Curtin Malaysia’s GEEC to enhance teaching, research in renewable energy


(From left) Lab technician Siaw Teck Ung, Mienczakowski, Pottas, Lenin and Lee in a photo-call during their GEEC tour.

MIRI: The Faculty of Engineering and Science of Curtin University Malaysia has opened its ‘Green Electric Energy Centre’ (GEEC) slated for enhancing the teaching and research in renewable energy and also adding to its range of laboratory facilities.

The GEEC is equipped with state-of-the-art data loggers to obtain and store energy data harvested from fixed-axis and dual-axis tracking solar panels outdoors, and also a control system connected to an indoor benchtop wind turbine simulator and an outdoor wind turbine.

The wind turbine simulator can be used for laboratory-scale simulations to study the feasibility of full-scale projects, simulating different wind speeds and environmental conditions. Students and researchers can then evaluate data and graphs generated from the simulations at a number of workstations in the laboratory.

The centre is also equipped with a wind power generator, which in addition to demonstrating how wind power is harvested and distributed, it also powers up all the lights in the laboratory.

Present at the recent opening event were Curtin Malaysia pro vice-chancellor, president and chief executive Prof Jim Mienczakowski, chief operating officer Pieter Willem Pottas, acting dean for the Faculty of Engineering and Science, Associate Prof Vincent Lee, and also dean for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Associate Prof Lenin Gopal.

According to Mienczakowski, the GEEC is an excellent facility and also a timely one, in light of global trends towards the development of green energy and the focus on sustainable development in engineering and science.

He said since the establishment of Curtin Malaysia 20 years ago, its Faculty of Engineering and Science had grown significantly and built a strong reputation, not only for its strong suite of course offerings but also for its emerging and distinctive research profile.

“We have made remarkable progress in a number of key areas, particularly in our leadership in innovative learning and research and development in emerging technologies. This centre will certainly help us build on those strengths,” he said.

Mienczakowski pointed out that in order to deliver world-ranked courses to an equivalent standard as those available at Curtin’s main campus in Perth, Australia, Curtin Malaysia must have the suitable facilities.

Meanwhile, Lenin said the GEEC would be rapidly expanded to its full potential in the coming months to include a micro-hydropower station and the installation of additional equipment such as solar photovoltaic emulators funded by the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA), and more solar panels.

“This centre complements our range of teaching and research facilities, including our new Engineering Research Laboratory currently being constructed, very well. It offers our electrical engineering students, in particular, a greater, more technology-rich environment and learning experience,” he said.

Other innovative teaching and research facilities at the Faculty of Engineering and Science include its Keysight Reference Laboratory developed in collaboration with Keysight Technologies; the Schlumberger Petrel GIS Laboratory in partnership with Schlumberger; and the Digital Maker Hub with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDeC).

These are in addition to the faculty’s wide range of over 20 laboratories related to the various engineering and science disciplines, including applied geology, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, civil and construction engineering, electrical and computer engineering, software engineering and cyber security.

All these facilities enable Curtin Malaysia to continue forging a reputation for producing work-ready graduates, allowing its campus community to embrace new technologies as well as new ways of learning, and shaping its focus on high-impact research.

Curtin Malaysia is also geared towards assuming a key role in helping to develop Sarawak’s bio-economy through the operation of the newly-completed RM60-million pilot plant facility at the campus – funded by the Sarawak government; and enhancing research through the Curtin Malaysia Graduate School, Curtin Malaysia Research Institute (CMRI), Curtin Highway Research Institute (CHIRI) and other research centres.