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New Innovation Wing opened at HKU

Image Credits: HKU, Press Release

A Plaque Unveiling and Opening Ceremony took place on 1 December 2020 at the Tam Wing Fan Innovation Wing to honour the opening of this new iconic landmark of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

Through a generous donation of HK$140 million to the Faculty, the Innovation Wing was developed with the aim to creating an atmosphere of creativity, openness and vibrancy to foster interdisciplinary innovations among students and teachers in Engineering and Technology.

Addressing the guests at the Ceremony, the HKU President stated that the new Innovation Wing will facilitate bold exploration and cross-discipline collaboration among engineering and non-engineering students. Meanwhile, the Dean of Engineering stated that engineering education will not be the same as the establishment of the Tam Wing Fan Innovation Wing.

As part of the HK$ 140 million donation, HK$ 100 million is for setting up the Tam Wing Fan Innovation Wing, and $20 million was also donated to set up the Tam Wing Fan Innovation Wing Two and another HK$0 million for the establishment of the Tam Wing Fan Innovation Fund, in support of the Innovation Academy at the Faculty of Engineering.

State-of-the-art Facilities

The two-storeyed Innovation Wing covers over 2,400 sqm of floor area. Being one of the world-class integrated makerspaces in Hong Kong as well as in Asia, the Innovation Wing is fully equipped with comprehensive prototyping facilities and equipment of all engineering natures under the same roof. The concept of makerspace originated from the US where a group of people with shared interests can gather to work on projects while sharing ideas, equipment and knowledge.

The makerspace offers a spacious assembling area that can accommodate more than 100 students to work on their projects at the same time. Numerous workshops are 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. Students and student interest groups can use the computer-aid design studio, multimedia and soundproof studio, AR/VR studio to turn ideas into reality.

The Innovation Wing encourages knowledge exchange and peer learning. Apart from the poster hallway, project wall and social media sharing platform for displaying and sharing of inventions, ideas and achievements, students can also brainstorm and exchange ideas in a relaxing area. A selection of inspirational books, magazines, journals and user manuals of machines/equipment are placed in the “Dream Chamber” to stimulate creative thinking.

“Thematic Workshops” – Access to Advanced Technology

The Innovation Wing houses “Thematic workshops” where professors can showcase their research outcomes from pioneering Engineering projects. These workshops cover various themes such as healthcare technology, advanced and new materials, smart technology for better living and aviation.

Students will be sparked off with fresh ideas by learning about cutting-edge research in those areas, the Director of Tam Wing Fan Innovation Wing said. The Faculty encourages multidisciplinary collaborations between academics and researchers too. For example, the healthcare workshop is co-hosted by professors from Biomedical Engineering and research experts in Computer Science for further collaborations on new projects.

The Innovation Wing is not only a makerspace but also a place to connect students with advanced technologies. The Faculty has set up a micro-precision 3D printer in the thematic workshop for advanced and new materials. The machine is based on innovative projection micro stereolithography technology which is designed for the production of high resolution, highly precise parts for prototyping and short-run production with photosensitive resins and ceramic.

“Innovation Academy” – Accelerator for inspiration and implementation

The Innovation Wing is far beyond a new infrastructure. It is also an incubator for creativity and innovation. With the funding support from Mrs Tam Wing Fan, the Faculty established an “Innovation Academy” for nurturing future innovators to generate impactful ideas and products.

The Head of Innovation Academy stated that the Academy serves as a magnet to attract new talents to work together on innovative projects through a series of programmes and activities, which are designed to capture three goals: Inspire, Equip and Showcase. The Innovation Academy targets not only engineering students but also selected students from other faculties.

Industrial Consortium

The Innovation Academy will establish an industrial consortium to bootstrap the collaboration and networking with both local and international industries and industrial leaders, through building partnerships among industry, business organisations, governments and academia at the University.

The Associate Dean of Engineering (Innovation), explained that the University and the industry will mutually benefit from the partnership where the industry can gain access to world-class and leading-edge research, whereas academics can obtain industry intelligence for frontier commercial technology. In addition, competitions and programmes will be organised to arouse students’ interest in technology and innovation.

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