PolyU – Celebrating 80 years of rich heritage

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The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Education, research and service lead the way at PolyU

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 December, 2017, 10:39am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 December, 2017, 10:39am

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The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) celebrates its 80th anniversary with an open day showcasing major achievements in science and innovation plus its commitment to education and serving the community.

On 2 and 3 December 2017, a wide range of activities and exhibitions were held on and off campus to engage the public. Members of the public had the opportunity to visit leading-edge laboratories and learn from respected academics on hand to explain the significance of some of the University’s many scientific achievements.  Workshops and interesting activities were also available to people of all ages.

“We have been moving forward and growing together with Hong Kong for the past 80 years,” says Professor Angelina Yuen, PolyU’s Vice President (Student and Global Affairs). “We would like to take the opportunity to enable the public to better understand the latest development of PolyU, in terms of education, scientific research, campus development and students’ university life.”

The Open Day was kicked off with a ceremony in the afternoon of 2 December 2017 which was graced by the presence of Chairman of the University Grants Committee, Mr Carlson Tong. Alumnus Chan Kin-on, ([email protected] AllStar) performed the song "Shape the Future", which was specially composed for the university’s anniversary.

A signature event of the Open  Day was the “8 x 80 Joy of Cycling” event where more than 400 cyclists, led by PolyU President Professor Timothy W. Tong, and joined by world gold medalist Mr Wong Kam-po, the Event Ambassador cycled around the Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan and Yau Ma Tei districts. The aim was to promote green living and road safety while demonstrating PolyU’s team spirit. On the same day, open-top bus tours took visitors around the district to admire PolyU’s landmark buildings, while guided tours of student halls in Hung Hom Bay and Ho Man Tin gave an insight into modern undergraduate life. 

Enlightening education

In terms of education, PolyU emphasises a global perspective, the concept of “service learning”, and all-round development for its students. In line with this, the Open Day particularly featured five themed zones as part of a “time tunnel” exhibition to reflect aspects of life on campus and international student exchanges, according to Professor Esmond Mok, PolyU’s Dean of Students. “We have integrated a lot of experiential learning opportunities, both locally and abroad, into the curriculum to help students achieve whole-person development and gain a global perspective. A unique aspect is that students need to apply their knowledge learned in the courses when providing services, and they can learn through the process too,” Professor Mok says.

Back in 2012, PolyU pioneered Service-Learning as a mandatory credit-bearing course for undergraduates. By the year 2016/17, a total of 60 Service-Learning courses were provided and the number of students’ service hours reached 150,000. At the exhibition, visitors could see how different faculties and departments had designed courses to use students’ knowledge and expertise to contribute to the broader community in Hong Kong, mainland China and overseas. Also showcased was the Global Youth Leadership Institute, which organises wide-ranging development programmes and other international activities.

“We foster ‘SERVE’ qualities in our students, which encompass social responsibility, excellence, reflection, vision and ethics,” Professor Yuen says. “By doing so, we are nurturing future leaders who are rooted in the community they serve.”

Impactful research

The open day highlighted some of PolyU’s scientific breakthroughs which have been translated into practical applications and had a substantial impact in Hong Kong and overseas. PolyU’s involvement in space exploration is one thing Hong Kong should be proud of.  The Soil Preparation System (SOPSYS) developed by PolyU upon the invitation of the Russian Federal Space Agency for sifting through the soil of Mars’ innermost moon was on display. Another space tool on display was the Sampling Tools for the planet Mars specially designed for the European Space Agency for the purpose of drilling into Mars to acquire earth and Rock samples.

PolyU’s research is also related to our daily lives. It developed a proprietary optical fibre sensing network for railway monitoring. “The new system provides continuous, in-service monitoring of tracks, and thus enhances service reliability through quick identification and rectification of defects. Other than being applied in the local railway system, the technology was exported not only to the Mainland but also to Singapore,” Professor Yuen says.

In addition to the Smart Railway Research Laboratory, PolyU also opened to the public its 3D printing laboratory, Aviation Services Research Centre, and Anechoic Chamber which are all first-of-its-kind in Hong Kong.

Innovation and enterpreneurship

PolyU is committed to foster an innovative and entrepreneurial culture among its students and graduates. Through the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) workshops offered by PolyU-supported start-ups on the Open Day, younger visitors had the chance to transform their own smart phones into a microscope through DIY, using parts easily found in our daily lives. Their interests in Science and Technology would therefore be aroused.

Another workshop offered by a PolyU graduate was designed to introduce basic knowledge in Physics to attendees through learning simple actions in boxing. Participants were encouraged to do the exercise as well.

The two-day event attracted thousands of visitors to the PolyU campus.