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A Haven for Students in Batu Kawan, Penang
Published:  Jan 15, 2024 3:59 PM
Updated: 8:01 AM

Give town planners large swathes of vacant land to plan something out and they will be able to make a "dream town".

That is what Bandar Cassia in Batu Kawan, Penang, has become, where UOW Malaysia students enjoy a suburban lifestyle of well-planned boulevards that prevent traffic congestion, neat rows of commercial outlets ringed in broad pedestrian walkways and convenient modern shopping amenities.

Once a part of Penang's agricultural backwaters, the state government began plans for a satellite town there in 1990.

By 2014, after the second Penang bridge was completed, rapid development followed when award-winning developers such as Paramount Property went in to shape an urban landscape that echoed the concepts of modern living.

UOW Malaysia took a bold step as a prime mover, becoming the first university to build a campus in Batu Kawan.

A mere 500m stroll from the campus is a light retailing complex of about 200 shoplots built around a trade and exhibition centre.

Aerial view of UOW Malaysia, Batu Kawan Campus

Here are clinics, pharmacies, convenience stores, chic cafes, restaurants and even nasi kandar joints.

Right next to that is a 10ha park (about the size of seven FIFA World Cup football fields) with a jogging track around a large pond.

If more extensive shopping is needed, the Design Village Outlet Mall is 300m's walk from UOW Malaysia's gate.

This award-winning mall is a quaint, low-rise affair where shoppers walk along open corridors with lush trees growing in the middle.

The mall has 150 outlets housing a variety of international and local brands, both premium and high street from fashion to beauty, sports, home, restaurants and lifestyle cafes.

A little over 1km from UOW Malaysia's Batu Kawan campus is Ikea Batu Kawan, which has a built-up area of almost 40,000sq m, giving the campus community a taste of Swedish retailing with a supermarket to boot.

"More developments are underway, and UOW Malaysia's campus here is almost directly in the heart of it.

"Rather than becoming a district of skyscrapers, the township is shaping into a spacious landscape of mostly low-rise buildings, broad avenues and boulevards," said UOW Malaysia's Head of Operations (Batu Kawan) Associate Professor Dr Yeap Gik Hong.

Assoc Prof Yeap said where a campus is located has a deep impact on students' years in their tertiary studies.

"When your alma mater is in a good place, your years in university will be filled with happy memories.

Vibrant study & lounge area for students

"The positive influence of living in a well-planned township while pursuing tertiary studies will give students such a sense of pride and belonging that they might feel a tinge of sadness when it is time to graduate and leave the campus," he added.

To match the modernity in Batu Kawan, UOW Malaysia's campus buildings here are also futuristic, employing curves and angles instead of tangent rectangular lines.

Built to be a green building, natural lighting fills most of the inner space while the building has a compass position in such a way with the rising and setting of the sun so that it will help the people inside stay cool.

The 10-acre campus boasts 23 classrooms, two modern lecture theatres, two smart classrooms, a co-study lab, seven computer labs, an internet-of-things lab, two science labs, two examination halls and an expansive library with amply seating areas equipped with power points for teams of students to power their gadgets and hold discussions. 

Yet the true power of the campus lies in its ability to be a technological and innovation hub for engineering students: it is less than 3km from the latest industrial zone of Penang with multinational and large local corporations of the highest technological calibre.

This 2,680ha zone houses Boston Scientific, Bosch, ViTrox, Flextronics, Dexcom, Hewlett-Packard, Micron, Western Digital and so many more.

"We work closely with many of the corporations and we meet their engineering and IT heads regularly.

"They are our industry partners and through them, UOW Malaysia is always on top of the game in engineering courses.

"We have the ability to tailor-make our engineering and computing programmes to fit the latest technologies and advancements happening in the industrial sector. This ensures that when engineering students graduate, they are already skilled in the latest technologies," said Assoc Prof Yeap.

Come the industrial training phases for engineering and computing undergraduates of UOW Malaysia in Batu Kawan, it is only a short drive to high-tech factories where the students follow the lead of engineers and work to solve real-life problems.

"In high-tech environments, there are always problems to be solved, solutions to find that speed up a manufacturing process by maybe seconds, improve quality by 0.25% or enhance industrial or even environmental sustainability.

"It is challenging yet rewarding to be a part of the process of development and it is a source of pride for UOW Malaysia to see our engineering students in Batu Kawan getting a piece of the action," smiled Assoc Prof Yeap.

To get a full picture of courses offered by the Batu Kawan campus' Centre for Pre-University Studies, School of Engineering, Computing & Built Environment and the School of Business call the campus at 04-563 6000 to make an appointment with education advisers there and visit the place. 

This article is provided by UOW Malaysia.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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