Mapúa: Science, research in the focus

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Mapua
Dr Reynaldo B. Vea, President and CEO of Mapúa Institute of Technology

Mapúa Institute of Technology, or simply Mapúa is a research-oriented Filipino tertiary institute located in Intramuros, Manila and in Makati. Investvine asked Dr Reynaldo B. Vea, President and CEO of the institution, about the role it plays within the Filipino university ecosystem.

How would you place Mapúa on a list of tertiary institutions in Asia?

In 2000, the Yuchengo Group of Companies acquired this school. Since that time, we have concentrated our efforts in getting our undergraduate programmes internationally accredited, and today we have eight engineering programmes and two computing programmes accredited by ABET, the sole accrediting organisation for engineering programmes in the US. Such accreditations were obtained back in 2008.

Now we have turned our attention towards our graduate programmes. We have a whole range of master’s degrees in engineering and five PhD programmes. Mapúa today has published enough research papers to be eligible for university status. But besides research, there are other components that must propel us forward; for this reason, we have signed an agreement with Case Western Reserve University in Ohio to set up an innovation center.

A number of students at Mapúa have become innovators. One group of students developed a cell phone for the blind – and our IP office was established by that time to try to get their gadget protected. We are part of a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) initiative to train schools to understand and navigate the patent landscape. Another group of students devised a means to make blood bank databases accessible via mobile phones, determining where supply is and where need may be.

Do you track students when they graduate from Mapúa?

Even with social media this is a very difficult task as the graduates, once out of school, get very focused on their jobs. We have about 2,000 graduates every year. A lot of them end up in Singapore or the Middle East, and some find their way to Japan, Korea, China and the US. Some also end up in multinational corporations based in the Philippines. The hope here is for our graduates to be globally competitive – to be able to qualify to work anywhere in the world. This global reach makes tracking even more difficult, but we have never stopped trying.

How diverse are the backgrounds of your faculty?

Well, we have a whole range of undergraduate and graduate programmes in various fields: engineering, IT, science, business, multimedia arts and sciences and psychology. Naturally, we have a faculty with very diverse backgrounds. This makes academic life very vibrant as we try multidisciplinary approaches to discussions of various topics.

Is there any specific direction you want to take with the innovation lab?

We are currently refining our research agenda. To make this agenda, some say you should follow the money, finding where the grants are. Others say it should be a needs-based research agenda. Still others say it should address the toughest technological challenges of the day and everything else will follow. But for now, based on our currently available resources, we will do basically what our faculty members are most capable of and what would be affordable So we are going into membrane research and in LIDAR research (Light Detection and Ranging), a remote sensing technology using laser, because we have a number of specialists in that field. We are doing research in IT because it is relatively inexpensive.

FullSizeRender (1)
Dr Reynaldo B. Vea with Investvine’s Imran Saddique (right)

What impact will the ASEAN Economic Community formation have on your partnerships?

We have just had conversations about professional qualification levels with our partner in Indonesia. Our common point of reference is the so-called ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF). This framework facilitates common understanding of entry-level qualifications into the ASEAN workforce and also serves as a guide for the formulation of academic outcomes of the schools. Ultimately it clarifies discussions about comparability of curricula and student/faculty exchange programmes among partners. With the expected increase in the mobility of the workforce across ASEAN countries, such mutual understanding and recognition of qualifications becomes very important.

Are you pursuing any PPPs now?

There is this big project with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that we are participating in. DOST employed LIDAR to map the entire country. They are parceling off the data to various schools in order to generate resource and hazard maps.. We have been assigned the data from Southern Luzon. We are also involved in another PPP research project with the University of the Philippines, with DOST funding as well, to map the coral reefs of the Philippines. Our faculty member developed a submersible robot to help do the mapping.

What are the most popular undergraduate programmes and how are they evolving?

It used to be that our electronics and communications programme was the most subscribed to because of the country’s strong semiconductor and telecommunications industries. It is still going very strong, but, lately, our civil engineering programme has taken off – I believe it’s because our high school students on a daily basis see the construction cranes that have become a very visible sign of the current Philippine economic boom.

The fastest growing programme, on the other hand, is multimedia arts and sciences. Lots of young people want to get into this now – you have gamers, animators, and digital filmmakers. More than a thousand students are currently enrolled in it. I believe the advantage that Filipino students provide here is creativity. We bring that kind of talent to the globe.

Education’s purpose used to be to set students on a certain career path. Now we are in what is called the white water-rafting phase, where students have to quickly adapt to changes upriver. How are you making your students nimble to change and supporting the startup ecosystem?

We would do that by emphasising on the fundamentals. It used to be that technology was moving so fast that the normal reaction was to specialise so that one can focus on and be able to master a narrow area. But as the development of technology became even faster, very specialised knowledge came under the danger of getting obsolete very quickly. The reaction to this development has been to go back to fundamentals so that one can shift, adapt and keep pace with greater ease. Therefore, a strong grounding in fundamentals is very essential.


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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Dr Reynaldo B. Vea, President and CEO of Mapúa Institute of Technology

Mapúa Institute of Technology, or simply Mapúa is a research-oriented Filipino tertiary institute located in Intramuros, Manila and in Makati. Investvine asked Dr Reynaldo B. Vea, President and CEO of the institution, about the role it plays within the Filipino university ecosystem.

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Mapua
Dr Reynaldo B. Vea, President and CEO of Mapúa Institute of Technology

Mapúa Institute of Technology, or simply Mapúa is a research-oriented Filipino tertiary institute located in Intramuros, Manila and in Makati. Investvine asked Dr Reynaldo B. Vea, President and CEO of the institution, about the role it plays within the Filipino university ecosystem.

How would you place Mapúa on a list of tertiary institutions in Asia?

In 2000, the Yuchengo Group of Companies acquired this school. Since that time, we have concentrated our efforts in getting our undergraduate programmes internationally accredited, and today we have eight engineering programmes and two computing programmes accredited by ABET, the sole accrediting organisation for engineering programmes in the US. Such accreditations were obtained back in 2008.

Now we have turned our attention towards our graduate programmes. We have a whole range of master’s degrees in engineering and five PhD programmes. Mapúa today has published enough research papers to be eligible for university status. But besides research, there are other components that must propel us forward; for this reason, we have signed an agreement with Case Western Reserve University in Ohio to set up an innovation center.

A number of students at Mapúa have become innovators. One group of students developed a cell phone for the blind – and our IP office was established by that time to try to get their gadget protected. We are part of a Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) initiative to train schools to understand and navigate the patent landscape. Another group of students devised a means to make blood bank databases accessible via mobile phones, determining where supply is and where need may be.

Do you track students when they graduate from Mapúa?

Even with social media this is a very difficult task as the graduates, once out of school, get very focused on their jobs. We have about 2,000 graduates every year. A lot of them end up in Singapore or the Middle East, and some find their way to Japan, Korea, China and the US. Some also end up in multinational corporations based in the Philippines. The hope here is for our graduates to be globally competitive – to be able to qualify to work anywhere in the world. This global reach makes tracking even more difficult, but we have never stopped trying.

How diverse are the backgrounds of your faculty?

Well, we have a whole range of undergraduate and graduate programmes in various fields: engineering, IT, science, business, multimedia arts and sciences and psychology. Naturally, we have a faculty with very diverse backgrounds. This makes academic life very vibrant as we try multidisciplinary approaches to discussions of various topics.

Is there any specific direction you want to take with the innovation lab?

We are currently refining our research agenda. To make this agenda, some say you should follow the money, finding where the grants are. Others say it should be a needs-based research agenda. Still others say it should address the toughest technological challenges of the day and everything else will follow. But for now, based on our currently available resources, we will do basically what our faculty members are most capable of and what would be affordable So we are going into membrane research and in LIDAR research (Light Detection and Ranging), a remote sensing technology using laser, because we have a number of specialists in that field. We are doing research in IT because it is relatively inexpensive.

FullSizeRender (1)
Dr Reynaldo B. Vea with Investvine’s Imran Saddique (right)

What impact will the ASEAN Economic Community formation have on your partnerships?

We have just had conversations about professional qualification levels with our partner in Indonesia. Our common point of reference is the so-called ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF). This framework facilitates common understanding of entry-level qualifications into the ASEAN workforce and also serves as a guide for the formulation of academic outcomes of the schools. Ultimately it clarifies discussions about comparability of curricula and student/faculty exchange programmes among partners. With the expected increase in the mobility of the workforce across ASEAN countries, such mutual understanding and recognition of qualifications becomes very important.

Are you pursuing any PPPs now?

There is this big project with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that we are participating in. DOST employed LIDAR to map the entire country. They are parceling off the data to various schools in order to generate resource and hazard maps.. We have been assigned the data from Southern Luzon. We are also involved in another PPP research project with the University of the Philippines, with DOST funding as well, to map the coral reefs of the Philippines. Our faculty member developed a submersible robot to help do the mapping.

What are the most popular undergraduate programmes and how are they evolving?

It used to be that our electronics and communications programme was the most subscribed to because of the country’s strong semiconductor and telecommunications industries. It is still going very strong, but, lately, our civil engineering programme has taken off – I believe it’s because our high school students on a daily basis see the construction cranes that have become a very visible sign of the current Philippine economic boom.

The fastest growing programme, on the other hand, is multimedia arts and sciences. Lots of young people want to get into this now – you have gamers, animators, and digital filmmakers. More than a thousand students are currently enrolled in it. I believe the advantage that Filipino students provide here is creativity. We bring that kind of talent to the globe.

Education’s purpose used to be to set students on a certain career path. Now we are in what is called the white water-rafting phase, where students have to quickly adapt to changes upriver. How are you making your students nimble to change and supporting the startup ecosystem?

We would do that by emphasising on the fundamentals. It used to be that technology was moving so fast that the normal reaction was to specialise so that one can focus on and be able to master a narrow area. But as the development of technology became even faster, very specialised knowledge came under the danger of getting obsolete very quickly. The reaction to this development has been to go back to fundamentals so that one can shift, adapt and keep pace with greater ease. Therefore, a strong grounding in fundamentals is very essential.


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