The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the world for the better. PIC COURTESY OF WRITER

WHEN I was an undergraduate, I supported open-book examinations. Many, however, did not.

During my early school years, I had to memorise essays for exams. While this honed my memory, it did not help me develop critical thinking, which is a much-needed skill.

Students were drilled to memorise subjects for the sake of passing examinations.

When I was a part-time teacher in a private education centre, I was amazed by the critical thinking skills of students there.

Most of them could skilfully solve problems that even part-time tutors could not.

The age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is catching up. We will be left behind if we do not start making changes now.

The First Industrial Revolution was powered by steam and water which drove the plantation sector. The Second Industrial Revolution focused on electricity that contributed to mass factory manufacturing and production.

The Third Industrial Revolution, meanwhile, was about computers and technologies which saw the rise of automation and the digital world.

4IR is all about data technology — artificial intelligence, robotics and complex levels of data analyses and automation.

In schools, students are taught to memorise and this needs to change. The future workforce does not need to memorise or calculate better than the computers. Computers are built by men to ease their burden and not to take over their lives.

What we need in the future workforce are people who can think, analyse and solve problems. So the skills we need to teach in schools are critical thinking, problem solving and ideas generation.

The future is about taking massive data and making it better and easier to understand.

When I was an industrial train-ee at a food factory, I took lab scale data, extrapolated it and produced one pilot scale instead of many trials. I interpolated several research and development trials to identify the suitable quantity needed for the desired results. This is basic data analysis. With the data and information available in 4IR, we can do wonders.

4IR will impact all sectors. It also has an impact on my sector — building services construction engineering. Three-dimensional (3D) printing and precast are examples of greener technology that is faster and economical. Building Information Modelling can utilise data formulae, and past successes to create 5D simulations, which are 3D models with cost and time analysis.

These software have the ability to design, model, coordinate, simulate and calculate. We can use the technology for presentation, detect crashes, outcome testing/simulation, an dcalculate physical and engineering quantities. The possibilities are endless.

In 4IR, the winners are those who can look back, think forward and create for the present. If you can’t fit a huge camera lens in a compact smartphone, make it up by using multiple smaller lenses.

Change is constant and we have to abide by that. Change your mindset and thinking about the way things been done for years. Embrace new ideas and innovations.

A new revolution must be accompanied by new resolutions. Make a change and see the difference.

Happy New Year.

Low Jun Ying, Kuala Lumpur