Zakiah Ahmad, the Timber Engineering Expert

By: Nur Hamizah Binti Mohd Radzi

SHAH ALAM: Professor Dr Zakiah Ahmad, head of the Institute for Infrastructure Engineering & Sustainable Management (IIESM), Universiti Teknologi MARA won a gold medal in the invention category at the recent International Invention, Innovation & Technology Exhibition (ITEX) and the Best Invention Award from the Japan Intellectual Property Organization (JIPA).

The award received was through her recent green project research, “Prefabricated wall constructed using wood-wool composite panel” with special design for easy installation during construction. This project utilized 90 percent wood fibre as building material, in contrast to other projects which utilize concrete.

What does make the project interesting is the panel made of the strand from the chosen wood is used as the building component.

Although fragile-looking, the wood wool panel has been tested and proven to be suitable for use as a building material. It has strength that meets the standards in building construction. The product is lighter and delivers good thermal comfort.

“This product is environmentally friendly and sustainable as we use uncommercialised timber such as kelampayan. As they are fast-growing trees, we can reduce our reliance on Mother Nature.”

“Before the product is commercialized, we run tests to proof its structural performance, durability, fire performance and to ensure that it meets standards and specification,” said Zakiah Ahmad.

This research also won a silver medal at the Salon Geneva International Invention Competition, as well as a Special Award from the National Research Council of Thailand.

Zakiah Ahmad, who is fondly known as the timber engineering expert, has been engaged in timber research for 19 years. She has produced more than 159 scientific publications, in journals, books, proceedings and creative writing.

She is passionately active in research related to engineered wood products such as glued laminated timber, laminated veneer lumber, cross laminated timber, plywood, wood/fibre cement and plastic composite products, et cetera.

She plays an important role in the development of Malaysian Standards on timber structures and  as Malaysian delegates for ISO technical committee for timber structures. Zakiah also has served as consultant, commitee member and advisor to numerous public and private agencies and institutions as well as  visiting research scientist at BRE Research Institute, University of Bath, United Kingdom, Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, School of Chemical Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University India and Timber Research Institute, Kyoto University Japan on timber related activities. She also active in giving keynote papers on timber related topics at numerous seminars and conferences at national and international level.

She is currently moving to raise IIESM to greater heights and aiming for it to become a Higher Institution Centre of Excellence in five years. She aims to promote IIESM at an international level.

IIESM is a Centre of Excellence focusing on research in civil engineering disciplines. It aims to solve infrastructure and environmental engineering problems in a more sustainable way and introduce new state-of-the-art technologies.


For further information, please contact Prof Dr Zakiah Omar at  Institute for Infrastructure Engineering and Sustainable Management (IIESM), Level 3, Block 1, Engineering Complex, Universiti Teknologi MARA, 40450 Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan, MALAYSIA or through email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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