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Engineering know-how creates a new career chapter
  • <p>“Being an engineer is very satisfying—witnessing the evolution of a project from a basic drawing to a finished product is highly gratifying.”</p>
  • <p>“Being an engineer is very satisfying—witnessing the evolution of a project from a basic drawing to a finished product is highly gratifying.”</p>
  • <p>“Being an engineer is very satisfying—witnessing the evolution of a project from a basic drawing to a finished product is highly gratifying.”</p>

“Being an engineer is very satisfying—witnessing the evolution of a project from a basic drawing to a finished product is highly gratifying.”

Dec 2016

Engineering projects have long helped facilitate Hong Kong’s development. Yuen Man-ho, a graduate from IVE’s Building Service Engineering Programme, has played an important role in one of the local biggest rail projects: the Shatin-Central Link. Man-ho was part of the team responsible for constructing air-conditioning systems at Diamond Hill Station—a role that demands significant professional knowledge.

Upon completion of Form five, Man-ho came across an intriguing IVE article: stating that employment opportunities were 95% or higher after someone had graduated. Inspired by the potential of huge infrastructure projects across Hong Kong, he made the brave decision to go into engineering. He explained, “The higher diploma programme ignited my interest in engineering. The classes were practical and proved extremely useful when I decided to join the building service engineering industry.”

After completing his high diploma, Man-ho furthered his BSE education in the UK at Northumbria University. He recalls, “After graduation from IVE, I had a strong understanding of all the theories in the field, enabling me to learn about local building practices, which helped me tackle problems creatively.”

Man-ho was appointed Assistant Engineer with Gammon shortly after returning to Hong Kong. He soon became involved with the Ko Shan Theatre expansion project amongst others. He noted, “My boss assigned me with a variety of tasks—I was responsible for the logistics of prefabricated parts that were imported from mainland China for a number of mega-projects involving electrical engineering work.” Two-and-a-half years later, after accumulating enough experience to work independently, he was transferred to the MTR worksite at Diamond Hill. He described the joy he feels upon any project completion, “Being an engineer is very satisfying—witnessing the evolution of a project from a basic drawing to a finished product is highly gratifying.”

Engineering projects are concomitant with challenging deadlines and the slightest mistakes can prove extremely costly. Well-prepared engineering professionals are therefore vital in ensuring projects run smoothly. Man-ho’s daily challenges fall into three main categories—accuracy, communications and problem-solving and he acknowledges that developing something from scratch is a significant challenge. He offered, “We have to go through each detail of the design each step of the way from manufacturing to the worksite, accuracy is something you don’t compromise on”.

Engineers never work alone and Man-ho emphasized the importance of effective communication, “The clarity of communication makes a huge difference to whether a task succeeds or fails.” Man-ho also needs to generate ad hoc strategies to avoid delays in the construction process, as the ability to react and adapt to problems is crucial. He explained, “Site workers are waiting for your direction, if we don’t react fast, it will turn a small lapse into a serious delay, wasting time and money.”

Man-ho’s initial perception—that duties associated with working in this field would be akin to that of a handyman—soon disappeared and he was astounded at the scale of certain projects. He cited the MTR as an example, “An MTR station’s electrical engineering work is complex and the engineering systems have to operate for 40-50 years, so everything must  be well organised to last over time.”

A new period of growth in Hong Kong’s large-scale construction projects, combined with experienced engineers in the industry approaching retirement age, has created an urgent need for fresh talent. As more opportunities become apparent, Man-Ho offered sound advice for young graduates aspiring to be Building Service Engineers (BSEs). He shared, “Things do not always go according to plan, so it’s essential that BSEs have a cool disposition for problem solving. Your working attitude also shapes your name in this field.”

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