I have been a staff member of the Department of Architecture at UTM since September 1997, first as a tutor then as a senior lecturer until today. Joining UTM as an academic at a high point in my professional career as a Part III RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architect) qualified architect still feels an immense personal sacrifice, since this meant I had to forego the life-long aspiration of becoming a successful architect in practice by serving as a full time academician who educates and nurture the nation’s professionals. Nonetheless, even until today, I still maintain active and direct links with the professional institutions and the relevant industry based upon the strong understanding that this will be key to developing a better future in education, practice, and industry. I would see myself as the vital bridge or connection between the key aforementioned stakeholders. This is also a vital long-term strategy. Internationally, I am a Registered Architect with the ARBUK (Architects Registration Board United Kingdom). At the national level, I am registered with LAM (Lembaga Arkitek Malaysia), albeit as a graduate member, and constantly keeps abreast with the professional and educational development in Malaysia by attending LAM CPD courses. I was also recently appointed a pioneering member of LAM’s Architectural Programme Accreditation as well as its Programme (International) Validation Panels. My current appointments as a Research Fellow at KALAM (Pusat Kajian Alam Bina Melayu) Centre of Excellence and head of one of the Faculty’s Research Group (Design Processes, Practice and Management Group) are deemed appropriate in view of my deep interest on current developments education and learning, knowledge management, applied processes and technology and professional practice as well as sustainable and resilient approaches to built environment in general. However, the most important of all is how to integrate or ‘connect’ those issues and relevant domain knowledge in order to advance for the betterment of Man and his ‘constructed’ environment. As such, I see my role as an important catalyst for effective ‘connectivity’ between various stakeholders in the building industry, practice, research and academic institutions. For example, a PhD student under my supervision had held on-site discussion with BIM (Building Information Modelling) experts working on the massive Sungai Segget Re-development Project to explore the usability of BIM in building design development. ‘Connectivity’ also meant reaching out to other industries in a multi-disciplinary manner, such as my lecture and interview programme with PROTON (March 2011) undertaken through shared interest between architecture and automotive manufacturing in the areas of Design Development Processes. During my tenure as the Third Year Studio Coordinator (BSc. Arch LAM Part 1) 2014, we advocated an innovative Centre for Flood Relief and Mitigation (CFRM) building project in various sites in Kota Tinggi as a key architectural studio design exercise. The project was meant to bring greater understanding on the social and environmental effects of flooding to the building process and to encourage students to generate innovative design solutions with cutting-edge technology and techniques. Important institutions involved with Flood mitigation activities like Bomba and State Health Agencies and Non-governmental Organisations were invited to events pertaining to the studio project.
Furthermore, for a certain period and in my capacity as the Head of UTM Architectural Programme (From June 2009 until July 2011), I was actively involved in policy and programme development both at professional and university levels. This gives me greater awareness of the inner workings of the profession, industry and academia as well as new requirements and standards higher educational system as stipulated by MQA (Malaysian Qualifications Agency). It also enabled me, as the then Head of Architectural Programme, to facilitate the early development of the new Masters programme. The programme was intended to bring new direction to architectural education by formally inculcating ‘scholarly’ and research thinking approaches within the overall framework of new courses. Thus, the virtues of being in a position that continuously connects the profession, industry and education are immeasurable not only now but also for the foreseeable future. This is why I firmly believe that being a professionally trained teaching staff and one that is constantly ‘connected’ to professional institutions and the relevant industries is vital for the development of UTM as an institution that is wholly mindful of the professional and skilful requirements as well as, quite importantly, its social obligation to the constructive advancement of the nation’s human capital. As part of my teaching ethos, I often use practical guidelines and codes of conduct as well as knowledge in practice in imparting relevant knowledge to my students about the world of design and practice. These augment theoretical knowledge that is so fundamentally associated with formal, university education. A huge impetus to all these efforts came through the successful completion of a PhD from the University of Sheffield in April 2007 and later through Masters by Research and PhD supervision.
My critical take on the role of practice in a vastly changing world further resulted in conference proceedings entitled “The Future Role of Architects” (1999) and journal articles like “The Architectural Profession and the Building Industry: Treading the lines of limitation and opportunities” and “Shaping the Future of the Architectural Profession” (2002). Currently, the concern over the role of design in bringing about vital changes to our environment has led me to examining the nature of cognitive behaviour and processes in the realm of designers and designer-user interface. There are many important lessons to be learnt from studying design and design behaviour, especially from the point of view of uncovering and harnessing tacit knowledge and its role in decision making processes, creativity and innovation. My own personal PhD experience as well as supervision process I conduct upon my postgraduate students certainly provided me the methodical advantage in exploring the nature and implications of the Design Activities and Behaviour. A High Impact article in the journal Research in Engineering Design entitled “The Cognitive Construct of Design Conversations” (2013), reflected the kind of intensity and diligence required in uncovering the complexity of intelligent human interactions. I find such a stance indispensable, particularly with reference to the second ‘thrust’ of the country’s National Mission Charter that calls for the need ‘to raise the country’s capacity for knowledge, creativity and innovation and nurture ‘first class mentality’’.