Heriot-Watt University Malaysia Academic and Students Promotes STEM-Based Education Through ChemE Car Competition



The recently concluded 4th Junior Chem-E-Car Competition 2019 was co-organised by The Institution of Engineers, Malaysia (IEM) and Sekolah Kebangsaan Putrajaya Precinct 18(1) at Dewan Seri Seroja, Putrajaya.

About 60 teams of primary school students, including teams from 3 international schools, participated at this 2-day event on 9-10 October 2019. Each team comprising 4 students was divided into subteams of 2 students who competed in the car performance and poster presentation categories.

The former involved design and construction of a small car made of reusable and/or recyclable materials such as ice-cream sticks, bottle caps, straws and “satay” sticks. The car powered by dry cell batteries had to undergo two challenges, i.e., passing through goal posts and knocking down bowling pins. In the second category, two students presented the unique features of their car and proposed a solution to mitigate or eliminate environmental pollution due to the utilisation and disposal of plastic wastes.

During the car performance competition, a team from Sekolah Kebangsaan Putrajaya Precinct 11(1) had their ChemE Car damaged. However, they managed to repair it while waiting for their turn to launch the car. This winner of the Young Engineer Award also faced another challenge when two members of the team barely overcame their nervousness as they presented the poster in English before two professional IEM judges.

The idea of running this competition was mooted more than 4 years ago by Dr. Nooryusmiza Yusoff who chairs the IEM Organising Committee of Malaysia ChemE Car Competition since 2014. This year, 8 chemical engineering and 1 actuarial science students of HWUM supported him running the competition.

At the Closing Ceremony, the Minister of Education, Dr Maszlee Malik said “The current Industrial Revolution 4.0 requires us to prepare children to cover the basic level of [STEM-based] education in the national schools. [This competition] encourages children to build [ChemE Cars based on] their creative thinking limited only to their own imagination. To all contestants, I congratulate you for your efforts. Let us continue to actively create and innovate, and strive to achieve a higher level of competitiveness.”

His message was seconded by the IEM Deputy President, Ir. Ong Ching Loon who said “In line with Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013 – 2025), The Institution of Engineers, Malaysia (IEM) has always strive to seek ways to invoke interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects to school children. STEM[-based teaching and learning] should not only be confined to classroom as [this ChemE Car Competition] will enhance a child's overall academic growth, develop early critical thinking and reasoning skills and subsequently will generate significant interest in the field of STEM in their future endeavours.”