A Humble Retirement for Rosni Abdullah@Mustafa After 33 Years of Tireless Service in Computer Science

rrosni

PENANG, July 2020 – The third day of June marked the day Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) community showered a gorgeous lady named Rosni Abdullah@Mustafa with much gratitude for her endless efforts serving the university in the field of computer science.

After more than three decades well-spent contributing to the university, the former Dean of School of Computer Sciences USM humbly retired from her position.

It was not a short journey for Professor Dr. Rosni Abdullah@Mustafa, to spend 33 years uplifting computer science in USM. Despite not having a smooth-sailing journey with much hurdles met throughout her service in USM, this true-blue Penangite has put in all her efforts to garden young souls with her knowledge and expertise in computer science.

All thanks to this respected lady, USM made its mark in the nation and world with its successful alumni specialising in computer and information technology in both academics and researches.

As the eldest child from 10 siblings, Rosni was raised well in Bagan Ajam, Butterworth. Started schooling in Kolej Tunku Kurshiah (TKC) in Seremban (1975-1979), Rosni furthered her studies in the degree of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics (1980-1984) in Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA.

With her thirst for knowledge, Rosni continued her Masters in Computer Science in Western Michigan University (1984-1986). Loughborough University in United Kingdom became her last alma mater when she got herself enrolled in a PhD in Computer Science for 5 years (1993-1997).

The USM Media and Public Relations Centre (MPRC) was lucky enough to have a short interview with Rosni so that we could carve out a short read-up here right for you about her story and experience in USM.

The following is the essence of our interview with Professor Dr. Rosni Abdullah@Mustafa.
 

The Untold Journey from the Little Spark of Passion

First and foremost, we would like to extend our utmost gratitude and congratulations to Prof. for your tireless commitments serving USM for 33 years. Could you share with us the starting point of your career after the completion of your Ph.D?

Thank you for your well wishes. I am grateful for USM’s initiative to conduct an interview with me. The significant part of my life that paved my journey to date started with me being inspired by my father who was an educator. My father was a Mathematics teacher and he would do tuition classes after school. That was the time I saw the passion and determination in him for managing the tuition classes. Somehow, this sparked the interest in me to be just like him as an educator but hopefully at the tertiary education level. My father was my role model at that time.

I was actually offered the USM fellowship scheme to pursue my Ph.D towards the end of my Master’s in USA. However, I rejected the opportunity after deciding to get a working experience first in Malaysia. Luck-struck, I immediately applied for the open position of Lecturer of Computer Sciences in USM once I returned to Malaysia.

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I was beyond grateful to hold the position and started serving in the Computer Sciences Department of the School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences since 1987. Four years into teaching and I started realising that my Master’s qualification was insufficient to educate university students.

My stepping stone to my Ph.D programme was when I attended the ‘Supercomputers’ conference in Kuala Lumpur in 1991. I was motivated to pursue ‘Parallel Algorithms’ due to the lack of algorithm development back then as compared to the rapid development of hardware in supercomputers. In December 1992, I started my Ph.D programme in Loughborough University, UK; a 5-year stint before returning to USM in May 1997.

One of the greatest blessings I have in life is my husband who had been very supportive then to quit his job and moved to UK together with our three children. His sacrifices motivated me so much to hurry the completion of my Ph.D so that he will be able to return to Malaysia to pursue his own career ambitions.

When People Say, ‘You Can’t Do It!’, Prove Them Wrong

Could Prof. share with us if you have experienced any discrimination for choosing Computer Science just because you are a female venturing into a new field three decades ago?

Undoubtedly, yes. There was once in an introductory session with a group of seniors when I was laughed at for sharing my interest to try pursuing a degree in Computer Science. They claimed that females can never do computer science because the field was a very tough one back then. I decided to prove them wrong, that females can succeed in Computer Science. However, my scholarship sponsor, Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) did not allow me to change my course from Mathematics to Computer Science. This hurdle made me brave myself to go for a double-degree study, which was Applied Mathematics and Computer Science.

On another occasion, during my interview for the lecturer’s post at USM, I was asked a rather peculiar question, “Am I able to handle the students who are all physically bigger than me?” Well my answer was, "Sir, you should not judge a book by its cover. Even if you put a big fat guy in the class, do you think he can control the students?" The entire panel of interviewers burst into laughter, perhaps thinking that it was a rather amusing answer. Eventually I got the lecturing post, and I am very thankful for that. 

Recognised Awards and Achievements that Made Everyone Go ‘Wow!’

The experiences in your education and career journey are certainly worth sharing. Now, could Prof. please share with us your accomplishments throughout your service in USM as a motivation for the present and future staff to succeed in their respective fields?

Well, I have published more than 100 journals and scientific materials which can be the main references in my field, including several international publications. Throughout my journey to contribute to USM, I am very blessed to be recognised and awarded with various accolades for academics, researches and administration including:

               1. Academic Staff Higher Education Scheme (ASHES), Nov 1993 – April 1997
               2. Excellence Service Award 1994
               3. Excellence Service Award 2003
               4. Excellence Service Award 2010
               5. Honorary Industry Award, Academic Category 2015
               6. Excellence Service Award 2017

The Principles: Inspire Them, Engage Them, Empower Them

What are the principles that Prof. upholds in your duty and to be a good leader?

Always do your best, properly delegate and leverage the strength of each staff and aid them to improve their weaknesses and of course, to work together in a productive and harmonious working environment. ‘Inspire Them, Engage Them, Empower Them.’

The Secret Idol

Who is the greatest icon in your life that made you to be so highly-inspired to succeed in life?

Since young, my role model was my father. However, as I grew, I observed successful leaders around me and they became my inspirations.

The Sweetest Memories Etched Forever

What are the sweetest and unforgettable events that Prof. would like to share with us along with your contribution and service in the School of Computer Sciences and National Advanced IPv6 Centre?

To be honest, there were too many unforgettable events to share but these are a few that will cross my mind when good memories are mentioned:

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Dear Prof., what is the legacy of your academic knowledge and expertise that you think would benefit future generations that will continue to serve in USM?

My main research field is Parallel Computing, mainly on Parallel Algorithms. This field is quite ahead in 1997 when I completed my Ph.D.

In 2000, I started exploring Parallel Algorithms to process biological data and began multidisciplinary researches. At the same time, I ventured into industrial relations and obtained a sponsorship grant from Intel for parallel processing. Also, I collaborated with Intel to organise a multicore-programming training programme for researchers from the higher education institutions.

That was also the time Intel contributed the Intel Multicore Lab to USM. In 2013, Intel offered a collaboration opportunity for Intel Galileo and Intel Edison training programmes to expose the Internet of Things (IOT) to all Computer Science students through the Computer Science curriculum, final-year projects and researches in both Master’s and Ph.D programmes.

Thus, I was exposed to many Intel Makers activities and the participations prompted me to commence the Makers@USM activities in late 2016. These activities were formalised in USM on 1 March 2017. The idea obtained strong support from USM and the proposal was presented to the Ministry of Higher Education. With that, Unimaker emerged in 2018 as the Makers’ activity in Malaysia’s higher education institutions.

The zenith of Unimaker USM was USM topped the first and second prizes in the inaugural Unimaker Competition 2018.

The two main basics by Rosni:

1. Multidisciplinary Research, which should lead to multidisciplinary teaching. When I ventured into exploring the use of parallel algorithms for biological data, some people said I was crazy. Today, I have graduated 24 Ph.D students and 3 Master’s by research, where 15 of the Ph.D and 2 of the Master’s are in the area of Computational Biology.

I was one of the researchers involved in the Newton-Ungku Omar Grant with researchers from UNIMAS to explore Deep Learning in astronomy. The grant was with astronomy experts from Manchester University, UK. I have also led a team of multi-disciplinary staff to secure a LRGS MRUN grant entitled ‘High Performance Big Data Analytics Platform for Optimizing Oil Palm Yield via Breeding by Design’ with collaboration between UTM, UM, UKM, UPM and Felda Global Ventures (FGV). The grant was approved in mid-March 2020.

2. Research impact from collaboration with the industries, and activities from Makers@USM and Unimaker.

The Iron Lady Who Handles her Career and Family Well

Prof., how do you manage your time to be committed in both your career and family?

Coping between family and career is indeed a challenge especially for the females. My principle is family is always first, but not to the extent of neglecting my work responsibilities. I am always grateful to be blessed with a supportive and caring husband who is always there to assist me in managing family matters.

The Inspiration that Ignites Fire in Young Souls

Last but not least, could Prof. share a few words to motivate all USMians to continue serving the university with full commitment and love?

No one is perfect. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Identify them. Work hard through the strengths to contribute to USM and improve the weaknesses. Always be ready to learn and explore new things. Share your knowledge and experience among the staff and work as a family to advance USM to a greater level. With utmost importance, enjoy your work and be sure of your life goals. Thank you.

Credit : USM News Portal https://news.usm.my/index.php/english-news/6648-a-humble-retirement-for-rosni-abdullah-mustafa-after-33-years-of-tireless-service-in-computer-science-2

Bahari is First Orang Asli to be Appointed Faculty Dean

baharinews2

GEORGE TOWN: Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)'s Professor Dr Bahari Belaton created history by becoming the first Orang Asli to be appointed dean of USM School of Computer Sciences (SOCS) effective yesterday.

Bahari, who belongs to the Semai tribe of Tangkai Cermin in Perak, also added another feather to his cap when he was appointed National Advanced IPv6 Centre (NAv6) director.

With these two appointments, Bahari is believed to be the first Orang Asli to be appointed as a dean in Malaysian history and also the first to hold two head of department positions simultaneously in an institution of higher learning in Malaysia.

Known for his expertise in areas of Scientific Data Visualisation, Computer Graphics and Network Security, he has served with USM for more than 24 years and achieved numerous successes throughout his career, especially with regards to academic development and research.

"My aim in life is to serve, provide my expertise and contribute my capabilities to USM, my students, my community and my family," said Bahari, who graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the South Australian Institute of Technology in Australia in 1989.

To fulfil a requirement by the Malaysian Public Service Department (JPA), which specifies that those who intend to serve in the public sector need to have an Honours degree, he then pursued an additional year of study at Flinders University, Australia (1991) to obtain an Honours before completing his Doctoral studies (Ph.D) at Leeds University, United Kingdom (1995).

Bahari, the fifth of seven siblings, lost his father when he was nine. His life became even harder as he had to depend on his mother who struggled to earn a living for the family.

"Around the 1960s, conditions were different than how it is now. Added to the fact that staying in an Orang Asli village that was about 20km from the nearest town, which was Tanjung Tualang, everything was less than rosy.

"In fact, I only came to know in the later years from my late mother that all my other siblings had passed away, leaving only me and my elder sister, without knowing the exact cause of their deaths.

"There was no electricity in our village, and we were fortunate enough to get clean water supply from tin miners, who by chance lived close to the village. It was water from three main pipes that was shared with the whole village.

"Such conditions, however, were not really obstacles for me in seeking knowledge," he said, as he mentioned that his only sister also managed to make a change in her life by being one of the pioneer nurses at a special hospital for Orang Asli in Gombak, Selangor, and had since retired.

Bahari was raised by his mother single-handedly, and being illiterate, education to her was not a priority.

What mattered most then was the means to earn a living and to continue with life. She did all kinds of work, from searching for forest produce to working for farmers in minding their crops, to make ends meet.

However, he was proud of his mother who was very dear to him, because despite her shortcomings, she had always supported him in his pursuit of knowledge and always tried her best to provide for his needs, including school uniform, shoes, pocket money and so forth.

During his secondary school days, his observations of success stories from other communities would fuel his desire to succeed like them one day.

Bahari also acknowledged that the Department of Orang Asli Affairs (JHEOA) had played an important role throughout his life journey and the lives of other Orang Asli children in providing them with various aids and support.

"External factors were also helpful in giving the right motivation to individuals from minority groups as with me, where support at home was very minimal in assisting and promoting formal education.

"Recognition and support provided by teachers and the school community played a crucial role. In my case for example, the teachers gave me the chance to be the classroom monitor and prefect, among others.

"Honestly, I would say that though it might seem to many as being small or of minor relevance, for the minority groups or those in the bottom billion, such a support would mean a lot; these are the game changers for my life," he said as he shared some tips on his success until now.

Not forgetting his roots, Bahari also shared some insights and advice to the minority groups such as himself, with the hope of encouraging and inspiring them to also attain success.

He said what was important was that those out there needed to persevere what they hope to achieve, as the challenges faced by this group in whatever area or at whichever level would be twice as hard compared to the general society.

"For the Orang Asli specifically, the challenge to adapt, the dominating sense of togetherness (being different from others) and other aspects are among the 'unwritten' issues which need to be dealt with simultaneously along with other challenges faced by the general society.

"The Orang Asli community also need to live with tolerance and be humble, while embracing the need to befriend as many as possible from the general society," he added.

Credit: New Straits Times

Appointed as SOCS Dean, Bahari Belaton Is Truly an Icon Of Excellence For The 'Orang Asli' Community

baharinews

USM PENANG, 2 June 2020 – Professor Dr. Bahari Belaton is no stranger at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). He is well known for his admirable achievement and all the more coming from the ‘Orang Asli’ (indigenous people) minority community, it is truly a remarkable feat.

He added another feather to his cap recently when he was appointed Dean of the USM School of Computer Sciences (SOCS), effective from 2 June 2020, taking over from Professor Dr. Rosni Abdullah @ Mustafa, and also Director of the National Advanced IPv6 Centre (NAv6).

With the two appointments, it is believed that Bahari is the first Orang Asli to be appointed as a Dean in Malaysian history and also the first to hold two head of departments’ position simultaneously in an institution of higher learning in Malaysia.

Known for his expertise in areas of Scientific Data Visualisation, Computer Graphics and Network Security, he has served with USM for more than 24 years. He has achieved numerous successes throughout his career, especially with regard to academic development and research.

Bahari who belongs to the Semai ethnic subgroup from the 'Orang Asli' village of Tangkai Cermin in Perak, is highly-experienced and has travelled abroad to study, graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the South Australian Institute of Technology in Australia in 1989. In fulfilling a requirement made by the Malaysian Public Service Department (JPA) which specifies that those who intend to serve in the public sector need to have an Honours degree, he then pursued an additional year of study at Flinders University, Australia (1991) to obtain an Honours before completing his Doctoral studies (Ph.D) at Leeds University, U.K. (1995).

Easy as it may sound, the challenges faced and sacrifices made by this second youngest child of seven is no mean feat. 

Bahari lost his father at a young age, when he was nine. His life became even harder as he had to depend on his mother who struggled to earn a living for the family. 

“Around the 1960s, conditions were different than how it is now. Added to the fact that staying in an ‘Orang Asli’ village that was about 20 kilometers away from the nearest town which was Tanjung Tualang, everything was less than rosy. 

“In fact, I only came to know in the later years from my late mother that all my other siblings had passed away, leaving only me and my elder sister, without knowing the exact cause(s) of their deaths.

“There was no electricity in our village, and we were fortunate enough to obtain clean water supply from tin miners, who were by chance lived close by to the village. It was water from three main pipes that was shared with the whole village. 

“Such conditions, however, were not really obstacles for me in seeking knowledge,” he said, as he mentioned that his only sister that has survived until now has also managed to make a change in her life by being one of the pioneer nurses at a special hospital for 'Orang Asli' in Gombak, Selangor and has since retired.

What's interesting about Bahari was that, ever since he was little, he has been blessed with a highly inquisitive mind. This was among the starting point of his success, as he was observant of his surroundings and his mind would then start to formulate questions.

He added that, while growing up especially during his school days, his settlement by coincidence, was located next to an area housing engineers (including expatriates) who worked with a mining company, the Malaysian Mining Corporation (MMC). 

“Daily, I would take the opportunity to help and tag along with the fish and vegetable seller, a Chinese man, who also drove the school bus fetching me and my friends to school.

“The reason I followed him was none other than to satisfy my curiosity to see the bungalow houses of the engineers, aside from helping him to sell fish and vegetables,” he said. 

He also stressed that, much of his success was also due to the envious feelings of the success of others he had seen. 

Bahari was raised by his mother single-handedly, and being illiterate, education to her was not a priority. What mattered most then was the means to earn a living and to continue with life. She did all kinds of work, from searching for forest produce to working for farmers in minding their crops, to make ends meet.

However, he was proud of his mother who was very dear to him, because despite her shortcomings, she had always supported him in his pursuit of knowledge and always tried her best to provide for his needs including school uniform, shoes, pocket money and so forth.

Thus, during his secondary school days, his observations of success stories from other communities would fuel his desire to succeed like them one day. 

Bahari also admitted that, the Department of Orang Asli Affairs (JHEOA) played an important role too throughout his life journey and the lives of other 'Orang Asli' children in providing them with various aids and support.

With mathematics being his favourite subject in school, ever since then he had been deeply interested in learning new things and he would be thrilled when learning and completing an exercise. He added that, he would be able to finish and complete all the exercises and homework given by his teachers on his own.

“External factors were also helpful in giving the right motivation to individuals from minority groups as with me, where support at home was very minimal in assisting and promoting formal education. 

“Recognition and support provided by teachers and the school community played a crucial role. In my case for example, the teachers entrusted me and gave me the chance to be the classroom monitor and prefect, among others. 

“Honestly,  I would say that though it might seem to many as being small or of minor relevance, but for the minority groups or those in the bottom billion, such a support would mean a lot; these are the game changers for my life!,” he said as he shared some tips on his success up till now.

Not forgetting his roots, Bahari also shared some insights and advices to the minority groups such as him, with the hope of encouraging and inspiring them to also attain success. 

He said, what's important is that, those out there need to persevere in what they do or hope to achieve, as the challenges faced by this group in whatever area or at whichever level would be twice as hard compared to the general society. 

For the 'Orang Asli' specifically, the challenge to adapt, the dominating sense of togetherness (being different from others) and other aspects are among the 'unwritten' issues which need to be dealt with "simultaneously" along with other challenges faced by the general society.

“The 'Orang Asli' community also need to live with tolerance and to be humble, while embracing the need to befriend as many as possible those from the general society.  

Other additional advices would be those commonly shared in order to achieve success, such as to work hard, to be diligent in doing work and to give nothing but the best,” he said further.

He began his career at USM in November 1995, and has referred to the former Dean of the School, Professor Dr. Zaharin Yussof as his 'mentor' and a highly-respected icon. 

He also considered Zaharin as a unique individual, "always sharp" in his thinking and actions and more importantly, cares for those 'under' him well. 

“I wish I could emulate these excellent leadership qualities,” that was his hope in aspiring to be a highly respected leader. 

He further said that, if I were to assess and reflect upon myself now, I would say that what I had 'envied' of during my schooldays I have now achieved, and that is to become an individual who has excelled in his own field. 

“My aim in life is to serve, provide my expertise and contribute my capabilities to USM, my students, my community and my family,” he said.  

In quoting the words of the current USM Vice-Chancellor, Bahari is truly grateful for being able to 'escape' from the restrictions of the B40 group and would now provide his best to assist those in the B40 group to leave or escape from the same lifecycle.

Translation: Mazlan Hanafi Basharudin/Photo: Dr. Mohd Asyiek Mat Desa (School of the Arts)/Ebrahim Abdul Manan

Credit: USM News Portal

CSICE 2019 Aiming to Mould Future-Ready Industry Talents

admi

15 November 2019 - The recently concluded Computer Sciences Industry and Community Engagement Week (CSICE) 2019 organised by the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) School of Computer Sciences (SCS), comprised of four sub-events, namely:

1. The Computer Science Internship and Recruitment Fair (CSIRF) - an internship and career fair targeting SCS 3rd and 4th-year students respectively. It was also opened to the public and was attended by students from SEGI College, INTI College and UiTM Merbok. A total of 350 students and 14 companies were involved in this sub-event.

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Terima Ijazah, Konvokesyen Usm Ke-57

28 September 2019 - Tahniah dan Syabas buat saudari Fatini yang berjaya menamatkan pengajian dan menerima ijazah beliau pada Upacara Konvokesyen ke-57 USM. Tahniah juga kepada ibu dan bapa saudari Fatini.

fatini

International University Carnival On E-Learning (IUCEL 2019)

23 August 2019 - Congratulations to Dr Nur Intan Raihana Ruhaiyem for winning Silver at the International University Carnival on E-Learning (IUCEL 2019) @ UNIMAS, 21-22 August 2019, under the category of Invention, Innovation & Design on e-Learning (IIDEL).

iucel