This coming September marks five years since I was appointed Dean of the School of Engineering. It is incredible how time flies, and this seems an appropriate time to take stock of what we have achieved and examine the direction we wish to take for the future.
First, let me say that the School is doing extremely well in all key aspects related to our vision of positioning HKUST as a center of excellence for world-class engineering education. To mention major highlights of the past five years: reinvention of the undergraduate curriculum; transition to 334 education system; establishment of the Center for Engineering Education Innovation (E2I); increasing the quantity and quality of exchange-outs and internships; and pushing for more interaction with the outside world through the Center for Global & Community Engagement.
We are continuing to focus on internationalizing the School. Witness our achievements in attracting the best and brightest from around the world through the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme: of the 223 selected for the 2014/15 academic year, 65 came to HKUST – and of these, 42 chose Engineering.
I am extremely pleased that the School continues to shine in prestigious international education-related rankings, or the fact that Engineering at HKUST is proving increasingly popular with local students.
So where do we go from here to maintain – indeed, increase – our momentum?
Alongside consolidation, our strategy is to emphasize three main areas of development: tri-modal education, entrepreneurship, and e-learning/blended learning.
Tri-modal education provides students with a career aspiration track system based on what they want to achieve; whether it is research, professional engineering, or entrepreneurship, we will provide them with the best tools in order to achieve their goal.
We are focusing on expanding our entrepreneurship activities through innovative co-curricular programs. A new minor in entrepreneurship is being launched, while a new MPhil Program in Technology Leadership and Entrepreneurship will be introduced.
We are viewing the seemingly unstoppable e-learning issue from two points of view: first, to offer our own undergraduates the opportunity to view lectures online, which would then be followed up with interactive classroom sessions; and second, to offer MOOC programs to interested students around the world.
Following the reinvention of undergraduate education, we are now seeking to give graduate education a similar treatment. It is particularly vital that we help graduate students to develop non-research skills, such as presentation, writing and ethics. We have also identified three key research themes designed to bring the whole School together, namely autonomous systems and robotics; big data; and smart green cities. Most discoveries are made at the intersection of disciplines, so it is imperative that our work embraces an interdisciplinary approach.
The School will face challenges in achieving these goals, but I believe we can build on excellence and move to the next level through engagement, cooperation and collaboration in order to ensure we work within our research themes and make an impact with major projects on a global scale.
Prof Khaled Ben Letaief
Dean of Engineering