Earlier this year, the BSc in Chemistry program was selected as a sample undergraduate program of the HKUST to undergo audit by the Quality Assurance Council (QAC) of the University Grants Committee (UGC).
Prof Guochen Jia (Head of the Chemistry Department) and Prof Lam-lung Yeung (the Undergraduate Coordinator of the Department), shared with us the specialties of the program.
"We aim to provide students with an excellent general training in analytical thinking and problem solving through a carefully designed curriculum,” said Prof Jia. He told us the BSc in Chemistry curriculum has the following major characteristics –
- Flexible credit-based system allows credit transfer from other institutions and earlier graduation (2.5 years)
- Basic training in four major chemistry areas - analytical, inorganic, physical and organic chemistry
- Training conducted at modern and innovative interdisciplinary laboratory
- Provision of advanced chemistry elective courses in biomedical, environmental and nano/materials
- Content-rich program covering business, engineering, social sciences and humanities, languages and mathematics
"The University also provides various enrichment programs and activities like undergraduate research, internships and exchange opportunities for students,” added Prof Yeung. Students may enroll in a credit-bearing undergraduate research project series as early as the summer of Year One. This provides an opportunity for students to work on individually-assigned research projects with faculty members. Summer internships are available at testing laboratories for students to practise what they have learned.
"Our all-round training prepares students for their future career in chemical science, education, technology, chemistry-related business and the commodity markets. They may also pursue graduate research after UG study,” Prof Jia said.
The Department is always ﬂexible and responsive to students’ needs. "We take our students and other stakeholders’ views seriously”, said Prof Jia. Students, alumni and external advisors are consulted on program initiatives. The Department is also ﬂexible in terms of course offerings. For instance, the Molecular Characterization Laboratory course (originally only offered in Fall/Spring semesters) is available for the summer session at the request of students.
There are various channels in place to facilitate faculty-student communication. The Student-Staff Liaison Committee holds regular meetings where faculty members and students of the School/Department discuss matters of mutual concerns. Each Chemistry student is assigned a faculty member as advisor on academic and non-academic issues.
As the Department’s Undergraduate Coordinator and also students’ advisor, Prof Yeung admits that the job is no easy task. But he enjoys what he is doing and somehow he feels like a "father” of the students.
Prof Jia thinks the society is expecting more from university students nowadays. A chemistry graduate not only needs to have specialized knowledge, he/she must possess various generic skills. Hence, the Department is constantly enhancing their chemistry curriculum to provide students with all-round training.