Sunday, March 13, 2011

YES Leader Note: History IEM G&S-YES

How it Came About

The history of the G&S Section can be traced back to 1967. The idea of a G&S Section in IEM was first mooted in 1967 and a meeting was called for interested graduates and students. However, only ONE student turned up and the proposal was shelved. Towards the end of 1969, as a result of discussions to reduce the membership fees for Student members, the idea of a G&S section was revived. The chief catalysts were engineering graduates of University Malaya, the only local university to offer engineering courses back then. "Students felt Left behind. They wanted a younger group to work closely with the IEM Council, to find out more about training programmes and how to become a professional engineer," recalls Ir. Cheah Kok Cheong, the first Chairperson of the G&S Section. Representatives from the Engineering Society of UM met with Council members to discuss the matter seriously. Consequently, a meeting was called for on 28th March 1970. 11 graduate and students met with 2 Council members. This meeting resulted in the formation of a Protem Committee to initiate a G&S Section. The Section was later approved by the Council on 11th May 1970. A recruitment drive was then initiated in University Malaya. The Bylaws and Regulations were drafted by the Council in close co-operation with the Protem Committee. Prof. Chiam Teong Tee (an IEM Council member and lecturer in University Malaya then) was instrumental in helping to draft the by-laws of the section. The by-laws and regulations were modeled after similar Sections in U.K. and Australia." The Inaugural Meeting of the G&S Section was held on 28th June 1970 at the Lecture Theatre of Engineering Faculty, University Malaya. 53 Graduate and Student members attended and a formal resolution to form a G&S Section was passed unanimously. After some discussion, the By-laws and Regulations of the section was accepted unanimously as well. Ten Founding Committee Members were elected in this meeting, who later in the day held a discussion to elect the office bearers. The result was Ir. Cheah Kok Cheong was elected as Chairperson and Ir. Gurmit Singh as Hon. Secretary/Treasurer.


In the early 70s, G&S members were fortunate enough to be granted permission to use the premises of the Engineering Faculty of UM for their activities, from the late Tan Sri Datuk Professor Chin Fung Kee (founder of Engineering Faculty). This was allowed before the passing of the University and Colleges Act. Later on, most meetings for the G&S Section were held in the LLN office in Jalan Timor, Petaling Jaya. "In those days, being a committee member meant having to do a lot of work. There was no Secretariat back then," recalls Ir Cheah. At that time, graduates from University Malaya dominated the G&S Section. The first three Chairpersons were ironically former office bearers of the Engineering Society of University Malaya. As a new organization, the founding committee worked very hard to establish closer rapport with the main IEM body & Council. The committee also strived to layout proper plans in order to be recognized as an effective unit. The challenge back then was to attract more G&S members so that the section could be sustained. Nevertheless, the committees were successful in consolidating the foundation of the section. They were also successful in raising awareness among the Graduates & Students of the importance of membership in the IEM & the Professional Interview requirements. During the mid-70s, issues of unemployed engineers started to crop up. "There were no mega projects back then," recalls Ir. Hoo Hok Kim. Ir. Gurmit Singh noted, "Salaries in the government sector was a problem. Some engineers were paid as low as RM 700, lower than other civil servants." The G&S Section organized various career guidance talks for engineering graduates and undergraduates. The move resulted in engineering graduates being more prepared to develop their career in the engineering profession. Another major issue during that time was the Engineers Act. Ir. Hoo recalls, "It was a licensing issue. Professional Engineers were not allowed to sign." 29th April till 8th May 1977 marked another achievement for the G&S Section. The first overseas study tour to Thailand was organized by the section. Seven young engineers visited the Engineering Institute of Thailand, Department of Highway, Bangkok Metropolitan Water Works Authority and the Asian Institute of Technology. Starting from the late 70s, there were active participation in the G&S by engineers from the Drainage & Irrigation Department. Datuk Ir. Keizrul bin Abdullah, the present Director General of DID, was a G&S Chairperson in the late 70s. "The Graduate & Student Section was being ignored back then, " recalls Dato' Ir. Keizrul. After having been established for almost a decade, the G&S Section began attempts to gain better recognition from the IEM Council and the public. The G&S Section also began organizing courses on soft skills, among them on public speaking and project management.


Active participation in the G&S from engineers in DID and JKR continued into the early '80s. The biggest achievement perhaps must have been the first G&S Gala Dinner held at Merlin Hotel (now known as the Concorde); 52 tables were sold. This incidentally made a big "contrast" to the G&S Dinner the previous year, which was held in a KFC fast food outlet! Poor participation in the G&S was a major concern to the Committee then. The biggest issue during that time was perhaps regarding contract engineers. "Engineering graduates had to serve the government for 2 years, back then. After which the graduates had to apply for an extension. Graduate engineers were sometimes asked to leave even though they very much like to continue", says Ir. Lim Choo Hock. The G&S together with some of the contract engineers mounted a strong protest against the government's proposal to withdraw the accelerated pay scale of contract engineers. The protest succeeded. Furthermore, the effort allowed the G&S to gain foothold in terms of recognition. On a more leisure note, a badminton tournament was organized for members to fight for the Chiam (IBM President) and Lim (G&S Chairperson) Challenge Trophy. The Chairman for 1982/83 session, Ir. Cheng Kim Hua, spoke out against the Malaysian Society of Agricultural Engineers in the Malay Mail (12 January 1983). 'T was reprimanded by the Council for making a press statement about the formation. I waited for a response, but there was none. I had to come out with a statement because I believed a splintered body would only hinder the growth of IEM. It dilutes the time and effort spent by the engineers in many engineering societies..." recalls Ir. Cheng. Besides this, other significant contributions were the introduction of the first edition of the G&S Book on "Engineering Professionalism and Ethics" (EP&E) and the running of night classes for IEM/BEM Examination on Part I and Part II papers. On the financial, the team managed to lobby for increased allocation, which lasted even until today. In 1985, G&S became very much involved in Community Service, evidenced by the construction of a bus stop at Jalan Chenggai in Petaling Jaya. In 1986, graduate engineers were not allowed to use the title "Ir". Under the proposed amendment to the Registration of Engineers Act 1967, no person other than a registered professional engineer shall be entitled to use the title before his/her name or the abbreviation of "PEng". Prior to the amendment, the IEM Constitution under Section 2.5 allowed Fellow, Corporate and Graduate members of IEM to use the title. Recession in the '80s was a major concern. Employment and job opportunities were very limited. Engineering undergraduates were uncertain about their future in the engineering profession. The G&S continued to make strong calls for minimum wages, and for it to be compulsory for engineering graduates who served a 2-year contract with the government agencies. Again, the G&S received good participation from engineers in the civil service, in particular the DID. During this time, the G&S began organizing more activities, such as regular sports sessions, computer courses, talks and seminars, site visits and disco nights. The G&S also held discussion with unemployed graduates to look into ways to help them. "Employment back then was so bad that there were cases of engineering graduates having to work as fried kuey teow helpers at pasar malam..." recalls Ir. Yip Hing Wai. Late '80s marked the starting point for the G&S to fight for representation in the IEM Council. The foresight made the Committee worked hard to start the Electronic Board Bulletin project even though Internet was yet to be widely utilized in Malaysia. The G&S also improved relations with Student members; the chairpersons were always invited as guest-of-honour to the dinners hosted by Engineering Society of Universiti Malaya.


Ir. Rosaline Ganendra became the 20th Chairperson of the G&S in 1990, and the first female engineer in IEM elected to the chair. Her election was seen as a strong statement that members recognized the growing role of women engineers in the engineering profession, and encouraged participation in the Institution. With a lady at helm, the Committee started to reach out to students in local universities. They also started participating in the Conference for the ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organizations (CAFEO) in Manila. The formation of Young Engi¬neers for the ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organizations (YEAFEO) spearheaded by the IEM G&S held its first meeting in Brunei on 28 November 1994. It was chaired by Ir. Poobalan Mahalingam (G&S Chairman then), and the Young Engineers Exchange Programme and Outstanding (National) Young Engineers Award were suggested, among others. In 1991, Ir. Chuah Hean Teik, a lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering Universiti Malaya, took the spotlight as the first recipient of the IEM Young Engineer Award. In 1993, the G&S demonstrated its caring nature to the society by donating RM4.000 to SHELTER - a home for battered children. The G&S turned "green" in mid-90's; the theme for 1995 G&S Annual Dinner was "Environmental Green". The Committee organized a lot of activities including treasure hunt on wheels, visits to old folks home and regular sports sessions. Another major achievement was strong relations with universities, namely UM, UPM and UTM. The G&S also organized career guidance talks in view of the "shortening" of engineering degree courses from 4 years to 3 years. Mid-90's also saw the first G&S representative in IEM Council. Mean¬while G&S also received recognition internationally as the Committee was invited to the Philippines to help set up the Young Engineers of the Philippines (YEP). Towards the end of 1990's, the farsighted accomplishment was the introduction of G&S Retreat, which was to address the continuity issue and to discuss and decide the focus and objectives of the Section.


Sdri. Foong Pek Ling led the Section into the new millennium -with clear Vision & Mission. A G&S web site was also set up to allow and facilitate easy exchange and sharing of information. In addition, a new edition of EP&E Book was published. The current G&S Committee brought the Section to even greater heights. Among more than 20 activities organized over the 12 months in 2001, the "5 Meets" were of most significance. The Committee held its first meeting with the G&S from Branches, and Student representatives of Engineering Societies from universities within the Klang Valley. The Committee also had a dinner meeting with IEM Past Presidents and the Excomm. Members. Meeting with the other professional bodies was held early this year on 2 February 2002. Graduate Training has been the main focus since year 2000. A survey aiming at collecting members' opinion on the compulsory courses required under the new requirements (since 1 January 1998) was conducted in year 2001. Life-long learning or Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is believed to be the key to success. Various courses, workshops and talks have been organized. Apart from Graduate Training, Student Liaison was not neglected at all. In fact, the Committee managed to gather all engineering student societies within the Klang Valley to work together. One of the major inter-varsity projects is the Engineering Games 2002 to be jointly organized by three universities namely UPM, UNITEN & MMU Cyberjaya in October 2002. In addition, the Publications and IT portfolios have contributed significantly in keeping the members informed and updated on G&S development. The G&S Welfare Committee also conducted social activities for the benefits of young members. Incoming Chairman for session 2002/2004, Sdr. Clement Tan, foresees that Graduate Training will continue to be an important element of the Section's objectives. In 2004/2006 Engr. Suresh Yegambaram as chairperson, spread more activities to more of crowd. It was started IEM G&S more involved in community services project and served back to society.In this session also IEM G&S had get more support as volunteers from graduate and students. Moving to session 2006/2008, Ir. Yau Chau Fong as chairperson, graduate and students session had been branded to become Graduate and Students – Young Engineers Section or known as YES. This session also had gather all IEM G&S YES leaders all over branches in Malaysia in first national summit in Kota Kinabalu Sabah. Engr. Roland Ngeow Yen Wan was chairman in session 2008/2010. This session had successfully organized IEM YES Charity Dinner 2008. 60 tables was sold. The charity project focus was in Pondok Penyayang Raudah, Gombak when the young engineers manage to channel the natural water resources to this orphanage house. Engr. Roland also had manage to built more relationship between young professional with lots of activities between young professional alliance.


As June 2010, IEM G&S YES had celebrating 40th anniversary of establishment. The chairmanship has passed to Engr. Shuhairy Norhisham. With introduction of graduate affairs in portfolio, focus will more on graduate needed. The continues roles of IEM YES in IEM activities such as IEM Engineering Week, IEM Family Day and others, had drive this session to become more involvement in helping IEM main committee. Year 2011 also had become a history for IEM YES, when first 43 ASEAN young engineers had been register as Associate ASEAN Engineers.

By Engr. Navinderan Mageswaran

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