Malaysia Space University in the Making?

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If Alabama, US has Space Camp for kids, some people have bigger ambition for Malaysia, which is building the region’s first Space Science University for tertiary students. Yesterday, a co-partnership between a local company and a foreign investor is said to be in the planning to build an RM6.1 billion tertiary institution focused on space research and engineering.

A site in Kota Tinggi, Johor, spanning across 2,500 acres has been identified as a possible site for the so-called Universiti Sains Angkasa Lepas Malaysia (UniSam).

If the plan does materialize, Malaysia will become the only third country in the world to have a space university, after the United States’ Embry Riddle Aeronautical in Florida and France’s International Space University in Strasbourg.

Malaysia Space Science University - Universiti Sains Angkasa Lepas (UniSam)The local company with the said ambition is identified as Next Systems Sdn Bhd, headed by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Noor Faizal Abdul Samad.

According to Noor Faizal, the university will be equipped with the latest, state-of-the-art space science laboratories. Renowned experts in related fields will be recruited to man the operation and management.

Once completed, the university will have eight faculties – Mechanical Engineering, Space Engineering & Aeronautics, Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Computer & Robotic, Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Geological & Planetary as well as Mathematical & Astronomy.

The field of aerospace and aeronautical engineering become high subjects of interest after the launching of the country’s first man to the space, Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor. More and more students are now considering space related engineering courses as their tertiary field of choice in the university. However, high cost and investment have retarded the country’s further plan to send another man, Major Dr. Faiz Khaleed, who is in the pipeline to become the country’s second man on space.

The Minister of Higher Education, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin responded to the space university news that no application or proposal has been forwarded to the ministry.

“I only read it in the newspaper,” he told the media.

A space science university? A bold step indeed.

(Image: NYTimes.com)

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