By Becky Wood, Assistant to the Chancellor for Communications:
Although business in the United States took David Russomanno, dean of the School of Engineering and Techology, back to the United States, the last day for the rest of the IUPUI delegation was truly remarkable. We traveled to the University Technical Malaysia Melaka, known as UTeM, and Chancellor Nasser Paydar was surprised and pleased to be greeted with his likeness at the campus gateway.
Following that first surprise, the delegation enjoyed a traditional greeting called silat and gamelan — martial arts and musical performances, respectively — presented by UTeM students with the support of staff.
Tan Sri Tajuddin, pro vice chancellor of Universiti Tenaga Nasional, and professor Datuk Dr. Shahrin Bin Sahib, vice chancellor of UTeM, greeted the delegation and shared regional history as well as an overview of the UTeM campus. The visit to UTeM was particularly special because Professor Datuk Dr. Shahrin graduated with honors from IUPUI in 1987 through the UTM/MUCIA program and served as student speaker during commencement exercises. A graduate of distinction, Datuk Dr. Shahrin is the youngest person ever to serve as vice chancellor of a polytechnic university in Malaysia.
Prompted by a conversation at lunch, upon their return to Kuala Lumpur, the group stopped at a tropical fruit stand for a culinary adventure. According to our UTeM hosts, a visit to Malaysia isn’t complete without sampling durian, the king of fruits. This pungent tropical fruit grows abundantly in Malaysia. The smell of durian distinguishes it from all other fruits. To some noses, it’s rotting garbage, to others blue cheese. The texture is soft custard.
Our advisors suggested we wear gloves before we touched it. Hmmm … we needed to wear gloves to pick up something we were putting in our mouths? That gave some delegation members pause.
After a debriefing session in Kuala Lumpur, delegation members prepared for their departures, though Paydar made a last-minute stop at Petronas Towers.
All told, the trip was very productive, creating positive lines for progress in IUPUI’s longstanding partnership with Malaysian universities.