THE Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE) has added the materials division as one of 15 disciplines in which a Hong Kong engineer may take professional qualifications. The new division of HKIE reflects increased diversity in Hong Kong's construction sector with the appearance of newer, hi-tech buildings - particularly those in the Airport Core Programme - requiring specialised engineering knowledge. Dr George Greene - senior lecturer in mechanical engineering at Hong Kong University - represents the mew materials discipline. Dr Greene also serves as vice-president and chairman of Group 1, which is the construction group of disciplines within the HKIE. He teaches a properties and materials course to mechanical, industrial and civil engineering students. He cited Hongkong Bank as the first building in the territory designed with a stated life expectancy of 50 years. Many have followed since. ''The Tsing Ma bridge is being built with a stated life expectancy of 100 years. ''Therefore, material selection, and corrosion protection is very important. ''Generally, in Hong Kong, the atmosphere is becoming more hi-tech orientated, with increasing development in electronics, consumer items, transport, building systems and maintenance standards,'' he said. ''The Hong Kong Government specifies standards that must be used in construction, and you have to be able to show that you obtained the materials from someone who can reliably achieve the standards.'' According to Dr Greene, materials are key elements in quality, reliability and long service life of any project. The skill of the materials' engineer included material selection, material production, the production of a structure or product, installation and commissioning of equipment, operation, and maintenance, Dr Greene said. If problems occurred in materials, the discipline included failure or accident investigation, a field in which Dr Greene consulted as a specialist in ''failure analysis''. ''The service life and maintenance costs of materials are important factors that people are recognising more now with improved quality and higher technology,'' he said. ''There is a greater awareness of the importance of materials now than their was five years ago,'' he said. Newer and materials of a higher standard were being used. One step forward is the inclusion of Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA) in concrete. PFA is a waste product from a coal-fired power station which requires disposal. However, if PFA is used in a properly balanced concrete mix, the cement content can be reduced to achieve the required standards of quality and to save money. PFA has already been used in the Tsing Ma bridge towers and anchorages, much of the MTR system, and numerous other concrete structures in Hong Kong. ''Hong Kong is a modern society. Modern society depends on technology. Technology depends on engineers,'' he said. Dr Greene's consulting work includes the investigation of failures and accidents - cases such as the occasion in Hong Kong when a crane collapsed and the operator and two men working on the site were killed. ''The entire cab and jib of the crane fell off the tower and on to the site below, due to fatigue of a critical component which allowed a crack to form and grow until it was too weak to support the crane,'' said Dr Greene. ''A prompt examination of the crane allowed identification of this weak component and inspection of other cranes of the same model which were found to have cracks in the same location. ''Preventive action was able to be taken to avoid similar failure,'' he said. Dr George Greene may be contacted at the the University of Hong Kong's department of mechanical engineering by telephone on 549-2145 or by fax on 858-5415.