Speech by The Right Honourable Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng in Launching of Penang Science Cafe @ Heritage, Wisma Yeap Chor Ee, Penang on 5th Dec 2015.
Today marks another milestone for Penang’s STEM education initiative. Today, the Penang Science Cluster is launching our biggest and most sophisticated STEM education and innovation center right here at the Wisma Yeap Chor Ee - officially known as the Penang Science Café @Heritage.
First, let me talk a bit about the Penang Science Cluster:
When the present State Government first took office in 2009, we received a lot of feedback from industry captains that the main constraint for Penang’s industrial growth lies in the lack of human talent – the shortage of high quality science and technical based human resources. Indeed, there was great concern that the interest of school students to take up studies in the STEM subjects was declining.
This was especially so for Penang, whose economic success depends primarily on the size and quality of the State’s talent pool. Further during my visit to National Instruments I had an interesting conversation on what industry can achive by promoting science education. Therein lies the seeds of collaboration between the private sector, schools and government under a Public-private Partnership(PPP) framework to drive science education forward. As a result, the Penang State Government initiated the formation of the Penang Science Cluster in 2010 with the mission to inspire the spirit of innovation in Science and Engineering into the community, especially among the young. Also at that time, I came to the conclusion that while this program is strongly supported by the State Government, it had to be led by industry. I believe that that the best way to make a real difference is by letting the experts lead. Looking at what has been achieved since then, I can say that we have made the right decision.
All these were 6 years ago. Today, the Penang Science Cluster is impacting approximately 15000 young people each year through the following programs:
Embedded tech-mentor programs to 120 schools that are spread equally between the island and mainland for robotics, embedded systems and coding. That’s over 1000 students per year with over 180 team projects to compete in our annual Young Innovator competition.
Conducted external outreach programs that have reached close to 10,000 young people through science carnivals, local fairs, school and community visits.
Reached close to 3000 young people through the Penang Science Café programs this year.
Conducted 4 STEM classes per week at the Penang Youth Development Center for poorer children. This program impacted 250 children each attending classes for 6 months.
Impacting more than 500 entrepreneurs and innovators via technology, innovation and entrepreneurial training and sharing events at our science cafe
Raised funds to offer “on the job vocational training” scholarships for 150 academically weaker students to provide them with necessary vocational skills to grow their careers.
As all of us already know, two weeks ago we had our 4th Penang International Science fair and achieved another record for hosting approximately 60,000 visitors. Once again, the fair highlighted the tremendous unmet need for STEM education. As we have said before, this need cannot be addressed by an annual science fair as a stand-alone initiative.
What is needed are STEM education centers – called Science Café’s, spread out around the State to serve STEM knowledge to the community all-year round, especially for young kids. We have to catch them young to rekindle their interest in science and technology. We launched our first small café in 2013 at Krystal Point and today we launch our headquarters right in the middle of George Town’s heritage enclave.
The Penang state government has invested heavily in this heritage building spending more than RM23 million for refurbishment and a 30-year lease. Further more than RM2 million in cash from industry, the State Government and friends of Penang, to fully outfit the center with world class teaching and maker-space infrastructures, equipment and tools. According to industry colleagues, this space may indeed be one of the most unique and impactful learning space in Malaysia – even in the world.
Over the last year, the Penang State Government has invested significantly in the restoration of this beautiful heritage building, and provided the ground floor to the Penang Science Cluster to build this heritage science café to serve the Penang community.
Today, the official launch this iconic Penang Science Café @Heritage is the culmination of a long 2-year journey of intense collaboration between the Penang State Government, Industry and the Community,
I will leave Dato’ Gooi Soon Chai, from Keysight Technologies, who is heading the pillar for the Science Café initiative to brief you on the details of this center.
Finally, I would like to state my deepest appreciation to Keysight Technologies who is the pillar lead for the Science Café initiative for their contributions to help make this vision a reality. In addition, I would also like to thank all the gold sponsors and all the friends of the Penang Science Cluster for their cash and equipment donations.