Goodness knows how long it has been since I last wrote about US-based National Instruments opening their facility here in Penang (Here's an update: I last wrote about NI on 30 May 2009, which makes it ... 18 months ago. That long, huh?) but it seems that all the anticipation is finally over. NI Malaysia Sdn Bhd held its official opening by Lim Guan Eng today.
Now, I don't have any connection with NI. The only reason why I have some curiosity about NI is because two years ago, I had wandered by chance upon a National Instruments press conference called to announce their investment of USD80 million into their new facilities in Penang.
Already, I was aware then that National Instruments was big - big in the United States and big around the world - but I just didn't realise how big it was. All I knew was that the company develops and manufactures software and hardware products that engineers and scientists use for testing, control and embedded design applications.
So having been intrigued with them, I've been following up on this development whenever I could. Now I'm told that construction work on NI's permanent facility, located on a 17-acre site in Bayan Lepas, will begin by middle of 2011 and scheduled for completion in a year's time. The facility is eventually expected to house some 1,500 staff in manufacturing, R&D, product development, IT and finance. In the meantime, NI will operate temporarily from the Sun Tech Building in Bayan Baru.
There are only 40 employees presently but the company is expected to launch a broad recruimtnent programme for university graduates and experienced industry engineers and technicians. The aim, according to NI CEO Alex Davern, is to boost this number to 300 engineers by two years.