Right staff, right students, right goals

Thursday, December 24, 2009, by Ernest Cachia
Right staff, right students, right goals
Students attending a lecture in the Faculty of ICT at the University of Malta.
The new ICT faculty building at the University of Malta has a budget allocation of over €17 million and is funded
by the European Union and the Maltese government through the European Regional Development Fund
programme. The project will involve the construction, furnishing and equipping of the new faculty building, and is
currently by far the largest project underway at the University of Malta.
Once the new building comes into operation the Faculty of ICT will acquire much needed laboratory and
teaching/tutorial space, not to mention student and staff meeting areas, and various technical areas.
This will open up new possibilities for industrial collaboration on the basis of research and project participation
using capable premises and equipment. Students will be offered modern lecture and tutorial facilities, meeting
and knowledge spaces, and even a thesis repository area. Researchers will be able to contemplate work of a
more challenging and significant nature, and the various departments will be able to create new areas of
expertise and nurture the growth of existing ones.
In the faculty's true tradition of always striving to work on the cutting edge of technology, the faculty has also
increased its involvement in the fledgling area of mobile learning.
Mobile learning (m-learning) attempts to use modern mobile technology and devices to extend the reach and
availability of the benefits derived from e-learning. Due to the proliferation and accessibility of ever more powerful
mobile devices, m-Learning is fast becoming a hot area of research and development. The "mLearn" series of
conferences is widely recognised as one of the most prestigious international conferences in the field of mLearning and is aimed at those interested in enhancing learning, designing content and developing systems for
mobile devices and wireless networks. The next conference will be hosted by the University of Malta though the
Among the industry awards that students of our faculty can proudly add to their arsenal, one can cite the
Microsoft Imagine Cup competition, in which every local educational establishment can and do participate.
We are exceptionally proud to note that this year our students were awarded all the places which were on offer in
this prestigious competition, and will now be travelling abroad to compete on an international standing.
Another prestigious award is the Sony-Ericsson Award. This event, under the kind auspices of Ericsson Inc.,
awards the best student final year projects, judged by a panel of experts from our faculty, in the field of
telecommunications. This year the level of interest in the projects selected was very high, as was the perceived
level of quality. In fact, after the formal part of the awards event, representatives from the Ericsson approached
some of the awardees with expression of business interest.
Together with the Faculty of Engineering, our faculty also participates in the European "Cleansky" project - one of
the largest European Union Joint Technology Initiative project currently underway involving most major European
aviation companies (such as Agusta Westland, Airbus, Alenia, Dassault Aviation, EADS, Eurocopter, Liebherr,
Rolls-Royce, Saab, Safran and Thales) and several major academic and research establishments. The overall
goal of this project is to set new standards and propose new technologies for the European aviation industry of
the future.
The main undercurrent being less carbon emissions, less fuel consumption, overall environment consciousness
and a safer air travel industry. Our joint participation is in the field of Mission Trajectory Management, in particular
the area of trajectory modelling software. Staff from the Faulty of ICT is currently working with staff from the
Faculty of Engineering towards creating new and more effective ways in which software solutions for several
aviation systems can be developed and configured.
I am tempted to go on listing and outlining our faculty's activities and involvement, like the IEEE student paper
contest, the various national boards in which the faculty is involved, the numerous project proposals we are
currently helping in, student exchange schemes we have enacted, specific novel forms of collaboration with
individual local ICT companies, etc, but I feel that this would only extend this message quantitatively, and not
I strongly believe that we can achieve the right goals only if we have the right staff, the right students and if both
these communities have the right goals and the right drive. I would therefore like to thank both academic and
non-academic staff and students for making us what we are now and look forward with excitement at what we
can achieve together in the near future.
Dr Cachia is the dean of the Faculty of ICT at the University of Malta.