The introduction of the Continuing Education Fund has made it easier for professionals in diverse sectors to add to their formal qualifications, thus advancing their careers and remaining competitive in their chosen areas of specialisation.
An excellent example of the type of course now open to them is the part-time master's programme offered by the Department of Electronic Engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). This course in electronic engineering has been widely recognised for its exceptional academic qualities since its inception almost a decade ago. Now, though, various changes are being made in order to keep pace with developments both in technology and the world of engineering.
According to Tan Lee, assistant professor with the department, the MSc programme was originally designed for working engineers keen to upgrade their professional skills. However, the course is also becoming increasingly popular with recent graduates in the early stages of their careers.
"There appears a thirst for expertise in the area of electronic engineering," says Alex Leung, assistant professor and integrated circuit project (ICP) advisor. "This is due to the spread of electronic products and because the knowledge required for product design cannot be gained solely by experience. It also requires experimentation and the ability to integrate a theoretical approach with practical considerations." He adds that many graduates of the programme have gone on to collaborate on projects with multinationals where they have gained exposure to cutting-edge technologies and received a significant career boost.
The two-year part-time programme is divided into four terms. All students are required to pass a total of eight courses covering three main areas of knowledge: communications, multimedia and IC design. It also possible to specialise in IC design and complete a related project as part of the programme. Besides that, there are supplementary courses ranging from the fundamentals of electronic engineering to industrial management, while a number of electives can also be chosen from courses offered by other CUHK faculties.
"It is a challenging syllabus but, in general, students make great strides during the two years of the programme," says Oliver Choy, a professor in the department. "We offer a number of scholarships for academic excellence and make available some research grants on request." He notes that the department has high-quality facilities and 18 professors from different parts of the world.
"We believe that, to compete effectively as professionals, students must have expertise in a diversified range of subjects," says Professor Choy.
Applicants for the MSc should have a bachelor's degree in electronic, electrical, computer or information engineering. Graduates in other fields such as applied physics or mechanical engineering will also be considered provided they have relevant experience in electronic engineering.