Swinburne Sarawak appoints Professor Ajay Kapoor as new PVC of Research
July 11, 2018
Professor Ajay Kapoor, Swinburne Sarawak’s new PVC (Research – Sarawak).
KUCHING – Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus (Swinburne Sarawak) recently announced the appointment of Professor Ajay Kapoor as the university’s new Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) of Research.
This is a joint appointment between the university’s Sarawak campus and its main campus based in Melbourne, Australia. As PVC (Research – Sarawak), Professor Ajay will spend substantial amount of time in Sarawak.
Professor Ajay, who until now held the position of Pro-Vice Chancellor (International Research Engagement) at Swinburne University’s main campus in Melbourne, Australia, is no stranger to Malaysia. He had a short stint at Swinburne Sarawak as the Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) from September to December 2017, and has been facilitating and leading collaborative research between the Sarawak state government and colleagues from the Sarawak and Melbourne campuses in the area of smart farming and oil palm plantations.
He spearheaded the establishment of an interdisciplinary Electric Vehicle group with both Swinburne campuses where the group successfully developed a MoU with the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) which led to the establishment of Transport Innovation Centre.
As the new PVC (Research – Sarawak), Professor Ajay’s immediate priority for the Sarawak campus is to strengthen their research portfolio. Referring to the last five years as the ‘start-up’ phase, he said Swinburne Sarawak has achieved so much to lay the foundation for research.
“We are now ready for the ‘scale-up’ phase where we want to increase the quantum and quality of research at Swinburne Sarawak. In the next three years, I want to double the number of research students, the number of publications and patents, as well as double the number of citations.”
“In line with the research vision of transforming industry and shaping lives and communities, we want to be a partner of choice for industry in the region and a key partner for wealth and job creation initiatives of the Sarawak state government,” he said.
Touching on collaborations between both Sarawak and Melbourne campuses, Professor Ajay addressed initiatives such as reciprocal visits by staff from both campuses to develop friendly working relationship and identify facilities and expertise, adjunct appointments for key researchers at both campuses and provision of jointly supervised PhDs with outcomes such as joint publications and grant applications.
Moreover, at the Sarawak campus, he wants to create a window to Swinburne Melbourne’s research and innovation eco-system as well as Melbourne’s global partners, including a dedicated area with 24/7 high quality video connectivity to enable staff and students at both campuses to interact freely.
Professor Ajay further commented that the future of research and development (R&D) globally will emphasise on transforming industry and changing lives and communities for the better. To prepare for this, he opined that the challenge for Swinburne Sarawak is to identify the right industry to develop which does not involve heavy competitions from traditional players like China in manufacturing industry and the US for high tech innovation.
“The Sarawak government has identified digital economy, hydrogen economy, bio-diversity and smart farming as the key areas. Therefore, both campuses are working in these areas to address scientific and technological issues, as well as to innovate and commercialise,” he said.
Professor Ajay obtained his Bachelor and Master degrees in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University (BHU) and completed his PhD at Cambridge University, UK. Prior to joining Swinburne University in Australia in 2007, he held academic positions at various universities including BHU (1987 – 1990), Cambridge University (1990 – 1993), Leicester University (1994 – 1995), Sheffield University (1995 – 2004), and Newcastle upon Tyne University (2004 – 2007).
Professor Ajay is a Fellow of Engineers Australia and a member of the Editorial Board of the prestigious IMechE Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit; International Journal of Surface Science and Engineering; and Transport Problems – International Scientific Journal.
To date, he has contributed 291 outputs including publications, books, patents, reports and student theses. Some of the outputs have garnered awards such as the 2017 and 2013 Sir George Julius Medal, Engineers Australia; 2014 RTSA Australian Best Post Graduate Thesis Award; 2008 WCRR Best Paper Prize; and 2005 IMechE TA Stewart-Dyer-FH Trevethick Award.
With Professor Ajay’s appointment, Swinburne Sarawak also saw the formation of the School of Research and Swinburne Innovation Malaysia Sdn Bhd (SWIM), a new subsidiary company and commercial arm of the university.
Among the focal areas for the School of Research are to double the number of postgraduate research students, increase research impact, grow research funding and promote better collaboration with Swinburne Melbourne and the rest of the world. The School will initially be led by Acting Director Associate Professor Sing Muk Ng and assisted by Dr Heidi Collin as the Acting Deputy Director.
Meanwhile, SWIM will be headed by Chief Executive Officer Associate Professor Wallace Wong. SWIM aims to encourage industry in Malaysia to invest in R&D activities undertaken by researchers at Swinburne Sarawak. Industries that undertake research with Swinburne through SWIM will be entitled to tax breaks that will encourage collaboration and ensure projects are focussed on value adding research outcomes and research impact for the industry partners to improve their innovation and competitiveness.
For more information about Swinburne Sarawak, visit the university’s website (www.swinburne.edu.my), Facebook page (@swinburnesarawak), Instagram (@swinburnesarawak), Twitter page (@Swinburne_Swk) or YouTube channel (Swinburne Sarawak).