of the UPM Vice-Chancellor.

The arrival of Prof. Datin Paduka Dr. Aini Ideris and the discussions  and exchanges of documents and gifts with the Polito delegation.

Some group photos in the Chancellory building.

Arrival at INSPEM and MICEMS building.

Discussions in INSPEM meeting room and the group photo.

The visit to Muzium Warisan Melayu.

Now for some contents of the visit. At the Chancellory, there was a presentation of the Letter of Intent as an Addendum of the earlier MoU. We have now renewed commitment of INSPEM in supporting MICEMS and the forthcoming stationing of Polito's researcher in the MICEMS office in INSPEM. The Rector Prof. Gilli also stated the idea of expanding the collaboration further to include Engineering and Architecture for which Polito is well known for.

At INSPEM, the Director Prof. Noor Akma presented some information on the institute as well as the activities surrounding MICEMS. This is followed by some highlights of the research carried out with MICEMS. The Rector Prof. Gilli in the discussion told us some history of Politecnico di Torino which is known to be well connected to the industries (see Wikipedia article). Let me mention also here the famous Fiat car industry is based in Turin and the name Fiat comes from Fabbrica Italiana Automobiliti Torino (see Wikipedia article). He continues to speak on further enhancing support for MICEMS with an active researcher here in the institute, to be realised before the end of the year. He also spoke on the growing complexity of research in science and engineering, which often requires interdisciplinary skills and hence the need to open up to various different disciplines for which MICEMS can partake on. A specific mention of big data research and information security was made. He also spoke on the possibility of joint PhD programs. At the end of the meeting, Prof. Renuganth who was with us in the meeting, mentioned his strong support for the suggestions and informed us that he will personally see through the success of this initiative.

On the final point mentioned by Prof. Gilli above, I had some informal discussions with Prof. Adami during lunch. He reiterated the idea Prof. Lamberto Rondoni had mentioned some time ago on some interdisciplinary PhD programs. They have existing joint programs of such nature that can be seen in and He foresee that MICEMS will be the nexus of something bigger. My guess that these programs will be tailored accordingly with our available strength, the interest of both parties and both natural and engineered evolution of the initiative. INSPEM will do well to support such joint programs and further introduce multidiscplinary elements in the institute and further enhance our international prominence.

Let us now do our best.