KUCHING – Three Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus academics were recently awarded for their contribution to the community.
Dean of the Faculty of Business and Design, Associate Professor Dr Lee Miin Huui, and lecturers Dr Ngui Kwang Sing and Dr Voon Mun Ling received the Vice-Chancellor’s Community Engagement Award for 2015.
The award, presented by Swinburne University Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Linda Kristjanson, recognises outstanding initiatives relating to engagement with the industry, community, government and alumni.
It acknowledges achievement towards fostering deeper engagement at the university, in creating new and innovative opportunities, ideas, relationships and partnerships for the future.
Lee, Ngui and Voon successfully delivered the Social Innovation Internship subject last year with an increasing number of international student enrolments, providing a unique experience within the diverse local cultural environment of Sarawak.
The subject was a result of a memorandum of understanding, signed in August last year between Swinburne Sarawak and Habitat for Humanity International, a global non-profit organisation that strives to improve access to decent, affordable housing.
It was developed following the collaboration to design and deliver a credit-bearing subject that integrates classroom learning with community practice.
The subject provided experiential learning on social enterprise and community work, and served as a platform for knowledge exchange and engagement for academics, practitioners, students, university, organisation and community as a whole.
Its major assessment component is a consulting project that requires students to work in teams to analyse and recommend actions to improve Habitat’s loan recovery rate.
The project gave the students an exposure to deep-rooted socio-economic issues that affect lower-income families and displaced individuals. They also learnt about the challenges a social enterprise faces in overcoming resource-constraints, building community goodwill and mobilising volunteers in a coordinated manner.
Field work assignment, where the students worked at Habitat home-building sites and experienced first-hand the process of constructing a house, enhanced their learning.
Last year, the number of students enrolled on the unit grew to 65 students, including six from Swinburne’s Australian campus. The students, of different background and nationalities, were enrolled on different programs ranging from engineering to business and social sciences.
In 2014 and 2015, Swinburne Sarawak donated a total of RM50,000 to fund Habitat’s home-building projects. In 2014, the fieldwork coincided with the Borneo Build Blitz, the largest home-building project undertaken by Habitat in Malaysia, where the students spent six weeks preparing concrete foundation and exterior walls for 14 houses. They were joined by more than 500 local and overseas volunteers, who completed the houses in six days.Last year, the students completed a single-storey two-bedroom house in four weeks.