Proton and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore “strategic initiatives” in engineering and technology. The MoU was signed by Proton MD Dato’ Syed Zainal Abidin and UTM Vice Chancellor Professor Dato’ Ir Dr. Zaini b. Ujang at Proton’s Centre of Excellence. It was witnessed by Proton adviser Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

The first initiative involves the assignment of a professor from UTM to Proton on a full time basis for two years. It’s hoped that this input will strengthen the research capabilities of Proton. The professor will also be directly involved in the development of new Proton models. Proton is allocating RM500,000 to run activities in the first year of the Proton-UTM Professorship Program.

On UTM’s side, the uni has committed to invest RM1 million to enhance its research initiatives further through collaboration with renowned universities like Cambridge, MIT and Meiji University. The target is to boost efforts in Intellectual Property (IP) development in the form of patent, copyright and industrial design. UTM targets to generate ten IPs a year.

“To be at par with other international car makers, Proton cannot merely depend on the achievements it has accomplished after 25 years. Proton must now expedite its initiative to further strengthen its human capital especially in the fields of engineering and technical expertise. This includes the knowledge advancement in new skills such as green technology, development of cars using alternative fuel and skills using local software and hardware. The link with UTM will facilitate efforts towards this end,” Proton Chairman Dato’ Sri Mohd. Nadzmi said.

“The industry-university collaboration provides many benefits to both parties. For Proton, it will inculcate the research culture within the organisation and as for UTM it will strengthen the university as the leading ‘Research University’ in Malaysia,” Dato’ Syed Zainal added.

In the recent Perodua Eco-Challenge 2010 – a fuel efficiency competition between institutions of higher learning – our local uni undergrads showed off lots of ingenuity and skill to shave off fuel consumption from their Vivas. UTM’s entry was a Viva with Myvi wheels/tyres for optimum handling stability.