Taking steps to future-proof its graduates against the backdrop of a challenging economic landscape, Taylor’s University recently introduced its unique ecosystem termed Taylor’sphere that nurtures students in the three intelligences of intellect, practical wisdom and craft.
Along with driving employability for graduates, the ecosystem also inculcates an entrepreneurial mindset that helps graduates to convert their passion projects and ideas into viable business models that could positively impact the community.
“It is evident that academic knowledge alone is not sufficient for a graduate to succeed in today’s world. Graduates need to have the life skills, the street smarts, the agility and creativity to be able to tackle complex problems that will need more than one solution.
“Our ecosystem allows students to develop the right life skills, and collaborate across disciplines to solve problems and create impact in their community, mimicking the way the industry operates. Providing students with the right environment, networks and resources at the university level is crucial to enable them to thrive in their future careers,” said Professor Dr Pradeep Nair, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer of Taylor’s University.
Speaking at the virtual launch, Prof Pradeep said that within the Intellect pillar, he believes interdisciplinary education is the way of the future. On top of allowing its students to mix and match their degree modules to gain a greater breadth of knowledge, the university has been revamping its Taylor’s Curriculum Framework to incorporate various elements such as work-based learning, hybrid degrees and compulsory interdisciplinary projects.
He said these are complemented by the life skills modules that every Taylor’s student undertakes, taught by specialised life skills moderators. The university also systematically assesses students’ soft skills in every module.
“I believe we’re the first university in Asia that assesses its students across all their modules on their communication, teamwork, critical thinking and leadership skills, among others – and our students graduate with a second transcript detailing the Taylor’s Graduate Capabilities they have achieved, alongside their academic certificate,” said Prof Pradeep. “They will also gain a SHINE Award to recognise their co-curricular involvement.”
Mike Choong Wai Keng, co-director of the Taylor’s Me.reka Makerspace (TMM), added that students get to experience the Craft side of things by working together across faculties in their first year and final year projects, proposing and prototyping solutions to address a gap in the market or in society.
“TMM mentors and advises student groups in their projects, and we provide them the space and resources to build their prototypes. Those with viable business ideas also approach our university startup incubator BizPod who will guide students regarding funding opportunities and assist them in scaling up their business. BizPod also works closely with the Research Enterprise arm when it comes to commercialisation and patenting.
“The beauty of this ecosystem is that students get to create, experiment, fail and start again in a safe environment, and the university supports them in their journey. In fact, the university has allowed its students to use any studio or lab in campus for their projects irrespective of their degree programme, effectively making the whole campus a giant Makerspace,” said Choong.
As an example of student projects that have leveraged the ecosystem to create societal impact, the DuckiePi project was founded by Taylor’s students and TMM when they saw the need to make online learning accessible to children from B40 communities during the pandemic. The cost-efficient DuckiePi devices are powered by the Raspberry Pi and have applications such as Zoom, Google Suites and camera functions to enable B40 children to access online classes and resources. To raise funds and drive public participation, the DuckiePi team have launched a donation campaign earlier this year. On top of that, DuckiePi is also currently partnering InstaCash on a trade-in campaign, where RM10 would be donated towards the DuckiePi fund upon app users trading in used devices with the promo code DUCKIE30.
Taylor’s University has also seen several student projects emerge as impactful businesses under BizPod’s mentorship. These include; parking app Arrivo that utilises artificial intelligence to provide a hassle-free parking experience to users; the Cultiv8 platform that aims to sell innovative, healthy and sustainable food products; and Unravel Apparel that revives deadstock fabric into trendy outfits in an effort to reduce fast fashion waste.