Balancing academic excellence and practice

by Christy Liu

Academic elites offer world-class training at the Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Engineering Management Department, City University of Hong Kong
Photo: Wallace Chan

Pragmatic university strikes the right balance for engineering faculty

A full spectrum of academic programmes is available to prepare students for today's world and the world of tomorrow.

To meet the increasing demand for technical experts in manufacturing and engineering management specialists in Hong Kong and Asia Pacific, City University of Hong Kong (CityU) offers an array of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in manufacturing engineering.

Aside from adapting programme content to reflect real industry needs, the department also works with employers to provide students with internship opportunities, encouraging students to obtain hands-on experience to further boost their career prospects.

According to Stephen Hsu, chair professor and head of the Department of Manufacturing Engineering and Engineering Management at CityU, there is a rapid transformation in manufacturing engineering in recent years. Issues such as product recalls and energy shortage have prompted a decision to upgrade the manufacturing industry from its labour- and energy-intensive status to a value-adding and environmental-friendly position. The employment market for such graduates has been extremely active in the last six months and employers are currently seeking quality people with this kind of training to guarantee health, safety, and environmental compliance in the world marketplace.

"Our department focuses on providing world class training for two types of professionals: technical experts in manufacturing; and highly skilled global engineering managers. We also offer top-notch continuous education experience for managers to polish their management skills and learn the latest in engineering science," Professor Hsu says. "Over the past decade, prompted by the increasing concentration of manufacturing sites in Asia Pacific, the needs for engineering talents and management expertise have grown tremendously."

"This trend of industry upgrade and the emphasis on quality control can be seen historically as the manufacturing base shifted from the US to Japan, Japan to Korea, and Korea to China. As a result, engineering expertise and academic excellence are now playing a vital role in industrial development and economic growth in Asia Pacific and Hong Kong," Professor Hsu notes.

Comprehensive coverage

The department now offers five undergraduate programmes covering manufacturing systems engineering, mechatronic engineering, industrial engineering and engineering management, e-logistics and technology management as well as design and technology. The main aim of these programmes is to educate and equip students with in-depth professional skills and technical expertise to meet the needs of changing industrial and business communities.

K S Chin, an associate professor acknowledges the colossal demand for quality engineers in the manufacturing industry in Hong Kong and China. Responding to this, the department will launch a new comprehensive "total quality engineering" programme in 2009.

Associate professor Lawrence Li notes that the co-operative education programmes in the department are part of the cooperative education centre in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, which provides students with placement opportunities under short-term industrial attachment schemes and year-long co-operative education schemes. "The overall objective is to foster a sense of practicality to complement the theory learnt on campus," Dr Li notes.

As part of the department's global perspective, students can also join an exchange programme to widen international perspectives. Professor Hsu adds, "They can study for one or two semesters at our partner institutions in North America, Europe, Australia or Asia. Eligible students will receive funding to support their international endeavours."

Global players

Regarding faculty structure and teaching capability, Professor Hsu elaborates, "More than 95 per cent of our teaching staff received their final degrees in either the UK or the US. We incorporate a wealth of international expertise and advanced technological knowledge into our programmes. At the moment, we have 32 academic staff and we are actively looking for new talent to join our team of experts."

The academic strength of the faculty at CityU allows the department to run extensive postgraduate and research degree programmes. According to Hongyi Sun, an associate professor and programme leader of the engineering doctoral programme, this unique programme trains managers to fulfil their life-long goals and understand the academic theories behind their success. The CityU engineering doctorate programme currently comprises around 90 senior engineering managers and executives from manufacturing and services companies, R&D firms, consulting firms, educational institutes and governmental organisations.

The part-time doctorate programme aims to develop students' creative thinking and the ability to apply innovative technologies and advanced management techniques. The programme also provides a powerful professional network for entrepreneurship. Dr Sun remarks that several students in the programme are currently running their own high-tech companies since joining the doctorate programme while some have won prestigious awards successively in recent years.

Professor Hsu reveals that the department will continue to maintain a close relationship with employers in order to better understand existing industry needs and anticipate future challenges and trends. "We not only respond to the status quo, we also take future hurdles into consideration when designing our programmes," he concludes.

Engineering change

  • Close links to industry to ensure academic relevance
  • Critical thinking skills honed and polished
  • Engineering Doctorate (EngD) students already establishing own companies

Taken from Career Times 28 March 2008
讚好 CTgoodjobs 專頁,獲取更多求職資訊!

Free Subscription