Clay Graduation System (CGS) maximizes the capability of each student with minimal resources and expertise

Most PhD students, in particular those in the developing nations, have the following doubts before or while pursuing their degree:
1.How long should I expect to complete my PhD? It is worrying that many took much longer than the allocated time frame to complete their study.

2.Would I learn something useful in my PhD? What would be the quality of my dissertation? Is my research relevant ? how do I cope with the rapid technology advancement?

Throughout my postgraduate studies, I experienced two totally different research experiences: limited resources while doing an MEngSc degree in University of Malaya (2004-2005), and abundant resources while working on my PhD in University of New South Wales (2006-2009). In the end of 2009, I was back to University of Malaya, and these research experiences I have had motivated me to strive to create a good research environment for the postgraduate students in Malaysia.

In order to address this, I have created the “Clay Graduation System (CGS)" that maximizes the capability of every individual student with minimum resources and expertise. This is particularly useful for developing countries with limited resources and expertise, as compared to other developed countries. Following steps show how CGS works:

1. Select suitable mold:
Break down each research project into sub-modules.

2. Fill selected mold:
Customize each module to fit the expertise of each student.

3. Collect output:
Student joins conference presentation to assess the research quality.

4. Polish & paint output:
Student is sent to world-class institutes to solve more critical research problems.

The main concept of CGS is to break down each research project into sub-modules, and customize each module to fit the expertise of each individual postgraduate student. A series of structured forms has been created to lead our students in solving their research problem efficiently in different phases. All research outcomes and steps are documented to enable the continuation of knowledge. In the early phase, researchers are required to participate in a conference presentation to assess the research quality. At the final stage, researcher will be sent to world-class institutes to solve more critical research problems.

In 2011, I setup the Asian Cardiac Engineering laboratory ( to test and fine tune CGS. Over the years, the above effort has proven to produce fruitful outcomes. From someone without postgraduate students, funding and a laboratory space, in 3 years time, Asian Cardiac Engineering Laboratory has rapidly developed into a team of 8 full time postgraduate students with excellent academic results and research ability. Four MEngSc students have graduated within the minimum duration of 1 year, with publications in top tier journals. I managed to coordinate each research project effectively, fully utilizing expertise from diversified areas to help the students in different aspects.

Apart from engineers and computer scientists, our group also consists of cardiologists, surgeons and radiologists to ensure applicability of our research outputs to the real world. Internationally, short term attachments and Joint PhD programs have allowed us to maintain and expand our network to various prestigious institutions around the world, including University of New South Wales, University of Queensland, Macquerie University, Curtin University, Texas Heart Institute, Erciyes University, King’s College London, and University of Western Australia, to ensure that we always stay on the cutting edge of the technology.

With limited research funding, I was able to provide abundant opportunities for student attachments in world class institutes, trainings and joint supervisions. By continuing research in implantable rotary blood pumps, and expanding our research area into different fields, including patient-specific modelling, image processing, telehealth monitoring focusing on heart disease patients, we have published a total of 25 refereed, top-tiered journals and 11 conference proceedings.

In the coming years, I would strive harder to improve this model for successful research supervision and management. Hopefully, I could share this successful model with partners from other developing nations, to ensure that despite all limitations, we could produce confident and quality graduates who could contribute to the advancement of science and technology and remain relevant in the competitive world.

Lim Einly, PhD
Asian Cardiac Engineering laboratory


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