Achievements on Global Academic Leadership

Founding Dean of UTM FChE, Raising it to Global Prominence

Prof Zain became the head of UTM Chemical Engineering (ChE) department in the year 2000 and served for three terms until 2006, making him the longest-serving ChE head of department in UTM to date.  In 2010, he became the founding Dean of the Faculty of Chemical Engineering (FChE) and served for three terms until 2015.  Prof Zain spearheaded his team’s pursuit of global excellence and propelled the ChE program from a position of 200-250 in the QS World University Subject Ranking in 2010 when he first helmed FChE, to among the elite global top 51-100 (top 1%) in 2014 and 2015. Under his leadership, the UTM FChE also won the Academic Quality Award after securing the 1st place (among 20 schools) and Five Star (highest) rating in academic quality in 2015.  In the same year, FChE also ranked No. 1 in UTM in research outputs.  The continuous and consistent success of FChE can be best attributed to Prof Zain’s relentless drive for FChE’s winning culture centred on core values of integrity, unity, excellence and for universal well-being, that he introduced.


Establishing UTM Five Defining Research Niches that Later Became 4 HiCOEs

Prof Zain’s was appointed as the chair of UTM’s Restructuring Task Force (RTF) in 2014 during his tenure as the FChE dean due to his command in both academic as well as research leaderships (In 2014 he received the prestigious award of Tokoh Akademik and Tokoh Penyelidikan UTM, making him the first UTM academician to receive such award simultaneously).  As the RTF chair, he played a central role in a highly challenging and intense engagement efforts to get more than 1800 researchers and academicians from 11 Research Alliances (RAs) and 19 academic schools in UTM to buy-in to the RTF’s merger proposal.  The exercise culminated in the consolidation of 11 RAs into 5 UTM niche RAs, and the merger of the FChE with Faculty Petroleum and Renewable Energy Engineering into the Faculty of Chemical and Energy Engineering (FCEE), and ample resource savings.   To date, 4 MOHE Higher Institution Centres of Excellence (HiCOEs) have emerged from the five UTM niche RAs he helped set up, making UTM the University with the most number of awarded national HiCOEs to date.


Founded UTM Faculty of Chemical and Energy Engineering (FCEE), and Raising FCEE to Global Prominence, and to win the IDB Prestigious International Award.

Prof Zain became the founding Dean of the new consolidated FCEE after being voted and appointed to lead FCEE in October 2015.  In February 2016, FCEE secured the highest rating among 19 faculties in UTM’s Research University (RU) internal assessment.  UTM FCEE also won the Academic Quality Award for 2nd and 3rd years in a row in 2016 and 2017. In November of 2016, he mobilised the FCEE toward winning the prestigious global IDB (Islamic Development Bank) excellence award.  UTM FCEE won the USD 100,000 prize and cited as an institution with outstanding achievements in the field of chemical engineering. In 2016 and 2017 UTM Chemical Engineering emerged in the global top 50 of NTU (National Taiwan University) Ranking (at #48), and ranked as top (No. 1) in Malaysia under URAP (University Ranking by Academic Performance – Scopus) Ranking, Shanghai University Ranking that are based on research and publication data. The global (scival) research footprint has indicated UTM as one of the fastest-rising Malaysia RU that has made significant contributions in the area of chemical engineering and energy engineering.  Prof Zain’s persistent drive for the FCEE team to live the core values of integrity, unity, excellence and for universal well-being, and his personally exemplifying these core values, have been the key to the FCEE winning culture that resulted in continuous and consistent global success.


Leading UTM-Wide Synergy Transformation and Exporting UTM Academic Programs Beyond Boundaries via Trans-National Education (TNE)

Prof Zain was appointed the UTM Deputy Vice Chancellor of Academic and International (DVCAI) in February of 2017.  He was also appointed as the acting Deputy Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs from July 2017 until November 2017.  Upon his appointment as DVCAI, he instantly embarked upon a massive transformation program aimed at building a synergistic collaboration platform into UTM academic eco-system, and, at preparing a futuristic 21st century curriculum, graduates and educators.  The initiative involved extensive engagements across UTM and the consolidation of 18 Faculties into 7 Colleges that is scheduled to commence in June of 2018.  Early into his tenure as DVCAI, Prof Zain has also spearheaded three other mega-initiatives including the (i) export of UTM life-long learning programs via Trans-National Education (TNE), (ii) UTM Blue Ocean Shift on Engineering Education and (iii) the UTM Strategic Human-Resource for Academic and Research Planning (SHARP).


Recognition by The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) UK for Prof Zain’s Global Academic Leadership

Prof Zain’s leadership in academic and research has led universities in Malaysia and abroad to appoint him as a visiting professor and engage him as an advisor/assessor of their ChE programs; and the National Council of Professors to appoint him as one of the ChE expert panels.  Due to the pivotal role he played in advancing the ChE profession internationally, he was conferred the prestigious international status of Fellow IChemE by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE UK), which is the leading global ChE professional institution.  In March 2014, he was appointed as one of the six panel members of the international IChemE Judging committee on Research into Computer-Aided Product and Process Engineering (IChemE CAPE).  In June of 2014, he received the prestigious appointment as one of the 15 members of the elite Global IChemE Medals and Prizes Committee (IChemE-MPC) that comprises of IChemE past and present global Presidents, Vice Presidents and distinguished Fellows.  The IChemE-MPC selects winners from more than 40 countries worldwide for numerous IChemE prestigious global awards. Prof Zain is the only representative from Asia for both the IChemE CAPE and IChemE-MPC.  Throughout these distinguished roles, Prof Zain has strongly influenced the development of chemical engineers, ChE education and profession in Malaysia and worldwide.


Sponsorship by Imperial College of London to Deliver the Prestigious Imperial College Chemical Engineering Distinguished Lecture

In recognition of his distinguished contributions in the field of chemical engineering, in 2014, Prof Zain was invited and sponsored to deliver the Chemical Engineering Distinguished Lecture by the Imperial College of London.