Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) has signed an agreement with Shell Deepwater Borneo (Shell) and Brunei Shell Petroleum Company (BSP) on an initiative called ‘Artificial Intelligence (AI): Gift to the Nation’ with hopes to further the development of advanced technologies and enhance the competitive edge of science and technology in Brunei.

Under the deal, Shell will provide AI machinery and the related finding for a lab at UTB consisting of Developer Laptops, AI Edge Computer, Augmented Reality Device, Virtual Reality Device, AI Do-it-yourself kits and conversational interfaces.

The lab can be used to develop machine learning algorithms to solve complex problems in fields such as road safety research, agri-food science and technology, green technology, water resources and energy.

Universiti Teknologi Brunei Vice Chancellor Dr. Hjh Zohrah Hj Sulaiman (L) along with the Managing Director of Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Agneta Johnsgaard (2nd R) and the Managing Director of Shell Deepwater Borneo Dr. Ivo Verstralen (R) sigining the Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) as the Minister of Education Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Hj Hamzah Hj Sulaiman (2nd L) looks on. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

Moreover, Shell and BSP will offer guest lectures by Shell AI experts and organise Hackathons based on successful experiences with other universities in the world, using its platforms to solve some of the country’s toughest challenges.

In providing quality and relevant education, UTB in a statement said that it will continue its efforts of working closely with industry and academia for its students to receive first-hand exposure to the real world.

“These efforts will also help in the development of advanced technology in the country, particularly in contributing to the enhancement and application of scientific knowledge as well as technical capabilities,” the university said.

Together, the organisations hoped to develop and nurture the best talent and equip young Brunei professionals with first-class hands-on experience and knowledge of the advanced technologies.

Minister of Education Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Hj Hamzah Hj Sulaiman pose for a group photo with Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) Vice-Chancellor Dr Hjh Zohrah Hj Sulaiman, the Managing Director of Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Agneta Johnsgaard and the Managing Director of Shell Deepwater Borneo Dr Ivo Verstralen. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

In her opening remarks at the signing ceremony, Vice-Chancellor of UTB Professor Dr Hajah Zohrah Haji Sulaiman said that these contributions will certainly improve and enhance the experience of teaching and learning, as well as research capabilities across the faculty, schools and research centres in UTB.

“It will bring about a multitude of opportunities, where these machines and labs will be applicable to all kinds of research streams such as analysing individual behavioural patterns, analysing information related to economic projections, smart irrigation system, packaging processes, increasing rice production, hydro-informatics and climate change, and to the extent of utilising virtual reality technology to evaluate prototype simulations,” she said.

As part of UTB’s commitment to invest in the future development of advanced technologies in the country, she added, the machines and laboratories can also be benefited by others such as the STEP Centre at the Ministry of Education which can be utilised by students in the primary and secondary schools.

Universiti Teknologi Brunei Vice-Chancellor Dr. Hjh Zohrah Hj Sulaiman delivering her opening remarks during a signing ceremony between Universiti Teknologi Brunei, Shell Deepwater Borneo and Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sendirian Berhad held at UTB. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

Professor Dr Hajah Zohrah also extended her heartiest appreciation to Shell and BSP for their generous support and donation to UTB as well as their continuous endeavour in providing the highest quality education and experience to students and lecturers alike.

The signing which was held in UTB was attended and witnessed by Minister of Education Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Haji Hamzah Haji Sulaiman along with Acting Permanent Secretary (Higher Education) at the Ministry of Education, Dr Chin Wei Keh.

On her part, Shell Country Chair and Managing Director of BSP Agnete Johnsgaard-Lewis in her remarks said the world is entering the Industrial Revolution 4.0 where it touches every aspect such as healthcare, environment, business, education and engineering, among others.

Managing Director of Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Agneta Johnsgaard delivering her opening remarks during a signing ceremony between Universiti Teknologi Brunei, Shell Deepwater Borneo and Brunei Shell Petroleum Company held at UTB. Image: Fazizul Haqimie

She noted that the global market for AI is increasing and projected to reach more than USD$ 300 billion by 2027 especially this year where the use of AI has skyrocketed amidst the pandemic, using global crisis to search for new tools to manage and survive the pandemic.

“Your university’s vision is to be a global university impacting society. This very much resonates with one of Shell’s Strategic Ambitions which is a Strong Societal License to Operate. Shell cooperates with many academic institutions across the globe,” she said.

The managing director further said that BSP is also using AI to address business problems. “We have learned that as we increase exposure to digital capabilities, including AI, we are able to develop more complex skills in this space,” she added.

Image: Courtesy of UTB

AI in UTB, concluded the managing director, has the potential to support research programmes that can benefit the entire nation, not just in the energy industry but also on road safety, agri-food science and technology, green technology and water resources.

Signing on behalf of the university was its Vice-Chancellor while BSP was represented by Shell Country Chair and Managing Director of BSP Agnete Johnsgaard-Lewis and Shell Deepwater Borneo by its Managing Director, Dr Ivo Verstralen.

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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