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Unsung heroes of the Ocean Park
  • <p>“As an engineer, you ought to have mechanical and electrical engineering knowledge, but you also have to keep learning and there’s no stop to that”</p>
  • <p>“As an engineer, you ought to have mechanical and electrical engineering knowledge, but you also have to keep learning and there’s no stop to that”</p>
  • <p>“As an engineer, you ought to have mechanical and electrical engineering knowledge, but you also have to keep learning and there’s no stop to that”</p>
  • <p>“As an engineer, you ought to have mechanical and electrical engineering knowledge, but you also have to keep learning and there’s no stop to that”</p>

“As an engineer, you ought to have mechanical and electrical engineering knowledge, but you also have to keep learning and there’s no stop to that”

Mar 2015

For Hong Kong people, Ocean Park Hong Kong evokes a lot of fond memories – it is a place associated with entertainment, education and conservation. It is not surprising that many young people, IVE Engineering students in particular, dream of working at the city’s oldest theme park. However, being an employee of the Ocean Park may be more challenging than it seems. With over 80 attractions, the Park needs a strong team of mechanics and engineers to inspect the facilities so that visitors can enjoy their time at the park without worrying about their safety.

The engineering department is of crucial importance to the Ocean Park, which is divided into four sub-departments, including Ropeway, Rides Maintenance, Life Support System Engineering, and Facilities Maintenance. Chan Chi-wing, an IVE Engineering graduate of 2013, is now working as a full-time technician responsible for the maintenance of cable cars, a key facility that transports visitors between the downhill and uphill attraction areas. “We can use four verbs to describe the work of cable car maintenance: wash, disassemble, install and inspect,” Mr. Chan explains. “For regular inspections, we need to take parts out one by one, check if they are working properly, clean them and reinstall them. We have to perform these tasks daily to ensure safety.”

Mr. Chan landed this job thanks to IVE’s Industrial Attachment Programme. During his final year of study, he completed a three-month internship at the Ropeway department, under the supervision of Thomas Yip Pui-shing, Cable Car Manager.

According to Mr. Yip, the programme is a telling test to see if one fits the job. “Our work is of a routine and practical nature. We have to work amid different weather conditions. There was once when our colleagues had to work right before the typhoon no. 8 signal was hoisted. All of us were soaked but managed to complete the tasks on the working platform,” Mr. Yip explained. Besides engineering knowledge and good work ethics, the most important criterion for working on the cable car team is, unsurprisingly, not being afraid of heights.

Even though the cable car team’s main responsibilities involve regular maintenance, Mr. Chan was not satisfied with just learning the regulations and procedures during his internship at the Ocean Park. Participants of the IVE Industrial Programme were required to complete a project with their supervisors, and Mr. Chan set his mind to improve the efficiency of the back-up drive system. This project even won the Star Award at Ocean Park.

“The back-up drive system needs to restart quickly to transport cable car passengers to stations if the main drive does not work properly,” Mr. Yip said. To improve the efficiency of the back-up drive system, Mr. Chan cooperated with colleagues at the Cable Car Department and another IVE student to create a new design that can reduce the restart time to within eight minutes. The approval process, which involved two parties, Agudio, the Italian cable car system manufacturer, and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, took around a year. The new back-up drive system will be fully implemented in July. Mr. Chan gained great satisfaction from turning his idea into a real facility which helps serve the Park guests.

Equally lucky is Yuen Siu-hin, another IVE Engineering graduate. He started off as a technician at the Ocean Park ten years ago, and under the encouragement of his supervisors, he pursued further studies to advance his career. Today, he is a maintenance engineer mainly responsible for rides and associated facilities at Marine World.

Since Mr. Yuen is more experienced, his responsibilities no longer only involve handiwork; he is also tasked with communicating with contractors and supervising junior colleagues. “When we identify some problems, we will ask manufacturers to propose solutions and improve the rides,” Mr. Yuen said. “And if less experienced colleagues are unsure of what to do, we will also help them.”

For the most memorable moments at the Park, Mr. Yuen recalled the time when he helped build the amusement rides at Thrill Mountain, which was scheduled to open in 2011 with another colleague. “We were responsible for commissioning tests and learning to operate and repair the rides from manufacturers,” Mr. Yuen said. “We had to digest and pass along all this information to our junior colleagues and train a maintenance team within two years.”

Some IVE Industrial Attachment Programme participants have already joined the rides maintenance department and come under the supervision of Mr. Yuen. Drawing from his own experience, Mr. Yuen stresses the eagerness to learn. “As an engineer, you ought to have mechanical and electrical engineering knowledge, but you also have to keep learning and there’s no stop to that,” Mr. Yuen said.

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