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The Early Years

In the early 1980s, several Bachelor of Applied Science graduates from Electronics Science and Technology and Mineral Science and Technology returned to USM, informing that they were hired by several factories in Kuala Lumpur and Penang as engineers but not recognized as engineering graduates. To answer their plight, USM applied to the Public Services Department (JPA) to get the Bachelor of Applied Science Degree recognized as equivalent to engineering degrees. When JPA rejected the application, the then Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Professor Kamal Salleh agreed to the request by Mr. Mohd Muslim Mohd Yusoff, then a lecturer at the School of Applied Science, to form a committee to conduct a feasibility study on offering engineering programs at USM.

The Birth of the School of Engineering Science and Industrial Technology

The committee discovered that the School of Housing, Building and Planning (HBP), USM was already offering several core civil engineering subjects and hiring several lecturers with civil engineering and mechanical engineering background. Meanwhile, the School of Applied Science had lecturers and offering courses in the areas of Chemical Engineering, Minerals Engineering, and Electronics Engineering. The committee concluded in its report to the Vice Chancellor that USM was in fact ready and capable of offering engineering programs. The report was nicknamed the 'Green Book (Buku Hijau)', a popular term used until 2002 to refer to the engineering academic programme book.

The Establishment of the Perak Campus

The Malaysian Ministry of Education conducted a study entitled 'Skop Pengajian Kejuruteraan di Malaysia' which concluded that the number of engineering faculties in the 1980s were inadequate for the nation. It was recommended that at least three new engineering faculties be set up. After USM's application was approved, USM conducted a study in 1984 to evaluate the feasibility of setting up an engineering campus in Perak, specifically in Ipoh. The 4th Senate Meeting (24th October 1984) agreed to set up a Board of Studies to study the offering of engineering programmes at the campus in Ipoh and the present programmes offered by the School of Engineering Science and Industrial Technology in the main campus.

The Civil Engineering Degree Program

The arduous task of preparing the working paper for the formation of the Civil Engineering Degree Program was done by Ir. Nik Fuaad Bin Nik Abllahfrom the School of Housing, Building and Planning. The philosophy of the programme was modelled on the Australian civil engineering undergraduate degree programme. Several visits to Australian Universities, namely Adelaide University, Melbourne University, University of Sydney and University of Perth were made under the Australian International Development Program (IADP) programme. A draft syllabus was developed based on discussions made with the Australian counterparts. The experiments and laboratories were designed based on the Australian Universities laboratory concepts. A good example is the structural laboratory strong floor which was modelled on Melbourne University.

The School of Civil Engineering (PPKA)

In 1986, the Civil Engineering curriculum was coordinated by Ir. Hj. Mohd Hashim Bin Daud, previously the Head of Department, Civil Engineering programme at PUO, who later became the first PPKA Dean in 1989. The launching of PPKA was planned in 1988 but was unfortunately delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. It was formally set up on 1st January 1989 with three lecturers, a Tutor and an Assistant Registrar. The first student intake took place in July 1989, numbering only 11 students. PPKA was later moved to the USM Branch Campus, Seri Iskandar in 1989, where it was allocated with its own building and laboratory facilities. In March 2001, PPKA and the entire USM Perak Branch campus shifted to Seri Ampangan to start a new era in Nibong Tebal.