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Japan exchange opportunities
Apr 2013

The benefits of spending time studying abroad are numerous with students able to leverage strong synergies from cross-border exchanges. Mr Jonathan LEE, Head, Department of Engineering Management and Technology, IVE Chai Wan, explains how the Japan National College of Technology (NCT) student exchange programme works and the positive effects it brings for IVE students.

Monozukuri for global engineering

Internationalisation is one of the VTC’s strategic initiatives. The exchange programme with NCT is part of the global learning plans of the Engineering Discipline. LEE, who is in charge of the IVE Engineering Discipline Internationalisation Plan, explained, “There are 51 NCT institutions in Japan providing a wide range of engineering programmes with qualifications equivalent to higher diploma to degree level. The exchange programme with NCT involves short-stay outbound programmes for IVE students to Japan in March, and subsequent in-bound visits to Hong Kong in August from Japanese students.”

The exchange programmes usually last for one week and include a three-day technical schedule as well as a one-day factory visit and one-day sightseeing trip. The aim is to provide students with both technical and cultural experiences that they would not be able to acquire in their home country. LEE reported, “VTC students going to Japan will learn about the Japanese principle of ‘Monozukuri’–the art, science and craft of Japanese manufacturing.” The NCT programme focuses significantly on practical aspects which allow students to gain more hands-on experience with real-life challenges. A further benefit of the exchange programme is that students are able to compare their progress and ideas with overseas students, and obtain a more international view of engineering.

LEE plans to further expand the exchange programme in the future, and commented, “We have planned for three stages of student exchanges. Firstly, the one-week short-stay exchange for inbound and outbound programmes for familiarisation and networking; then a three-month long-stay exchange for industrial-based student projects; and finally future articulation to the degree programme.”

There are also ad hoc staff and student exchange activities planned, including an International Symposium on Technology for Sustainability to be hosted by the Engineering Discipline this November in Hong Kong. This symposium will further facilitate staff and student exchanges with NCT and other overseas academic institutions.

Student sharing

The exchange programme with the NCT in Japan has proven to be a highly positive experience for participating students. Mr Marco CHOW, a HD student in Civil Engineering commented, “The exchange programme provided me with the opportunity to travel to Japan for the first time, and was a life-changing experience. I learnt a great deal about the Japanese culture, the business environment and some of the excellent work practices employed by the Japanese people.”

Ms Iris CHAN and Ms Iris LAU, both are students of the HD in Product Design Engineering, reflected on some of the unique opportunities provided to them whilst onthe exchange, which included eye-opening industrial and cultural tour to a geothermal power plant, a shipyard and even a visit to a volcano.

Mr Kevin KOO, a HD student in Automotive Engineering, visited the Mazda factory which gave him a unique opportunity to learn about the design of a Japanese rotary engine—fundamentally different to traditional petrol engines more commonly studied in Hong Kong. He expressed, “This was an academically enriching experience, helping me gain an insight into the global automotive industry’s best practices.”

Ms Vanessa FONG, a HD student in Electrical Engineering, also shared what she had gained on the programme, “We employed engineering principles gained on the exchange programme to help develop a range of robotic control techniques including attack and defence tactics. Additionally, we visited a Nissan factory and were able to acquire information on various manufacturing processes.”

The student comments highlight what is one of the most important aspects of the overseas exchange experience in providing students with global insights that they would not otherwise be able to gain locally.

Exchange Activities
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Engineering Discipline