Curtin Sarawak's modern campus has often been described a piece of Australia transplanted in Sarawak. Many equate it to stepping into another world. Thus is the uniqueness and allure of the campus.
With the opening of the impressive 300-acre campus in the suburb of Senadin to the north of the city in 2002, Curtin established a firm foothold in Malaysia. Prior to that, for some three years, the fledgling campus occupied temporary premises at a secondary school at Riam Road in the city's southern outskirts.
Set in the midst of open flatland that stretches all the way to the Baram River (Sarawak and Malaysia's second-longest) where the Trans-Borneo Highway and the ASEAN Bridge links Miri to neighbouring Brunei, the campus is surrounded by lush greenery as far as the eye can see. Interspersed within this expanse are wetlands, including Sarawak's first wetland recreational park, as well as man-made lakes and canals that attract a variety of migratory and water birds.
Such scenery reflects Sarawak's environment of constant greenery, water and bountiful wildlife. Coupled with Miri's famed sunsets and Senadin's location away from the bustle of the city, the ambience of the campus is one our students find tranquil, inspiring and conducive for studying.
Our campus is regarded as one of the most modern and unique in the region. As one walks through the campus, it is evident considerable thought and meticulous attention to detail was paid to its design. The planners and architects took note of the site's natural features, then planned buildings and structures around them, making sure they complemented, and in some instances enhanced, the environment.
To reflect the fact that Curtin is an Australian university, they did a splendid job of transplanting the Curtin architectural model to Sarawak. However, this was not done wholesale as they sought to combine the Australian architecture with traditional Sarawakian elements for a hybrid look that is distinctly Curtin Sarawak.
While the designs of the buildings draw heavily from Curtin traditions, the campus is landscaped according to the local style and aesthetics to fit in with Sarawak's tropical climate. Indeed, an incredible variety of both ornamental and hardy indigenous trees and shrubs can be found on the campus and the lush, green surroundings present a unique sense of place and a relaxing environment for our staff and students to work and study. Another tropical feature is the numerous covered walkways and shaded areas that provide respite from the sometimes harsh tropical weather.
The planners also sought to amalgamate modern technology with the campus' unique architecture and traditional flavour. Buildings incorporate high-tech materials and passive solar design to take advantage of the environment.
The use of modern technology on the campus is also very extensive as Curtin places great emphasis on utilising technology to support teaching, learning and research. Significant investment in computing and networking facilities continues to be made to ensure facilities are state-of-the-art. The campus currently has 14 computer labs with over 400 PCs for student use in addition to terminals located in the library that provide access to the library's online databases. Furthermore, sophisticated IT linkages provide access to the online resources of the main campus in Perth.
As research activities are an essential component of academic excellence at Curtin Sarawak, the campus boasts a number of state-of-the-art science and engineering labs, including Chemical Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Structural Engineering, Electrical Power, Electronic and Communication, Embedded System, Networking, Renewable Energy and Geophysics labs. Film and television students, meanwhile, can count on a custom-built Film Lab and Editing Suite equipped with the latest broadcast-quality film-making equipment and software.
Students at Curtin Sarawak can find everything they need on the campus. In addition to the library and laboratories, there is academic support, study areas, a choice of food outlets, student lounge, postal and banking facilities, campus bookshop, convenience store, health and first aid centre, Islamic Centre, and public transport.
They also have access to recreational facilities such as the multipurpose Recreation and Event Centre which houses an indoor basketball court, badminton courts and gym facilities, as well as a football field, rugby pitch, outdoor basketball court, tennis courts and indoor volleyball cum futsal court.
As the campus has grown well beyond its original confines, and consequently finding one's way around the place become more complex, the campus is segmented into six precincts. For easier identification, the precincts are named after birds found in northern Sarawak (and possibly on the campus itself), with associated colour codes and signage. All the precincts are linked via an extensive system of covered walkways.
A large man-made lake is the focus of the campus around which all the core buildings are strategically aligned. Notwithstanding rumours of crocodiles lurking in its waters, the lake is an integral part of the campus landscape and provides an ideal backdrop for photo shoots, garden events and lakeside leisure activities.
Curtin Sarawak is now entering its next phase of development spanning the next five years, during which its student population is expected to surpass 5,000.
A state-of-the art Library and Auditorium complex, a signature work of architecture and new campus landmark, has been completed. Incorporating a 400-seat auditorium and modern library facilities, it heralds an enrichment of campus life and the student and staff experience.
Other upcoming projects include the Federal Government-funded Miri BioValley Park being developed with the Sarawak Ministry of Industrial Development and housing the Curtin Sarawak Research Institute (CSRI), a new School of Engineering and Science building, a multi-purpose teaching block, additional student accommodation blocks, an Islamic Centre and gymnasium, as well as the refurbishment of existing spaces.
All the new infrastructure will incorporate contemporary and original architecture and the latest building concepts and technologies to reflect Curtin's commitment to innovation and excellence, and also continue to feature Australian and Sarawakian characteristics.
Fifteen years on, Curtin Sarawak's magnificent campus proudly stands as a tribute to the bold vision and determination of those in Malaysia and Australia who believed a world-class campus could be established in Miri, and moreover, be the outstanding success it is today.