“Is skipping classes really bad?” answered by UTM’s best student

First and foremost I’d like to thank Azwad bhai for his valued cooperation. This interview will give you an all new and exclusive insight into the life of UTM’s elite.

Q: Azwad, many people know you as one of the two Chancellor Award recipients of our last convocation but only few know about your failures and struggles. Could you share one of your biggest failures with us today?

A: Hmmm… Let’s go a while back. My first ever event I joined in UTM was Startup Weekend. I remember them asking me what I was good at and I replied Photoshop …. I’ve come a long long way from that Alhamdulillah and I had my fair share of failures along the way. My biggest regret of my University life was wasting the 3-months holiday we get in the first year. Not putting an internship or research work for that 3 months was not very productive. I still regret that.

Q: What do you think you have learned from this failure?

A: I learned that time () is very precious. Look at me now. I’m currently employed for a full-time job and time is not a luxury I can afford anymore, not like the days back in UTM. So, to all the students at Universities or haven’t started working yet, remember that free time won’t come so often later. Don’t waste it!

Q: Azwad, most of us go to class not because we want to but rather because we have to… this ends up in some of us skipping classes and even failing subjects. Is it really our fault? How can we change this?

A: There are many great lecturers that I found in UTM. I understand that all lecturers aren’t the best but they still do teach you something. We should respect that. In order to get the best out of classes, I always make sure that I sit at front and ask questions; first in my mind, and if I don’t have a good answer, spill it out to the lecturer. This really makes me think and I learn a lot more being active in class than just staring at a board. If I have to be in the class anyway, why not use the time in it?

There were rare times where I couldn’t learn much from a lecturer so I joined another section while attending my previous section as well. But why did I still attend the previous section? Well, the lecturer was trying his/her best. I had to appreciate that. See, when you appreciate a person, it mostly turns out good. In the end, learning from a different section, I did manage to score very well on that course.

What I’m trying to say is, don’t give up on a subject just because you didn’t get the lecturer you wanted. The World ain’t no sunshine and rainbow. If you don’t find the circumstances, ask yourself, “How can I make a better circumstance?”. Me joining 2 different sections for the same class is just an example.

Now you may not have the power to change the level of institutional status quo but, by spending your time learning actively in class, you’re actually saving up time from your daily schedule. Two hours used in class means 4 hours saved outside of it.

Finally, the most important thing to know is “WHY?”

For example, when I studied Signal and Systems, I could not really find interest in the class. So, I began asking why am I learning that course. I looked up at MIT courseware where I found out how signal processing can help to reduce audio noise for my favorite signer, Linkin Park, or how the satellite image I saw on Google Maps was cleaned out with similar techniques! This made me really curious about the course., making me eager to do more research on my own, both in and out of class.

So, next time when you are bored with a subject, find your why. Find whatever interesting you can dig out of it.

Q: Today everyone’s obsessed with the New Years Resolution … have you made any and followed it?

A: I don’t really have a New Year’s resolution but I do reflect on my productivity over the years and think of ways to improve it.

As for what I want to achieve… uhh… I’ll keep that a secret. Interestingly, your brain releases dopamine when you share your goals which makes you less likely to pursue them.

Better keep them in the mind.

Q: I have read your article on UTM news hub and in it you mentioned that you took up activities every week… I have assignments that are overdue for months and your suggesting we bite on more than we can chew?

A: Yes I’m telling you to bite on more than you can chew!

Frankly speaking, even if I gave you a month to do an assignment, you will only spend the last 3 days doing it. That’s how we all work.

I read in a book that the amount of time needed for a work is the amount of time allocated to it. I’d rather put a lot on my plate and get some done then to put a few and accomplish one or two. Plus, you guys are still young.

If you are not gonna use time now, then when?

It’s all about time management. I know I’m not gonna study for a quiz a week later. Therefore, I use the environment in favor of mine by buying myself, say… a ticket to a workshop.

Still that doesn’t mean you take up events with an exam in a few days, that would be foolish. Know your tides well.

Q: You were the very first students I stalked. It looked to me like you got a good track record of academics. Can you share some secrets… apps, meditation, Websites, You Tube channels we can benefit from?

As far YouTube channels go, I would recommend 3blue1brown; anything on Maths? This channel has you covered. This guy is a genius! One of the best Math Lecturers in the World.

Khan Academy is also a good choice for almost anything. Everything made easy. Even Grant Sanderson (author of 3blue1brown) is there with his Math lessons. Many of his old tutorials are there.

Neso academy can be used to learn about Electronics.

I also used the Pomodoro Technique to study. It’s where you study for 2 hours with a 5 min break between every 25 mins.

Two books I’d recommend EVERYONE to read are written by Cal Newport:

Quite self explanatory. Teaches you how to be an excellent student and how to overcome the competition.

It’s more about you going to “The Zone”; where you are so focused that nothing else can distract you. It teaches you how to get into that zone. I loved this book! Every person going to the workforce or higher studies should read this.

Now another tip I would suggest would be to   your dates at the start of every semester.

Put every single significant dates on, even if it’s just an estimation. This helps your mind visualize and prepare way earlier.

Q: Almost anyone I talk to about you either is really proud of you or respects you as a man of his word. There is a lot of unease with cross communication between the international and locals, sometimes even internationals THEMSELVES!… so do tell us of how you navigate the social jungle here in UTM?

A: For me there is one thing I really, really believe from the bottom of my heart. That is that every single human being

you have or will meet, has a good side. Focus on this good side.

When you look for good, your mind finds good everywhere. And when you highlight the good of people, people highlight the good of you back to them. And, more importantly, your mind begins to train to take the positives. A positive mentality can even make a bad situation good. As for me, I am glad to get to study in UTM, where I met so many amazing people; local, international, same age, older and younger. Alhamdulillah. I really appreciate their support throughout my journey.

Q: Okay Azwad, it’s all been professional so far… now let’s get real. Relationships!

Everyone has this on their mind. How was it in your time and what advice can you give to people in search of it?

A: Of course we are supposed to feel attracted to the opposite gender as human beings. There is nothing wrong with that. The point is, how to take the next step. Let me explain.

When you came to UTM, you had some criteria of how your dream girl would be like. As the years go by your expectations of her change. So, if you get too attached to someone too early in your study, there is a good chance that she might not be the one you would be looking for after 4 years of UTM life.

I know many of my friends who stayed in relationship for almost 4 years, and, at the end of their studies, they just parted their ways, as if nothing happened. The problem is, when you emotionally attach to someone for so long and then break up, you just create a psychological scar in your mind and you would not be able to trust another person with that much confidence again, having the fear that it might happen again. It is not right for you and your future other half.

Furthermore, those who are very confident that “she is the one” do remember that this will DEFINITELY affect your studies. You came to UTM to study. If you end up spending a lot of your study time towards a person and your CGPA gets down in the process, there is a good chance that you won’t get a very good job. How would you approach the girl’s father with a GG biodata, ah? Love will fly through the window if there is no food on the table.

Now don’t try to lecture me on how true love will rule over all :P. This is not Bollywood and songs will not be sang on the background as you approach your fiancee with the title “A guy who loves you, but doesn’t do anything (aka. jobless)”. Get your life straight first. Yeah, keep an eye on who want to approach. Keep things friendly (never asked you to be a stone, did I? :3), but know your boundaries. Make sure your career at least have gone somewhere. Then, let your parents know and it’s time for action. The real life movie begins…

Q: Now your working at Vitrox as a R&D Engineer. Tell me Azwad, how important was your CGPA in getting that job? And is Malay language necessary to learn to communicate in work?

A: No, Malay language wasn’t that necessary in my field because the people working here have a good command of the English language.

My CGPA was vital in me getting the job.

Getting a first class (3.7 and above) gives you the advantage of almost always being selected for an interview.

After being selected, you also need to have the practical skills to land the job. Thus, it is a balance between the two.

At least 3.5 and no way below 3.0. I know this is not an easy feat but this isn’t something impossible in UTM.

Q: Finally you always credit your success to the Almighty. Tell us, your brothers and sisters of various faiths, why do you do this?

A: Where I’m from, there are way more intellectual people than me who couldn’t afford to travel abroad to study. Being given not only the opportunity of studying in UTM but also to pass it with flying colors, should I not at least be grateful?

In the eyes of Allah (S.W.T), He doesn’t judge people based on the results but rather on the effort and there are people who put way more effort than me. So when Allah (SWT) accepts my prayers and gives me all this rizq ( provisions ), who else should I be grateful to?

I’ve met over 3000 people in UTM. Even though I don’t remember all of their names but I remember their faces, and I do remember them well. To have such a good bonding between their hearts and mine is nothing short of a miracle.

Think of it, Nizar, have we ever met in person? Yet, here we are having an interview session, working for the betterment of the community. Allah (SWT) sends this connection from above and it’s Him that connects the hearts of people. Alhamdulillah (All praise be to Allah). I hope we all can use what He has gifted us with and make this World a better place; for our beloved ones, the known and the unknown. Ameen.

That wraps up the interview and thank you for reading.

Up next we might have the ever famous Musa ( yes the past paper prodigy) so stay subscribed to stay… informed.

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