Hong Kong's tertiary education will enter a new era with the introduction of 4-year curriculum in 2012. HKUST's School of Engineering (SENG) will be completely revamping the curriculum in order to produce 21st century engineers who are not only technology savvy but equipped with the skill set to become literate, flexible global citizens with an international outlook. In view of this, SENG launched the "Community Services Project" in 2009, a credit bearing co-curriculum course for undergraduates that aims at fostering students' community spirit through engaging them in social services projects.
Combining technology training and community service
Jointly organized by SENG and the Lions Club of Metropolitan Hong Kong (Metro Lions), the sponsor of the project, the course saw the first intake of 20 SENG students who brought a brand new digital ink art computer software, MoXi, to two groups of service recipients — pre-school children at TWGHs Lions Club of Metropolitan Hong Kong Kindergarten and the elderlies at the Po Leung Kuk Lau Chan Siu Po District Elderly Community Centre.
With Members of the Metro Lions and their junior counterparts, Metro Leos, serving as the students' mentors, our SENG students ran lessons on digtial ink drawing for the elderies and children who enjoyed their lessons tremendously, and were amazed at the versatility and user-friendliness of the software. The elderlies also picked up basic computer and Internet skills from our students.
Acquiring soft skills
Apart from acquiring practical experience, students learnt how to design, plan, implement and evaluate a social service project. During the course, they also received training in leadership, event management, communication and presentation skills.
Course speakers included Timothy Ma Kam-wah, Executive Director of the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association, Dr Stephen Chow, SBS, BBS, JP, philanthropist and Chairman of 5 high-tech electronic components enterprises, and Herman Hu Shao-ming, JP, Chairman of Ryoden Development Ltd. Mr Hu, JP, is an engineering graduate and holds key position in 16 associations.
Cultural exchange by serving the community
As the group comprised local and overseas undergraduate students of all levels, Associate Dean of Engineering-UG studies Professor Charles Ng who initiated and spearheaded the program, says, "This course focuses on nurturing socially responsible citizenship. With students of different nationalities in one setting, the course also enjoyed an unintended benefit of fostering cultural exchanges among participating students."
A participant Sadique Mohamed Salih, a year 2 engineering student from Sri Lanka, relates his learning experience, "It was depressing to learn that shanty towns and metal sheet houses still exist in Hong Kong and that a lot of local people are still wrestling with poverty. I fully appreciate the opportunity to allow me to reach out and be of service to the people in Hong Kong."
Mr Fred To, former President of Metro Lions, tells that the group is committed to developing, improving and promoting education in Hong Kong. He hopes SENG’s Community Services Project will encourage engineering students to be in touch with the communities around us and provide services for those in needs.
What is MoXi?
MoXi is developed by a HKUST doctorate graduate, Nelson Chu Siu-hang. This award-winning technology is a digital ink art computer software that allows users to produce Chinese ink paintings and calligraphy on computer screens. In 2008, this technology was used by the Beijing Olympic Games as a tool to enhance specific visual effects in the Opening Ceremony.