As a senior lecturer and deputy manager at Nanyang Polytechnic’s (NYP) School of Engineering, Dr Mohamad Pauzi Bin Hussen, 52, serves as an example to his students of how learning is an ongoing pursuit: “It has been my aspiration since I was young to always look for opportunities to upgrade myself academically and learn new things. I am a strong supporter of life-long learning.”
From his educational start at the early equivalent of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), he has continued studying and earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering in 2005. In 1979, Dr Pauzi embarked on an apprenticeship scheme run by the Economic Development Board (EDB) at the Japan-Singapore Training Centre (JSTC). He graduated in 1982 with his National Trade Certificate Grade 2 (NTC-2). Today, under the Institute of Technical Education, the NTC-2 has been renamed the NITEC (National ITE Certificate).
Upon graduation, Dr Pauzi accepted a staff position at the JSTC, which in 1993 was folded into the School of Engineering at NYP. Always eager to learn, in 1990 he completed a Diploma in Production Engineering — Industrial Automation at the German-Singapore Institute. His studies were sponsored by the EDB.
Dr Pauzi’s educational journey was only just beginning. Three years later, he was given a scholarship by NYP to complete a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics) at King’s College University of London in 1995. He graduated with first class honours, and was awarded the King’s College Centenary Award for Outstanding Project Work. He then received another NYP scholarship for his Master of Science (Mathematics) at the same institution in 1998, and a scholarship from the university itself for his doctorate, which he received in 2005.
He said: “I chose to apply for my diploma studies because at the time, the EDB institutions were about to be upgraded to the next level, and I felt I should upgrade myself to stay relevant. Later on, I benefited from NYP’s culture of staff development and career growth. They have always been there to support post-diploma education for their staff.
“When I was studying for my Master’s, my project supervisor encouraged me to pursue a PhD. Once my application was successful, I emailed human resources and they gave me their approval.”
One of his first fond memories of working at the newly-created School of Engineering was helping in the International Program — JSPP (Japan-Singapore Partnership Program) in Mechatronics. His tasks involved meeting participants from Japan at Changi Airport and ensuring they reached their hotel safely, as NYP did not have staff apartments then. “We would also bring the participants to local places of interest, as part of the programme,” he recalled. “It showed the kind of team spirit NYP staff possessed.”
Today at NYP, Dr Pauzi’s duties are more academic in nature. He is responsible for teaching as well as conducting applied research in microsystems and nanotechnology. He is also a course coordinator for the Diploma in Nanotechnology and Materials Science programme and serves as an adjunct lecturer at Newcastle University International Singapore (NUIS), which is a collaboration between Newcastle University and the Singapore Institute of Technology.
Nanotechnology and microsystems are relatively new fields for him. He’s spent the last eight years focusing on these areas after building his career in industrial robotics and advanced industrial automation. To train in the new field, he was attached to the Institute of Materials and Research Engineering (IMRE) for three months in 1997.
He said: “Coming from an engineering background, initially I had to overcome some challenges in learning and retraining in emerging technologies like nanotechnology, where materials science and other sciences have become very important. Now I work with a group of researchers and lead several projects. One of these projects is related to biodegradable materials. Currently we’re using a lot of plastics which are not degradable. While you can get some biodegradable products in the market, our research is focused on enhancing the properties of biodegradable materials at a lower cost.”
His willingness to learn new things helps keep him young in spirit. He said: “One challenge I am facing is being able to engage and work well with students. As our age gap widens, I will need to have adequate knowledge and skills to overcome it. But I’ve always liked teaching and working with students on projects, using innovation and creativity to solve problems.”
In 2012, Dr Pauzi received a 20-year long-service award from NYP, where he has spent the majority of his career. He expects to work for NYP until retirement, and considers the institution his “second family”.
But it is the support of his family that has motivated him towards his achievements, especially his wife, a homemaker whom he married when he was starting his diploma studies: “She has been very understanding — she gave me her full support and encouragement when I had to leave her and our two children back in Singapore in 1993 to pursue my full-time, two-year degree programme in London.”
Their next two children were born in London, while he was enrolled in his Masters and PhD programmes. Today, his eldest son is 25, the second son is 21, and the two younger girls are 16 and 14. Besides spending time with his family, Dr Pauzi enjoys watching football, listing the English Premier League, S.League and Malaysia Cup as his favourites. In his youth he was a ball picker at the old National Stadium, and fondly reminisces about watching Quah Kim Song and his teammates play.
But no hobbies or sports will come close to his passion for learning, which has never faltered throughout his long career in the educational and research sector. He believes that NYP has made him who he is today by allowing him to grow and develop professionally.
Said Dr Pauzi: “I’m grateful to NYP for these wonderful opportunities. It’s been a life-long learning adventure, a very enriching experience.”