Dean's Message
Fall 2015 No.27
Ms & Mr Young Engineers
Postgraduate studies at the School of Engineering are designed to widen horizons. Three Master of Science participants explain how they gained fresh perspectives
Tracy Jingyan Zhou
MSc, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (2014)
Taking my postgraduate degree at HKUST was the best investment I have made. Programs are well-designed and include the latest discoveries as well as practical applications for industry.
There are also countless extra-curricular opportunities. In my case, I was nominated by SENG to attend a nine-day winter camp at Peking University. I was then selected to attend the 5th Annual Womensphere Emerging Leaders Global Summit at Columbia University, which brought together women leaders across industries, disciplines, and generations to share their experiences and stories. The trip was really eye-opening as I was also able to visit the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street and Metropolitan Museum of Art. In June 2014, I joined the “Light on Dreams” service and learning trip, organized by HKUST Connect, a community engagement initiative. I spent a week in Mabian, Sichuan Province, teaching pupils in a rural area and finding out more about the Yi minority group. All of these experiences made my student life colorful and unforgettable.
Building strong industry connections was another benefit. From the alumni-sharing sessions and optional career development course (a big thank you to instructor Ms Keiko Shinohara here!), I met alumnus Mr Michael Leung, Sales Director of Hilti (Hong Kong) Ltd. From his sharing, I got to know Hilti, a construction product and solution supplier. I liked the sound of its caring culture and core values so I applied and, after several rounds of interviews, received an offer ahead of graduation to join its global management development program as an Outperformer Trainee. Since then, I have rotated round different areas of the business in various corporate regional markets. I have worked as a sales representative and in the finance department. Currently, I am in Australia in the marketing department on a regional assignment. Later this year, I will start my international project in Europe.
My suggestion for anyone joining an MSc program at the School of Engineering is: be proactive. Make the most of the numerous opportunities in academia and industry inside and outside campus. Also take part in the activities you are interested in trying. This way you can fruitfully enjoy the all-round student experience available at HKUST.
Anand Sreeram
MSc, Environmental Engineering and Management (2016)
2015 Research Intern, Instituto Nacional Del Carbon, Oviedo, Spain
I first attended HKUST as a chemical engineering undergraduate in 2010. I then worked for one year and decided to return to the School of Engineering to pursue further studies in environmental engineering and management.
Studying engineering is a natural choice for me as I have always been fascinated by science and competent at mathematics. I am particularly drawn to environmental engineering as there is an urgent need to develop strategies and technologies to create sustainable interaction between the natural environment and the technical domain. From a research perspective, I am particularly interested in environmental applications for waste materials, such as wastewater treatment and pollution abatement.
During my master’s, I have had the opportunity to join the first cohort of HKUST students undertaking an internship of up to six months with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), one of the largest public institutions dedicated to research in Europe. The project I worked on at the Instituto Nacional Del Carbon looked at incorporating adsorbents/ semiconductor composites into traditional cement powder for environmental applications.
It was a very special experience to go to Spain. I was based in Oviedo, a small city in the north, and the time I spent at the Institute proved a tremendous learning experience. I not only worked in a world-class research team with eminent scientists at the forefront of their respective fields, but very importantly I was also able to step out of my comfort zone and live and work in a country where English was not the main language. Spain is a diverse place and I thoroughly enjoyed living there and traveling around to different areas at weekends and other holidays. The internship also provided good insight into what a research career or PhD program would be like, which was really useful experience to gain as a master’s student. 
I am sure many more students will benefit from this great opportunity in future years. I am now looking forward to graduating and actively considering applying for a PhD program.
Praveen Balaj Balakrishnan
MSc, Mechanical Engineering (2014)
Stamping Feasibility Engineer, Ford India
Having been an automobile enthusiast from a young age and a person fascinated by how machines work and are designed, it wasn’t a difficult choice to pick Mechanical Engineering when I went to Anna University in India for my undergraduate studies. My four years of undergraduate education opened up new technologies and gave me fresh insight into the world of cars. For my final year project, I also designed and built a robot that could clean up beaches. This interest in machines then became a passion and I joined Chrysler after graduation as a design and analysis engineer. After working for two years, I decided to take a break and go back to studying to learn about different trends as my field is one involving the latest knowledge, technologies and applications. I applied to many leading universities around the world, with HKUST one of my top choices because of its world-class research facilities and student diversity.
As a participant of the Ford-HKUST Conservation and Environmental Research Grants program, I had to create an alternative air-conditioning system powered by waste exhaust heat from the engine to replace the conventional system in cars and trucks. Being part of this project helped me understand my own strengths and weaknesses. It also gave me wider exposure to the industry as I got to meet Ford’s Chief Executive Officer and other senior executives. Following graduation, I accepted an offer from Ford India to become a Stamping Feasibility Engineer. I am currently responsible for developing the Asia Pacific team. In this role, I have had the opportunity to travel to Ford’s corporate headquarters in the US to receive training, meet other colleagues and learn from them. I feel the organization has a wonderful work culture, and I am looking forward to building my career at the company.
The Ford-HKUST research grant opening has had a major impact on my life and I hope it can continue to nurture more young engineers at HKUST and help them to spread their wings and pursue their dreams.