The Malta Independent 18 September 2021, Saturday

UM embarks on large-scale infrastructural project to improve engineering-related research in Malta

Monday, 26 July 2021, 16:31 Last update: about 3 months ago

The University of Malta has embarked on a capital investment project of €38M, €30M of which have been funded through the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020, to set up a Transdisciplinary Research and Knowledge Exchange (TRAKE) complex at the Msida campus.

The project "will further strengthen the ongoing engineering related research in Malta," the University said in a statement.

TRAKE aims at providing a dedicated facility equipped to enable advanced transdisciplinary research in select specialised areas of engineering. "This will allow the University of Malta to attract top-level researchers and academics, post-docs and support staff to work and train at this new state-of-the-art facility. Furthermore, TRAKE will strengthen and support technology transfer, entrepreneurship and knowledge exchange with industry, with the aim of supporting the commercialisation and valorisation of ongoing research, as well as collaborative research and innovation projects with industry."


The project has financed the construction, finishing and equipage of a new building dedicated to research in materials engineering, the university said.

"This laboratory is due to be completed over the coming months, following which the various laboratory spaces will be populated with specialised equipment including analytical tools, materials mechanical testing and an array of newly acquired surface processing and coating rigs."

University of Malta Rector, Prof. Alfred J. Vella visited this lab on Thursday, 22 July 2021, and he was shown around by the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Prof. Ing. Andrew Sammut, and Deputy Dean Prof Ing. Glenn Cassar.

"This is an admirable effort to attract and retain top researchers to and at UM. Our competitive edge is our human capital, and giving them this state-of-the-art lab will help us address complex issues with more efficiency and develop more expertise in our service to the nation and international arena", said Prof. Vella.

"The project also financed the construction, finishing, furnishing and equipping of a multi-storey building at the hearth of the Msida Campus composed primarily of laboratory facilities, seminar and conference rooms, researchers study space and all the additional amenities required to provide an adequate, safe and a comfortable environment for academics, researchers, technical staff and students. Construction works have been concluded and the installation of services and finishing are currently underway, with completion due at the end of 2022."

The Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Prof. Andrew Sammut, said "this project is a game changer for the industry and the country at large as it will enable and reinforce research in a variety of research areas, in line with Malta's smart specialisation strategy".

Malta's Research and Innovation Smart Specialisation Strategy was spearheaded by the Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST), to develop Malta's R&I and economic potential and includes the thematic areas related to High Value Added Manufacturing, Health, Transport and Resource efficiency. 

The new facility will include resources and provisions for a wide variety of research activities, including intelligent transportation systems, smart buildings, mechatronics, automation and control, image and motion analysis, assisted living, welding and joining techniques, novel composites, crystal engineering, electrical machine design, electrical energy systems and aerospace systems, among others.

A collaboration with Mater Dei Hospital will also see the project accommodating facilities for research related to Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), specifically to enable advancements in neural engineering, assist with the detection of tumours and support medical professionals in their decision-making processes.

UM's Pro-Rector for Research and Knowledge Transfer, Prof. Ing. Saviour Zammit, concluded that "this project will ultimately improve Malta's research infrastructure and empower its researchers to progress and reach new levels of innovation and excellence across various fields of engineering. In turn, research and innovation supports job creation in almost every sector of the economy."


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