Dr. Balamuralithara Balakrishnan, the distinguished Associate Professor from the Faculty of Art, Sustainability, and Creative Industry at the Sultan Idris Education University, has led his team, consisting of Dr. Muhammad Ikhwan Hadi Yaacob from the Sultan Idris Education University, Dr. Chua Yaw Long from The National Energy University of Malaysia, and others, to win international recognition for their research project. Their project, among thousands of entries, was carefully selected to receive the international recognition for Highly Commended Interdisciplinary Research Award of the Emerald Award 2022–23 from Emerald Publishing UK. Dr. Balamuralithara had previously won the internationally acclaimed fellowship award at the ITMO University in Petersburg, Russia, as part of a Fellowship and Professorship Programme. He had won the esteemed award with the aim of completing his research project titled Ethnics and Sustainability in the Creative Process. The brilliant professor was the first Malaysian citizen to receive such an exceptional fellowship. Dr. Balamuralitharan was also the first Malaysian to be granted an honorary grant of nearly USD 10,000 from the Engineering Information Foundation, based in New York, US. This righteous educational research project has also received a generous project fund from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers of the United Kingdom, further testifying to the world-class intellectual standard of this academic labour.
The exceptional scholar, Dr. Balamuralithara Balakrishnan has dedicated his life to training academics in crucial and critical fields such as Educational Methodologies, Creative Innovative Learning, and much more. The brilliant academic has had 59 publications of his work, some of which can be found in the International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences and the International Journal of Innovation, Creativity, and Change. The accomplished professor has garnered himself important recognitions such as the Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam International Innovative Scientist Award 2021 from the Arunai International Research Foundation in India, as well as the My Teachers Tryscience Award from the 27th International Invention & Innovation Exhibition (ITEX 2016). His dedication and devotion towards utilising his knowledge to benefit the building of a more equal and sustainable society has led this exemplary individual towards winning this coveted recognition from Emerald Publishing. His expert leadership in the scholarly research titled “I am a Girl, I am an Engineer”: Inspire and Empower Impoverished Urban Girls to be Future Engineers is focused on the ambitious project of encouraging economically underprivileged girls aged 14–15 from the B40 category to strive towards pursuing a successful career in the field of STEM. This project is both intellectually and socially challenging, as young girls in Malaysia, while receiving education, are still economically shunned from pursuing university education. The project offers some much-needed guidance towards building a future where young girls from working class communities can confidently work towards a degree in engineering, aiding them in creating a stronger, more equal nation. The project is founded on the principle of Malaysia Madani, incorporating the core idea that poverty can be eradicated by the dedicated and creative effort of educating the masses of working-class children. It was this moral and intellectual pursuit that led Dr. Balamuralithara and his research team to be awarded the Highly Commended Interdisciplinary Research Award of the Emerald Award 2022–23.
Their courageous project had assembled hardworking female secondary school teachers from Ipoh, Perak, who educate children on subjects related to STEM. This particular location and schools were selected for the crucial reason that they educated a majority of B40 category students. These wonderful educators were then given a 2-day dedicated training in fields such as Design Thinking, Creative STEM activities, and 3D Printing. This particular programme structure was constructed so the young, impressionable female students could be inspired by their female educators, viewing them as mentors and role models that they could emulate. Female students being exposed to women educators enlightening them on the field of STEM can act as a catalyst for young girls to cultivate the ambition to pursue a career in this very exact field.
The Real Impact Awards are a renowned international recognition that is granted by the globally respected publishing house, Emerald Publishing UK. The award is designated to scholars around the world who are contributing their intellectual capabilities towards the upliftment of their communities. The winning project for this year’s award goes to the research project titled Exploring Cultural Capital in Local Communities, which is the culmination of the work of Professor Chris Brown of the University of Warwick, Professor Chris Gerrard of the University of Durham, and John Castling of the Auckland Project.