By line: Aisyah Mohamad Sharif

Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Mathematics (FSM) UPSI has organized a Vocational Collage Learning Course Program: Practical Plating. This program was implemented on 15 August 2023 at chemistry laboratory 10, Department of Chemistry. This program is led by Dr. Aisyah binti Mohamad Sharif as Program Director together with 8 chemistry lecturers, 3 assistant science officers and an administrative assistant as a committee member. A total of 23 participants consisting of 19-year old vocational college students and 4 vocational college teachers attended this program successfully.

In a bid to enhance their practical skills, vocational students from College Vocational Slim River plunged into the fascinating world of chemistry, participating in a hands-on learning session revolving around the electroplating process. The students eagerly embraced the opportunity to deepen their knowledge and gain practical experience in this essential industrial technique. This program is in line with the aim of the dean of the Faculty of Science and Mathematics, Associate Prof Dr. Mohd Faizal Nizam Lee bin Abdullah of glorifying Science and Mathematics education with the motto of the Faculty of Science and Mathematics “Cultivating the Creative Mind”. Thus, in line with the Vice-Chancellor of the UPSI, Prof. Datuk, Dr. Amin MD Taff, whose goal is to make the UPSI the national educational consultant.

Under the guidance of experienced chemistry lecturers, the students were introduced to the fundamentals of electroplating and its applications in various industries, including automotive, electronics, and jewellery manufacturing. Electroplating is a process that involves depositing a layer of metal onto an object’s surface, typically to enhance its appearance or protect it from corrosion.

The activity took place in the well-equipped chemistry lab of Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and Mathematics, UPSI, which provided the vocational students with state-of-the-art facilities and materials needed for electroplating. The lab featured an array of tools, including electrolyte solutions, anodes made of zinc metal, power supplies, and beakers, allowing the students to experiment and observe the transformative nature of electroplating first-hand.

The session commenced with an insightful lecture highlighting the theoretical aspects of electroplating. The lecturers, Dr. Mohamad Syahrizal Ahmad and Dr. Mohamad Idris bin Saidin explained the underlying principles, such as electrochemical reactions and the role of different components in the plating process. The students actively participated, asking questions and engaging in discussions to clarify their understanding.

Following the lecture, the students were divided into pairs and tasked with the practical aspect of the session. Each group was given an object, such as a mild steel round bar, which they would subsequently electroplate with a thin layer of Zinc. The students meticulously prepared the objects, ensuring their cleanliness and avoiding any contaminants that could hinder the quality of the plating.

Wearing protective gloves and goggles, the students proceeded to immerse the objects into the electrolyte solution, which contained zinc ions of their chosen plating material. They carefully positioned the mild steel round bar as cathode while the anode—made of the Zinc sheet—were connected to the power supplies. Electrons flowed through the circuit, resulting in the deposition of a zinc metallic layer onto the mild steel round bar’ surfaces.

The students monitored the changes in the zinc sheet and the mild steel round bar

Throughout the electroplating process, the students attentively monitored the changes in the objects, observing how the zinc ions efficiently adhered to the surface, eventually transforming their appearance. The thrill of witnessing the transformation first-hand sparked excitement and curiosity among the vocational students, solidifying their grasp of the theoretical concepts they had learned earlier.

The student on the left holding the zinc sheet and the student on the right showed the electroplating result

The day wrapped up with a comprehensive review of the students’ electroplated objects and discussions on the challenges encountered during the hands-on session. The chemistry lecturers provided valuable feedback, commending the students’ commitment and dedication to mastering the electroplating process.

The vocational students expressed gratitude for the invaluable opportunity to learn beyond the confines of textbooks and embrace practical application in a controlled laboratory environment. They acknowledged that the hands-on experience enhanced their comprehension of electroplating, boosting their confidence in pursuing future careers where this skill will be highly sought after.

By bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application, the vocational students’ visit to the chemistry lab at Department of Chemistry, UPSI provided a solid foundation for their future endeavours. The hands-on experience not only strengthened their understanding of the electroplating process but also piqued their interest in the vast possibilities offered by the world of chemistry.

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