2016 promises to be a year of fresh horizons and reflection at the School of Engineering as we look forward to welcoming Prof Tim Kwang Ting Cheng as the new Dean in May and celebrating the University’s 25th anniversary.
Dean Cheng, an international expert in VLSI testing and design verification, will concurrently serve as Chair Professor in the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering and in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. He gained his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and spent five years at AT&T Bell Laboratories ahead of joining the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he has worked for over 20 years.
In my role as Acting Dean since September 2015, I have endeavored to take forward the sterling advances that the School has enjoyed in education, research, and rankings under former Dean Prof Khaled Ben Letaief, now Provost at Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar, and to prepare for Dean Cheng’s arrival.
Having worked for over 30 years in universities in Mainland China, the UK and Hong Kong, my experience in education, research and in leadership roles has included the three different environments – local, national and overseas – in which the School and HKUST needs to consolidate and expand their presence. To address the issues in these equally challenging arenas, I have focused attention on building further strengths and support for the School’s administrative framework to ensure sustainability in the initiatives we have launched and those that are to come.
To maintain and advance the School’s remarkable research record, our academics have worked hard and successfully to secure larger-scale collaborative and theme-based funding to tackle major sustainability issues. Mentoring and workshops for younger faculty members have provided assistance in writing grant proposals to set them on their way. In addition, postgraduate research and taught programs are going to be consolidated under one team in the School, streamlining efficiency and providing more focused support for students.
In education, experiential learning and e-learning have been a focus in line with today’s learners and a modern engineering mindset that needs to be able to create, innovate, solve problems, work in a team and in different cultural settings to most effectively contribute to society. Hong Kong student applications to universities throughout the city are set to dip in line with demographic trends in coming years and the School will be striving to attract top young minds locally, as well as nationally and internationally, through on-going provision of cutting-edge programs that unleash individual potential and provide holistic preparation for success in current times.
The recent initiative in Aerospace Engineering program, the establishment of the HKUST Robotics Institute and HKUST Big Data Institute are indications of the School’s intention to remain at the forefront of evolving trends. Hiring of new faculty will add to our already considerable strength in these three areas. Connections with industry in both research and provision of a pool of graduate talent will strengthen impact.
The year is also special as it marks HKUST’s first quarter century. Among the University’s celebrations of this milestone, the School is organizing a special seminar, featuring leading academics and key technology industry players, together with an alumni dinner in San Francisco on February 13. The major event is one of four being held around the world during this anniversary year, each hosted by a different School. The United States gathering will be an opportunity to look back with pride and look ahead with anticipation. It has been a bold 25 years for the School of Engineering. From this foundation of excellence, we are shaping up to move even higher in the exhilarating times in front of us.
Prof Tongxi Yu
Acting Dean of Engineering