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Iskandar picked for sustainable city project research


JOHOR BARU: The Iskandar Malaysia development region is one of the locations in the country selected for research on a sustainable city development programme, a joint effort between Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The other three locations are in Penang, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur.

UTM acting vice-chancellor Prof Mohd Azraai Kassim said Iskandar Malaysia was chosen due to its rapid growth, which also had developments that adopted the low carbon footprint concept.

"There is a host of developed countries that MIT can choose to work with, but MIT wanted to work with a developing country and that is why they chose UTM as its partner in the research programme," he said at a press conference here on Friday.

Under the five-year programme, UTM and MIT would carry out joint research work to equip urban and regional planners with the knowledge and skills to promote sustainable ways of developing cities.

The research would focus on specific themes and areas of sustainable cities and develop teaching modules and web portals on such cities.

Azraai said the programme would involve 50 scholars.

"A batch of 10 scholars from overseas will be deployed to UTM for a year, after which, they will return and another new batch of 10 scholars will come to carry on with their work. It is hoped that this programme will churn out more specialised professionals in the field of science and technology.

"These top-notch researchers will form a network of educators who will exchange ideas and expertise in developing a sustainable city that combines sustainability, safety, security and a unique identity."

He said the high-impact project would have an allocation of RM800,000 for its start-up costs under the University Research Fund.

A delegation from UTM, led by Azraai, left for Massachusettes, United States, to attend the sixth international conference of MIT Learning International Networks Consortium 2013 yesterday.

Among the highlights of the conference was the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between UTM and MIT on the collaboration.

The signing of the MOU would be between Azraai and MIT's vice-president Israel Ruiz. It will be witnessed by former UTM vice-chancellor Datuk Seri Zaini Ujang, who is now the Education Ministry's secretary-general II.

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