HKU Engineering’s brand new maker space for students: Tam Wing Fan Innovation Wing One of the largest maker spaces in Asia

Practical hands-on and experiential learning activities are indispensable in engineering education nowadays. The Tam Wing Fan Innovation Wing (Innovation Wing) of the Faculty of Engineering at The University of Hong Kong (HKU), a new iconic landmark with one of the largest maker spaces in Hong Kong and in Asia, creates an atmosphere of Creativity, Openness, and Vibrancy to foster interdisciplinary innovations among students and teachers in Engineering and Technology. The project is funded by the University Grants Committee and a generous donation from Mr and Mrs Tam Wing Fan.

The two-storeyed Innovation Wing covers 2,400m2 of floor area which is located on the G/F and LG/F of the Hui Oi Chow Science Building, a strategic and prominent location at HKU, where the University Street connects the original and the new parts of the HKU Main Campus. Situated next to the HKU MTR Station and the buildings of the Faculty of Engineering at the “heart” of the Main Campus, the Innovation Wing will soon be in full operation by Fall 2020. Students and future engineers will have more opportunities to develop and actualise ideas, from the whiteboard to the real world, in this state-of-the-art facility.

Dr. C.K. Chui, Director of Tam Wing Fan Innovation Wing of Faculty of Engineering, explained, “The Tam Wing Fan Innovation Wing will go beyond an iconic landmark with world-class facilities, it will become an enabling platform for Engineering undergraduate students where the seeds of young and creative minds will germinate and thrive.”

Turns idea into reality
As one of the largest maker spaces in Asia, the Innovation Wing is equipped with comprehensive prototyping facilities and equipment for students to turn ideas into reality. The maker space offers a spacious assembling area that can accommodate more than 100 students to work on their projects. Surrounding the assembling area is a number of specialised workshops equipped with state-of-the-art digital controlled facilities such as 3D printing machines, laser cutting and engraving machines, waterjet cutting machine, measuring tools, hand/power toolsets and specialised electronic workbenches, etc. The digital innovation zone offers computer-aid design studio, multimedia and sound-proof studio, AR/VR studio and special project studios for supporting innovation with digital technology.

Inspiring advanced technology workshops
Innovation Wing will also house a number of thematic workshops for advanced technologies and/or research outcomes from pioneering Engineering projects led by Professors and researchers in the Faculty of Engineering. Workshops with themes related to healthcare technology, artificial intelligence and robotics, advanced and new materials, smart technology for better living, green energy and sustainability, and VR technology etc. will be set up in the Innovation Wing. Students may have the chance to get in touch with advanced technology and learn from the Professors who are experts in related areas and apply what they have learnt to tackle grand challenges in the world.

Sparkling environment for disseminating ideas and achievements
The Innovation Wing encourages knowledge exchange and peer learning. Poster hallway, project wall and social media sharing platform will be set up for displaying and sharing of inventions, ideas and achievements. A seminar stage with LED wall is located next to a relaxing brainstorming area, and students can exchange ideas by giving technology talks, showcasing their inventive design, and harnessing timely and constructive feedback by peers, teachers, and the public. The grand event hall in Innovation Wing will be equipped with wide-area motion capture technology that accommodates robotics and AR/VR technology events from different scales.

Professor Christopher Chao, Dean of Engineering at HKU, said, “HKU Faculty of Engineering is one of the founding Faculties of HKU with a long and glorious history, our curriculum and education are always advanced with changes in time. Nowadays, the best engineering schools around the world are all acknowledging the value of nurturing design innovation among our next generation of engineers by establishing innovative facilities. The Innovation Wing will join hands with Engineering teaching departments to actively support student experiential learning activities in order to facilitate students to apply their knowledge and innovation to serve the community.”

With the Innovation Wing in place, the Faculty plans to gear up the education and training for innovation, and the Innovation Academy has recently been established to fulfill this goal. Professor Chao believes that the Innovation Academy will help nurture innovative ideas among students and inspire them to pursue R&D careers that generate positive impacts for society, “Innovation Academy will be a hub for attracting and cultivating a new generation of talents. With a series of events and activities to be organised at the unique infrastructure of the Innovation Wing, we aim to groom talents, especially local students of the University, in interdisiciplinary research.”

Apart from these, the Faculty of Engineering also provides students with global learning opportunities, such as global exchange opportunities to study abroad in prestigious universities, international joint student project/competition, and global internship, etc. First-year students with excellent academic results will be invited to join the Engineering Dean’s Club where members will be awarded ‘Dean’s Award for Engineering Students’ with a total of HK$20,000 and will be personally mentored by the Dean of Engineering.