UCTS deputy vic-chancellor (Academic) Professor Dato Dr Sabarudin Mohd said Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof is expected the grace the event at 8am.
“There is another one in Kuching – the Tropical Peat Research Laboratory -which focuses on agriculture and environment, and how to increase productivity.
“But our focus is more on engineering and technology – how we can develop the area for the infrastructures, housing and roads,” he told a press conference at the campus yesterday.
Infrastructure development on peat was a challenging problem, he said.
Malaysia is the ninth country with the highest total area of peat lands – 2.6 million hectares. Out of this over 80 per cent is in Sarawak, five per cent in Sabah and 13 per cent in Peninsular Malaysia.
“Sibu has about 550,000 sq km of peat lands – the biggest in Sarawak. Therefore it is judicious to set up a research institute to develop soil investigation work, in-situ testing, sampling and laboratory testing; and to study the characterisations of basic, physical, engineering and chemical properties, mineralogy and morphology of peat lands,” he pointed out.
He said the School of Engineering and Technology, UCTS had identified geotechnical and geo-environment as one of its niche research areas on development of sustainable peat lands.
The school is planning to collaborate with Research Centre for Soft Soils (Recess) of Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM).
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between UTHM and UCTS to formalise the effort.
“The school also works closely with the State Works Department and Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).
“The proposed research institute shall play a central role in providing technical and scientific knowledge for sustainable development on peat lands, especially in Sarawak.
“The institute should aim to become the centre of excellence, providing research opportunity, expert advice, consultancy services and technology advancement,” he pointed out.
In conjunction with the launch of the new institute, the university would hold a one-day seminar on current issues of peat land technology, opportunities and challenges, especially on construction.
It is for everyone, especially those in the state agencies, local authorities, civil and geotechnical engineers, researchers in geotechnical engineering, contractors, consultants, and housing and road developers.
Dr Sabaruddin said three keynote papers would be presented at the seminar scheduled for Dec 1.
The speakers are president of Malaysia Society of Engineering Technologist (MySET) and head of Housing Research Centre, University Putra Malaysia (UPM) Dato Ir Dr Abang Abdullah; Deputy Dean for the Centre for Post Graduate Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Professor Dr Fauziah Ahmad; and head of Recess and UTHM Professor Dato Dr Ismail Bakar.
There will be about 10 technical papers to be presented, covering the latest issues, technology, materials and policies related to the development and construction on peat land.
“We believe this seminar will benefit not only researchers but also developers, contractors, engineers, material suppliers and those interested in the development of peat land,” he pointed out.
The fee is RM200 per person and those interested should contact UCTS on 084-367300 or fax 084-367301, or visit www.ucts.edu.my for online registration.
Also present at the press conference were senior lecturer Captain (retired) Dr Othman Inazafullah, marketing and corporate senior manager Lu Yew King, and seminar secretariat Syazie Nordzaima Ali Mohamad.