Michelle Jia Ying Lee
BEng, Mechanical Engineering (2015)
Graduate Engineer, Cathay Pacific
|Michelle (fourth from right, back row) and the “Inspiration” team.
Photo credit: Airport Authority Hong Kong
I am passionate about aviation and chose to study Mechanical Engineering, as the subject was then the closest to aerospace engineering available in Hong Kong. In my final year, I was one of a team of five undergraduates that came second in a nationwide light sports aircraft design competition organized by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). Our design, “Soaring Dragon”, was a two-seater amphibious aircraft and we had to compete against over 150 teams of master’s and doctoral students.
I also had the opportunity to take part in international competitions such as Airbus Fly Your Ideas and exchange programs to Germany and Beijing, where I attended courses furthering my interest in aerospace. However, it was when I joined a one-year internship at Boeing, Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Aero Engine Services Limited (HAESL) that I truly confirmed my passion for aviation.
As a Graduate Engineer at Cathay Pacific, I am rotating within the Engineering Department to learn what it takes to ensure the safe operation of over 200 aircraft. Working for an airline makes you feel at the heart of the industry, where you get to decide on the aircraft configuration before manufacturing, plan for the right suppliers, ensure compliance, and much more.
My proudest project to date is being part of B-KOO “Inspiration” – the first homebuilt aircraft certified to fly under Hong Kong registration – which successfully took off from Hong Kong International Airport on November 15, 2015. The kit-built RV-8 single-engine aircraft was designed by Van’s Aircraft Inc, and is one of the most popular amateur-built planes.
This project began as one pilot’s dream to build a plane locally and fly it around the globe. Along the way, hundreds of secondary students from St Paul’s Convent School (also my alma mater) became involved in its construction. Currently, the project team of dedicated pilots and engineers (including HKUST alumni!) is preparing for a series of test flights and the round-the-world trip that will start and end in Hong Kong.
I had never been truly motivated until I started working on planes. There is never a dull moment because there is just so much to learn in this field – the perfect example of doing what you love, and loving what you do.