Keep Calm and Continue Reading! In 1971, I was enrolled in Form 4 at the Technical Institute, Penang (also known as Tanjong).
My course of study was Mechanical Engineering & Workshop Practice, but somehow, there was a subject called “Surveying”. I have forgotten much of it, save for the most enjoyable outdoor practical sessions.
The worksite is where the present Penang State Mosque stands. Back then, it was a rambutan plantation. So while we practised with our Theodolites, Measuring Tapes and Ranging Poles, half the time we set our sights on the irresistible globes of hairy, fiery red balls dangling tantalizingly from the branches around us.
Whenever the teacher-in-charge was not in view, up went our Ranging Poles (about 2m long), to whack down the rambutans – and exact sweet justification for our labour in the sun.
Not a case of badge-engineering that is so prevalent nowadays. Rather it symbolized the coming of age of a school.
My school in Butterworth – Assumption Boys’ School – apparently was an offshoot of St Xavier’s Institution, Penang, planted on the “ulu” mainland by the Christian Brothers. And it also adopted the school badge of its more prestigious elder sibling, for a long time.
When I entered Std One in 1962, we all wore that SXI cloth badge — stitched onto the pocket of our white shirts. No one asked what “Labor Omnia Vincit” meant.
Then, circa 1968/69, a new Headmaster came onboard. Brother Stephen was distinctly different from his easy-going predecessors. He decided it was time for us to step out of the shadows of Big Brother – with a new (metallic) badge and an inspiring triple-A motto: Aim And Achieve.
Bidding goodbye to my old alma mater – Assumption Boys School, Butterworth – in 1970, I applied for entry into The Technical Institute of Penang, located along Jalan Ibbetson. There I was, from Form Four (MCE), right up to Upper Six (HSC).
“TI” was a unique secondary school of sorts, which combined the twin pursuits of nurturing academic brain power, and acquiring useful hands-on engineering design and workshop practice.
For us in the Mechanical Engineering course, we had many hours of very enjoyable experience, learning to use machine tools, such as the Milling Machines (horizontal & vertical types), the Shaping Machine, and the Lathe. In a nutshell, using powered cutting tools to fashion objects from steel and other metals to the precise shapes and forms desired.
Among the items I made were a Bolt & Nut pair, and a Spur Gear.
I made a return visit in 2015.