Government presented with Five-year Plan to improve Innovation Score

The Faculty of Engineering has presented the government with a five-year plan to improve the country’s low innovation score. This was in reaction to the low rating Malta obtained in the EU innovation scoreboard.

According to Professor Maurice Grech, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Malta, such a score can only improve if the number of postgraduate students increases and these students will eventually diffuse to the various sectors of industry. Another necessary ingredient is for the government to fund joint projects between the University and Industry.

Professor Grech was speaking yesterday during the opening of the annual Engineering and Information Technology exhibitions organised by the Faculty of Engineering and the Board of Studies for IT. The aim of the exhibitions is to bring to the attention of Industry and the public, the top-notch projects done by the students and the research areas being studied.

The exhibitions were opened by the Hon. Dr Austin Gatt, Minister of Investment, Industry & Information Technology, while this was the first public event at the University attended by the new Rector, Professor Juanito Camilleri.

During his address, Professor Camilleri made particular mention of the students: “Be proud of your achievement and be comforted in the knowledge that the skills and know-how that you have acquired here will undoubtedly lead to successful careers in the world of practice.” He said they would surely be able to cope with fast changing technologies because they would take with them from this University “… a first-class attitude, a rigorous analytical eye, a flexible approach to problem-solving and a culture of life-long learning.”

A student from each course also addressed the guests. Charmaine Demanuele was chosen as the Engineering student with the best academic performance. The student award was given by RS Components, a division of The Catalogue Company Ltd. Presentations from Industry were made to the Department of Electrical Power and Control Engineering by Abertax Quality Ltd and to the Department of Manufacturing Engineering by Methode Electronics Malta Ltd and Toly Products Ltd.

While appreciating the fact that in spite of the country’s deficit, the government still allocated Lm300,000 for research, Prof. Grech said, in his address, that the Faculty took this as a symbolic gesture of appreciation and that more funds will be dedicated to research as from this year.

“Industry needs the seed money to encourage it to take the first step and participate in research programmes with the University as a partner. Programmes such as EUREKA are promising and we do hope that industry takes advantage of the opportunity being offered. “The university will definitely support such activities but it desperately needs funds to finance research and to attract and maintain valid researchers,” Prof. Grech said.

The Faculty of Engineering, the Faculty of Science and the Board of Studies for IT, all have an important role to play in the structuring of the country’s economy and in maintaining industry’s competitive edge, he added. In spite of this, Prof. Grech, said there are times when industry shows scant confidence in Malta’s researchers which is in contrast to the trust expressed by the researchers’ peers on an international level.

“For our country to flourish, the faculties at the university, industry and the government have to appreciate the urgency of working hand in hand,” he noted.

The path towards this collaboration could be made smoother if the Faculty of Engineering and the University were to embark on a PR exercise to raise greater awareness about the extremely valuable research going on at the university.

“The university must improve its image. Most academics work extremely hard but are not appreciated, and this hurts us, to say the least,” Prof. Grech said.

The projects exhibition at the Engineering Building, tal-Qroqq will be open to the public today (Thursday) and tomorrow between 17:00hrs and 20:00hrs and between 21:00hrs and 13:00hrs on Saturday while the IT Exhibition is open today (Thursday) and tomorrow between 16:00hrs and 20:00hrs.

For further information contact Prof. Maurice Grech on 79212139.