By giving students access to the latest big data solutions, TAR UC saw an opportunity to harness their talent to support Malaysian economic growth, while setting them up for success post-graduation.
Working with IBM, TAR UC deployed IBM® Power Systems™ servers to support a new Big Data Analytics Lab, where students can take part in initiatives aimed at boosting SMEs’ businesses and R&D activities.
Attractsnew applicants and research investments to the university
Distinguishesstudents in crowded job markets by equipping them with in-demand skills
Contributesto the Malaysian economy by helping small businesses flourish
Business challenge story
Kick-starting student futures
Universities have evolved: to prepare students for life after graduation and stand out in a competitive higher education sector, they now offer far more than just lectures and assessments. Instead, many institutions aim to equip post-graduate students with leading-edge skills and experience by connecting them with industry.
One such organization is Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), a large private university in Malaysia. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ng Swee Chin, Vice-President for Academic and Research at TAR UC, explains: “With digital technologies sweeping into Malaysia, we identified an opportunity to contribute to the country’s economic growth while delivering greater value to our students. How? By providing big data analytics tools to our students, and encouraging them to use the technology to help small, local businesses flourish.”
TAR UC decided to establish a Big Data Analytics Lab for undergraduate and post-graduate students undertaking research and teaching programs. The university planned to invite SMEs to team up with undergraduate and post-graduate students to develop proof of concepts designed around their individual business needs, bringing cutting-edge technology to local companies and giving students valuable industry experience.
Global support for local industry
While searching for the right partner to help realize its vision, TAR UC connected with IBM to understand the advantages of IBM Power® Systems for big data analytics use cases, and the university’s team was impressed.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ng Swee Chin comments: “IBM made by far the most compelling offer of the companies we looked at. They clearly had a deep understanding of the relevant technology, and put together the most cost-efficient architecture proposal of any of the companies we approached while planning our lab.”
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ng Swee Chin continues: “The proposal included four IBM Power® Systems servers providing higher capability, in a smaller footprint, and at a lower cost, than competitors. The fact we had previously worked with IBM on setting up our technology Center of Excellence in 2011, and been very satisfied with the outcome, also helped win us over.”
TAR UC deployed IBM Power Systems S812LC and IBM Power Systems S822LC servers as the basis of its new Big Data Analytics lab, along with a new Hadoop System from long-term IBM business partner Hortonworks. The university worked closely with a local IBM team, which resulted in faster responses and shared design values.
“We continue to benefit from the excellent support provided by IBM Lab Services for our new Power Systems servers,” says Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ng Swee Chin. “Access to local IBM resources is especially helpful, ensuring that we always have technical support on hand.”
In the past 18 months, more than 12 SMEs have engaged in proof of concept projects with TAR UC and its post-graduate students, with some already entering pilot stages. Currently, the university and its students are busy with three different projects: Smart IoT, Smart Agriculture, and Industry 4.0.
Dr. Ng Swee Chin explains: “The Smart IoT project features EzRide, a student-created mobile app which enables students to check the arrival and departure times of campus buses in real time, helping them to coordinate their daily schedules. Our students are very excited by this application, and we think that the underlying technology has great potential in the commercial sector.
“For Smart Agriculture, we are working with the University of Beijing to optimize the cultivation of ginger crops in Malaysia. With video analytics, we can track how well ginger grows in different areas and soil conditions, and have discovered that it fares best in hilly areas with good drainage. This project could boost local food industries.
“For our Industry 4.0 project, we’re collaborating with Kian Joo Can Factory. Power surges at the plant were causing machines to overheat, disrupting the production line. We are assisting the company with the development of a predictive modelling system to monitor metering, control electrical loads, and optimize power use to eliminate these issues.”
Growing the economy, one project at a time
By teaming up with IBM to set up its new Big Data Analytics Lab, TAR UC is elevating its position among higher education institutions.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ng Swee Chin elaborates: “With our new Big Data Analytics lab in place, and the backing of a company like IBM, we are showing current and future students that TAR UC is the place to be. Students see that we can offer them real industry experience, and the chance to work with some of the most innovative companies in the world, both now and after they graduate.”
TAR UC’s partnership with IBM delivers valuable industry experience for its students, and the chance to work on commercial technology projects large and small. Students have responded very positively to the experience offered by the Big Data Analytics lab, and several plan to feature their projects in academic coursework, or publish in peer-reviewed journals.
“The chance to tackle local-level business projects with world class technology presents an exciting set of challenges for our students,” says Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ng Swee Chin. “Some of them even plan to publish their findings. All of this represents a huge boost to their value when they enter the job market. If they can say they’ve worked with cutting-edge IBM technology in a business environment, and even point to published evidence of their success, they immediately become a much more attractive prospect to any potential employer.”
As well as benefitting the university and its students, TAR UC’s Big Data Analytics lab initiative is predicted to have a positive impact on the Malaysian economy.
“Local business people are very excited by these IBM-backed projects,” says Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ng Swee Chin. “With this kind of technology at their disposal, and with the help of our highly-talented students, they can create and capitalize on all sorts of new business opportunities.”
TAR UC already has several new initiatives with IBM in the pipeline, exploring machine learning, attending bi-yearly Hadoop and IBM knowledge exchanges, and participating in expertise sharing sessions between local and international businesses.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ng Swee Chin concludes: “We are very proud of our work with IBM, and are happy to have them as a collaborator. With their help, we can spark new growth for the Malaysian economy while putting TAR UC on the map as an innovator.”
About Tunku Abdul Rahman University College
Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) is a non-profit, private university college in Malaysia, named after the country's first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. The school was founded in 1969 by the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), becoming a university college in 2013. TAR UC operates five branches across Malaysia, with a student population of over 27,000, including students from Indonesia, Taiwan, Maldives, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, South Korea, Singapore, the United States and Papua New Guinea.