The School has added considerably to its global presence in recent months. We have been delighted to see the hard work and comprehensive strength of our departments recognized through our high global rankings in individual subjects in engineering and technology fields. We have also expanded our research and development capabilities, with the significant addition of the HKUST-NIE Social Media Lab, which will enable us to lead the way in exploring people's future interaction with communication and information technology and is the first of its kind in Asia.
Our world-class standing is set to be further reinforced through the revitalization of our undergraduate curriculum as Hong Kong moves to a four-year degree system in Fall 2012. We expect our pioneering approach to usher in a fresh and exciting era of engineering education in Hong Kong and beyond.
In developing our approach, we have sought to embrace the complete student experience. While we have focused great attention on the design and provision of new academic courses, we have also recognized the critical importance of support and wider development opportunities for a person to achieve their potential.
One key example is the additional academic advisory support we have been busy putting into place.
The introduction of 334 brings much greater flexibility for students to choose the courses they take to obtain their degree. It is essential that students receive solid assistance in this area. However, our cutting-edge advisory system will encompass much more. Our aim is to help undergraduates make a smooth transition from school to the University, from their first-year introductory studies to their major program, and eventually from the University to their careers.
Our four main areas of focus are academic, social, personal-emotional, and institutional attachment, which together should provide the critical, all-round support to create a truly transformative learning experience at the School. We want to help students to choose programs that best fit their interests and aspirations, and to enable them to set and attain academic, personal and career goals.
As an illustration of our innovative support system, we have decided to divide our first-year engineers into "clans". There will be nine in total. Each comprises a clan fellow, a clan chief, and school-level advisors, all of whom are faculty members. Student peer mentors and a professional advisor are also included in every clan.
Along with the expansion of our internal support systems, we are also keen to offer our students more opportunities to learn about life outside the campus and to use their knowledge to assist others.
Through our Global and Community Engagement Program, students can gain a broader perspective on their studies and how they can apply their skills to solve challenging issues facing different people in Hong Kong and the world at large. In this issue of In Focus, we highlight several ways in which students have already been contributing their engineering knowledge in this way. In addition, the program encourages engagement at the international level, providing exposure to professional activities and peers outside Hong Kong.
We are also strengthening internship and industrial engagement to ensure a mutually beneficial experience for employers and students. Companies can learn at first-hand about our dynamic young engineers and students gain hands-on experience and familiarity with working practices. This should provide confidence and a competitive edge when undertaking a job search, and in the transition to the workplace – helping to realize another of the goals of our advisory support system.
In addition to our undergraduate initiatives, we are moving forward in the education experience we provide for our postgraduates. We already attract some of the brightest minds from around the world to our research programs and have been making strong efforts to internationalize further. We are also seeking to broaden and deepen the range of learning activities our postgraduates enjoy through studying at the School. Along with working together with our top faculty on leading research projects, we have been building more opportunities for research exchanges, communication and presentation skills training, and career planning.
As we continue to add to our many high-achieving activities and our far-sighted education at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, I look forward to the School making further pioneering contributions to the engineering community and the world at large, now and for the generations ahead.
Prof Khaled Ben Letaief
Dean of Engineering