IoT has hit the Malaysian scene in a big way 3 or 4 years ago (since 2014). All of a sudden there’s a huge surge of seminars, conferences, and exhibitions related to Smart Cities and IoT topics. Bear in mind that the word “Internet of Things (IoT)” has been coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999! The public and the industry are trying to grasp the concept, benefits and the impact of IoT. However, the early days’ topics are very general and people are getting restless and want to know more how it will impact their individual business or industry vertical.
Last 2 years, we received a lot of inquiries regarding how to start their IoT journey, how to start developing their business case, developing IoT solutions and selling IoT products. That’s when we realized that we have not been nurturing the “IoT talents“. Many of the local Universities are planning to revise their syllabus contents and some even wish to introduce “IoT” courses or programmes (Diploma, Degree or Masters).
Personally, I am fortunate enough to be either Industrial Advisory Panel, Board of Studies and also Adjunct Professor at several Universities in Malaysia. Many Universities have started to revise and refresh their syllabus content to accommodate the upcoming “Fourth Industrial Revolution” and “IoT“.
My recommendation for any University who wishes to join the band-wagon and nurture the next generation talents for Jobs of the Future should take a look at the following framework:
- Introduce the Concept of IoT or 4th Industrial Revolution in the first year first semester. Give the students the big picture and the necessary technology components in the whole IoT value chain and infrastructure. Show the students all the subjects related to their Course throughout the following years and why these subjects are important in their studies. Many take for granted and did not realize the importance of their subjects until they reach the final year when trying to develop their Final Year Projects.
- Introduce the Concept of 7-Layers of OSI. This will make the students understand the importance of PHY layer (fixed or wireless), MAC layer (Protocols such as Zigbee, WiFi, etc), Network Layer (IP), Transport (TCP), Session layer, Presentation Layer and finally the Application Layer. Depending on whether Faculty of Electrical/Electronic Engineering or Computer Science, the weightage on the depth will be different between them. Mainly Engineering students will have more focus on Layer 1-4 whereas Computer Science will focus on Layer 5-7. But when learning topics on IoT, all of the students must be aware of all the layers.
- IoT Value Chain. In reality, no single company has the strength and talent to deliver end-to-end IoT solution on its own. Thus, the need for them to partner with various parties who specifically focused on different areas such as Chipset, Device, Networking, Middleware, Cloud, Applications, Big Data Analytics, System Integration and Solution Selling. Thus, Universities need to cover all aspects of contents to cover this value-chain.
- Hands-on IoT. However, many are still missing the key component i.e. Hands-On experience with Practical experiments using an IOT middleware. Just by learning how to use Raspberry-Pi and Arduino (stand-alone) is still insufficient. Sensor data need to be sent to an IoT middleware that sits in the Cloud. Application developers can use the necessary API to connect the sensors and extract the data that has been stored for deriving further insights or create specific IoT solution on their Smartphones or Desktops. Thus, lab sessions using an IoT middleware must be introduced in their curriculum to make it more complete.
But how do the Universities start to introduce this hands-on training? Do they need to buy expensive IoT middleware?
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