Foundation in Engineering: The First Step To Becoming An Engineer

Engineering is the application of science and mathematical principles to solve world problems. In practicality, it encompasses a large family of careers. And while most engineering disciplines share many core physics concepts, they branch out into disparate specialisms that dictate very different skill sets. 

So, before considering which pathway to take into the engineering world—whether academic or vocational—it’s imperative to have a foundation on which to base this decision.

science and mathematic
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What is a Foundation in Engineering?

Foundation in Engineering is an entry-level course that serves as a pathway to specialised engineering degree programmes. This foundational course provides engineering hopefuls with the academic skills and confidence to further their education. It also offers easier admittance into undergraduate engineering degree programmes upon successful completion.

During the course duration, students typically study engineering fundamentals to solve real-life problems. Topics include design, energy, mathematical application, manufacturing, computing, materials, mechanics and structural analysis. 

Foundation in Engineering programme is expressly designed to expose students to the broad spectrum of engineering disciplines via tutorials, lectures and case studies. These introduce mathematics, physics and information technology elements relevant to today’s multiple engineering specialities. During the programme, assessment can be either through project work, continuous assessment or end-of-semester examinations.

in the class of Foundation in Engineering
Photo by Jeswin Thomas

Foundation in Engineering requirements

To enrol in a Foundation in Engineering course, one must have studied any of these subjects at SPM or equivalent, namely: 

  • Mathematics. 
  • At least one science subject (Physics / Biology/ Chemistry or an Engineering subject) 
  • Additional Mathematics (required by some universities)

Foundation in Engineering subjects

The typical Foundation in Engineering course should give one a solid understanding of engineering fundamentals. As such, it should constitute numerous mathematics and science modules related to engineering, such as:

  • Calculus
  • Engineering Mathematics
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Principles of Chemistry
  • Computer Methods for Engineers
  • Trigonometry
  • Programming
  • Mechanics
  • Light, Waves and Electrons
  • Study Skills for Engineers

How will you be assessed in a Foundation in Engineering programme? 

Most universities grade students of Foundation in Engineering based on a combination of coursework, continuous assessment and end-of-semester exams. So, as part of the programme, students will typically spend substantial time engaged in laboratory work, working on course assignments and attending lectures.

How long is a Foundation in Engineering? 

Typically, a Foundation in Engineering programme lasts approximately one year. However, in some universities, it isn’t a stand-alone year but an initial part of a programme leading towards a Bachelors’s in Engineering (BEng) or Master’s in Engineering (MEng) degree. 

After completing the foundation year, you’re usually expected to progress to the first year of your chosen engineering degree course (so long as you accomplish an average pass grade of at least 50%). 

Is a Foundation in Engineering the right course for you?

Generally, Foundation in Engineering programmes are designed to provide the necessary knowledge needed for an engineering degree. They are a rigorous endorsement of key elements of a student’s pathway towards becoming a professionally registered engineer.

Such innovative and technologically driven programmes typically employ digital tools to enhance teaching and learning, enabling students to immerse themselves in hands-on learning activities like case studies and real-life projects.

This allows students to develop core competencies in the field of engineering upon course completion. The head-start is also vital for becoming sought-after future engineers capable of positively impacting the world around them.

In addition to gaining analytical and technical knowledge, Foundation in Engineering focuses on equipping students with critical thinking and interpersonal skills. This enables them to succeed in their undergraduate studies and as independent lifelong learners.

pursue an engineering degree

Lastly, students will have opportunities to interact with professors, lecturers and students across the Faculty of Engineering. This may help one to make an informed decision on the branch of engineering to pursue. 

Skills you’ll need as an engineer

Every competent engineer needs the following skills:

  • Problem-solving
  • Creative and critical thinking. 
  • Mastery of relevant software.
  • Resilience and self-discipline.
  • Agility.
  • Management competence
  • Innovation.
  • Leadership skills.
  • Teamwork.
  • Attention to detail.
  • A commitment to ongoing education.
  • Communication skills.
  • Mathematical ability.

What can I study after Foundation in Engineering?

One can choose a range of engineering specialisms after completing a Foundation in Engineering programme. For example:  

  • Civil engineering revolves around infrastructure construction, like roads, bridges, buildings and utilities. It encompasses sub-specialisms like structural engineering and mechanical engineering. 
  • Chemical engineering focuses on understading biological and chemical processes to develop new materials and substances. As a broad and multidisciplinary engineering discipline, it encompasses life sciences, environmental sciences, experimental sciences, and elements of mathematics and economics.
  • Mechanical engineering is the study of mechanical and machine systems. In mechanical engineering are high-level specialisms like aeronautical, automotive, and biomedical engineering. 
  • Electrical and electronic engineering revolves around managing and creating electrical and electronic equipment, interfaces and communications. For the most part, electrical engineers tend to focus on managing larger-scale electrical equipment and power, whilst electronic engineers focus more on smaller electronic devices and electronic circuits. 
  • Computer Engineering amalgamates electronics engineering with computer science. Computer engineers might work with hardware systems, mobile applications, artificial intelligence elements, embedded computer systems and even data architectures. 
  • Robotic engineering enables one to work in the design, research and development and production of automated software and hardware system (robots). In practice, the course exploits elements of computer science, mechanical engineering, electronics and electrical engineering to give students practical experience in robotic programming, repair and maintenance of robotic machinery. 
  • Marine Engineering is a highly specialised sphere of engineering that revolves around the design and development of ships, boats, and underwater craft. It also covers equipment employed at sea, like drilling equipment. 
  • Engineering Management focuses on the business side of engineering. As an emerging engineering discipline, this specialisation prepares you for advanced management roles within the engineering sector. 
  • Nuclear Engineering encompasses the design, construction and maintenance of nuclear power plants. Though related to chemical engineering, during this course, students’ modules revolve around quality control, control engineering, health and safety, and instrumentation. 
  • Petroleum engineering is primarily related to the extraction, management and production of crude oil and petroleum at oil rigs and plants. To qualify as a petroleum engineer, it’s sometimes necessary to already possess a background in chemical engineering.

What is the difference between a Foundation in Engineering and other degree programmes?

A comprehensive Foundation in Engineering programme strongly emphasizes teaching engineering math principles along with introductions to computer languages and programmes. Furthermore, it explores study and research techniques essential for engineering undergraduate-level programmes.

That being said, it is more of an introductory course that lays the foundation for pursuing complete engineering degree programmes.

Where can I study Foundation in Engineering in Malaysia?

You can study Foundation in Engineering at UOW Malaysia. UOW Malaysia adopts state-of-the-art and innovative content and teaching techniques to expand the frontiers of engineering learning.

For the most part, UOW Malaysia’s Foundation in Engineering curricula focuses on practical training, with a well-established balance between theory and experiments during the one-year study. Overall, its course units are designed to cultivate multi-skilled professionals with intellectual and emotional fortitude to excel in engineering. 

How much does a Foundation in Engineering cost? 

This depends on your chosen university. For example, at UOW Malaysia, the Foundation in Engineering course costs approximately RM21,430.

Foundation in Engineering FAQ

Can I switch to a non-engineering degree after completing a Foundation in Engineering? 

You can switch to a non-engineering degree after completing a Foundation in Engineering programme. For most, switching to another science-related degree or a technical course is recommended to get the most value from your foundational course. 

Can I switch universities after completing a Foundation in Engineering? 

Usually, a Foundation in Engineering leads to an engineering degree study within the same university. However, transferring to a different university is typically possible, although you may need to ensure that both universities agree to the transfer terms and requirements.

Is a Foundation in Engineering hard? 

If you have a science background, a Foundation in Engineering programme is manageable. Fundamentally, the course’s modules focus on delivering preparatory engineering subjects to equip prospective engineering students with vital essentials to excel in their future engineering degrees.


UOW Malaysia’s Foundation in Engineering programme is designed to avail students a broader understanding of the fundamentals of engineering whilst delivering a solid grounding in engineering mathematics, physical sciences and programming subjects.

During a foundation year at UOW Malaysia, a student will receive excellent support from their tutors and lecturers and access to a Learning Development Centre and a peer-assisted learning scheme. They shall also get to meet new people and build a network of future engineering peers who will share the same university journey. 

After successfully completing the foundation programme, students can seamlessly proceed to their preferred BEng or MEng engineering degree programmes of choice.


03 March 2023