Construction sites become outdoor classroom for Curtin Malaysia engineering students

Miri – 27 September 2019 – Two construction sites at Curtin University Malaysia (Curtin Malaysia), which are part of a new phase of campus expansion at the university, continue to be ideal and convenient ‘outdoor classrooms’ for its engineering students.

Through visits to the sites for a 2-storey engineering research laboratory and new campus cafeteria, the students are able to observe construction in progress and connect theories and concepts acquired in their classroom learning with actual applications at the sites.

The most recent group of students to visit the sites comprised 52 final-year students in the Bachelor of Engineering in Civil and Construction Engineering programme studying a unit in Integrated Design and Construction.

A second group of 86 third-year students studying a unit in Reinforced Concrete Design are scheduled to visit this week.

An earlier group of students visited the sites earlier in the year to learn about survey works on the sites and how pile points are marked according to the structural drawings. They were also shown the precast reinforced concrete piles and learned the correct methods of handling and stockpiling them on site.

For hands-on experience, they performed an overall check of the piles to ensure their soundness before piling began, and continued to record piling data as works progressed.

Civil and Construction Engineering lecturer Dr. Sharon Yee Jia Huey said such site visits greatly enrich the students’ learning experience as they give them valuable first-hand insights into construction site works and engineering applications.

Meanwhile, Head of the Department of Civil and Construction Engineering at Curtin Malaysia’s Faculty of Engineering and Science, Associate Professor Muhammad Ekhlasur Rahman, said Curtin Malaysia values authentic learning and is committed to helping students develop industry-ready skills and enhance student employability through embedding work-integrated learning (WIL) in all units.

WIL involves providing structured and purposefully designed learning experiences that blend theoretical concepts with practice-based learning, as well as engagement in workplace and community settings where students interact and network with industry and community partners.

The idea to involve students in the projects came from Chief Operating Officer Ir. Pieter Willem Pottas who is of the view that the projects are reasonably large projects and present a perfect opportunity for students to get practical experience right at their doorstep.

Pottas said the new buildings, including a newly-completed Curtin Trading Room for online stock market training for business students, are designed to be iconic campus landmarks built using some new and innovative construction techniques.

The engineering research laboratory will complement the new Faculty of Engineering and Science building completed in 2016. Designed to encourage and facilitate collaborative and inter-disciplinary research, it is part of the university’s strategic plan to enhance learning and teaching by offering comprehensive engineering facilities and the innovative and efficient use of practical teaching space.

The new cafeteria, meanwhile, is being built to cater to a growing campus community and will have a seating capacity of 400. Strategically located along one of the campus’ major pedestrian thoroughfares and between the library, bus terminal and major lecture halls, it is designed as a single storey building with open plan concept to maximise views and natural light as well as increase social interaction.

Further campus expansion projects include a 3-storey Digital Centre of Excellence, two blocks of 4-storey student accommodations, and a new rugby pitch.

Curtin’s Bachelor of Engineering in Civil and Construction Engineering is a comprehensive combination of civil engineering and construction engineering and offers a good balance of theoretical background and practical experience throughout the four years of study.

The course has extensive support from industry players and teaching staff come from reputable universities all over the world. Their specialised knowledge run the gamut of civil and construction engineering, ranging from geotechnical engineering, structural and construction management, to transport engineering and water and environmental engineering.

Meanwhile, graduates of the course are equipped with the practical skills necessary to begin working effectively as graduate engineers immediately after graduation and many have found work all over the world.

The course is identical to that offered at Curtin’s main campus in Perth and other Curtin international campuses. Due to its excellent quality, it is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Council (EAC) of the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM), as well as Engineers Australia (EA) and the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

University project engineer briefing students on the new campus cafeteria construction.


Lecturer explaining below ground structural elements such as interceptor sump, ground beams and slabs and backfilling.


Students view progress of new engineering research laboratory.


Students pose for group photo with lecturer, project engineer, safety officer and contractor.