Interview with New Staff: Dr Chitti Babu Baladhandautham and Dr Cheng Xinwei
FEED reporter Audrey Wee Li-Huey caught up with Dr Chitti Babu Baladhandautham and Dr Cheng Xinwei to discuss their new roles in the Faculty of Engineering this academic year. Photographs by Philip Ch’ng Zheng Ning and Alex Hew Jian Wei.
Dr Chitti Babu Baladhandautham
Dr Chitti Babu has an extensive background in the field in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. Since completing his education in India, he has been involved in research and post doctorate roles in India and Europe, including Italy, Czech Republic and Germany respectively. As a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and IEEE Power and Energy Society, his key research areas are power electronics applications in smart electricity grid containing renewable energy sources and low-power electronics design, including photovoltaic energy systems.
Having arrived in the country for the first time shortly before the beginning of the semester, Dr Chitti Babu finds the Malaysian food culture and climate highly compatible and to his liking. Recounting his previous experiences in Europe, he noted that the culture in Europe is different from Asian countries. For someone who enjoys cooking South Indian dishes, Dr Chitti Babu is pleased at the abundance of Indian restaurants in Malaysia.
When asked about the university, Dr Chitti Babu remarked favorably on the diverse background and cultures with students from different regions and countries around the globe.
“It is good to have this cosmopolitan culture for the students”
According to Dr Chitti Babu, teaching here is both challenging and motivating at the same time as he gets to interact with the students.
“I was born and brought up in a small village in India. In my village there was no electricity. I used to sit under the streetlight for examinations.
Dr Chitti Babu has chosen teaching to be his noble profession, as a way to contribute back to society.
Throughout the conversation, Dr Chitti Babu enthuses about the abundance of opportunities in the industry and higher education.
“In the present situation, the generation of clean energy is a highly demanded field of research, especially in photovoltaic and wind energy systems.
With his new role in UNMC, Dr Chitti Babu would like to teach new courses on smart grid and energy for postgraduate and undergraduate students. He also aims to develop facilities in the area of renewable energy systems as well as conduct research projects in power electronics, with the overall aim to strengthen the area of power electronics. As a lecturer, it is his intention to motivate students to be more project oriented in order to secure placements in the industry or research degrees in future.
Advice to students
Dr Chitti Babu encourages students to make the most of their university life as it is a once in a lifetime experience. According to Dr Chitti Babu, this is the time to get a good degree, good marks, and also to concentrate for a better career.
“Enjoy your university life. In the meanwhile concentrate on your studies to get a good placement, to get a good degree, to go for higher studies, or maybe a job in the industry.”
Dr Cheng Xinwei
Dr Cheng Xinwei is no stranger to UNMC and Semenyih. Having grown up in Kajang, she began her journey in UNMC as a foundation student back in 2007.
At first, Dr Cheng had the intention to pursue Chemical Engineering. However, an induction tour of the campus facilities sparked her interest in Mechanical Engineering. Hence began her journey in mechanical engineering, where she proceeded to complete her BEng followed by a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, recently completed in July 2011. Her research project involves modelling the combustion process and effects, especially in biodiesel and fuel. During her PhD, Dr Cheng has developed models to improve the accuracy of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulations, including chemical kinetics and thermophysical properties.
Dr Cheng takes us through her personal journey and the progression of her roles from student to staff. She explains that student life is more relaxed as they do not have to worry about a lot of things, so they are able to focus on their studies. Similarly, a PhD revolves mainly around the research being carried out. On the other hand, there are many aspects to consider being a member of the staff. For example, a lecturer is involved in delivering lecturers, engaging with colleagues to enhance communication, and also administration work within the department.
“Communication among colleagues is very important so that we don’t have misunderstandings that propagate further on.”
Challenges in the near future
Dr Cheng anticipates her main challenges in the near future with regards to her new role as an academic staff.
“It is important to allocate time accordingly for the lectures, work, and parts of research. Of course during the semester we have to spend a lot of time doing lectures and we might not have time for the research part. During the summer time, we can reorganise. There are no lectures so we can spend more time on research.”
There are a lot of new challenges for Dr Cheng, as she has to pick up new systems and adapt to some changes. For example, the tutor tutee system is different from when she was a student where tutor tutee meetings were not fixed on a weekly basis.
Another one of the changes mentioned would be the use of moodle. Prior to this, the university had been using a different learning platform during her undergraduate studies. During her time as a PhD student, she had rarely used the platform as they were not required to attend lectures or download lecture notes.
Advice for students
“I think students nowadays are a bit timid, sorry to say. Especially if they are challenged, they will say things like: Why is it so difficult? Why can’t we do this? I’m not going to do this.
But an attitude to embrace more challenges will make them more prepared in the industry later on.”
by Audrey Wee on Thursday, 3 November 2016
Filed under Featured Articles tagged with Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering