USEL Program Details

USEL Program Details 

In order to encourage students to develop their own project ideas, the School of Engineering is providing student-driven practicum opportunities to UG students through the Undergraduate Student-initiated Experiential Learning Program. Students may choose to engage in this self-initiated learning experience as a credit bearing project or a non-credit bearing one under the guidance of a faculty member of School of Engineering, while at least one of the team members must be an undergraduate student with an Engineering Major. However, the USEL Program will not support Final Year Project, Final Year Thesis, or any other course-related project. 

Please view the Undergraduate Student-initiated Experiential Learning (USEL) Program for the application procedure, deadlines and requirements of the program.

Download the Application Form for USEL Project. 


Equipment & Tools @USEL Lab 

Students may use the equipment and tools available in the USEL Lab which is located at CYT1002. Users should note that all equipment and tools (except those designated for specific projects) are to be shared by different groups of users working on different projects, and therefore cannot be taken away from the lab. Users are also reminded that some equipment must be operated subject to completion of safety training and staff’s guidance. 

Please refer to the List of Equipment and Tools of USEL Lab


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I don’t have any group mate right now.  Can I submit the proposal first, and add other group mates later on?

“Yes” if you are applying for a non-credit bearing project. But “No” if it is a credit-bearing project since all participating students have to register for the USEL course, and the registration must be completed by the University’s add / drop deadline of that term. 

What’s the difference between credit-bearing and non-credit bearing projects, except that the former gives out credits while the latter does not?

The support provided by the School for these 2 categories of projects is the same. However, for credit-bearing projects, students need to enroll officially in a USEL course during the course registration or add / drop period.  No drop out after the add / drop deadline is allowed as students are expected to be truly committed to the project.  

What if some students in a project want to pursue it as a credit-bearing project while some other participants in the same project just want a non-credit bearing project?

It is possible for a USEL project to be both a credit-bearing and non-credit bearing project at the same time. Students on the same project can choose to take it either as a credit-bearing project OR as a non-credit bearing project, but NOT BOTH at the same time. The 2 groups of students will have to submit a USEL application separately, i.e. an application for a credit-bearing USEL project and an application for a non-credit bearing project. 

If I take the credit-bearing projects, what are the grades that I may receive?

The USEL courses are graded by Pass / Fail only.  

How can the credits I earn from the USEL project courses be used for my graduation?

USEL is currently not a degree requirement of any programs. Therefore, the credits earned from USEL project courses can only be used as free credits to fulfill the 120-credit requirement of 4Y programs.    

How are the credits assigned to a USEL project course?  How many credits can I earn?   Can I take the course more than once?

A credit value ranging from 1 to 3 is designated to a credit-bearing USEL project course. Projects of a greater credit value are expected to require more work from the students. The USEL project courses are offered on a term basis, and can be repeated for credits. At the end of each term, on condition that the project has made good progress and the students’ work is deemed to be satisfactory by the faculty advisor, the credits and a “Pass” grade will be awarded to the participating students. Students can enroll into the USEL courses more than once (be they on the same project or not), but under normal circumstances, students are not expected to earn more than a total of 6 credits from USEL project courses. If students are interested in going on with the project after accumulating 6 credits, they can carry on with them as non-credit bearing USEL projects.   

Can I apply for USEL support with my FYP or FYT?

The USEL Program is not intended to support projects attached to Final Year Projects (FYP) or Final Year Thesis (FYT), or any project required by other courses, be they credit-bearing or non-credit bearing. These projects should be supported by the course offering departments instead of by the USEL Program. 

Can I use the USEL project to fulfill the internship requirement?

No, internship is another co-curricular activity which provides students with an early exposure to industrial experience prior to their graduation. The USEL serves a different educational purpose and thus is not an appropriate substitute for internship. 

Can I participate in USEL project when I am away from HKUST, e.g. during my exchange study abroad?

USEL is an experiential learning program which enables students to learn through hands-on experience. This cannot be achieved when students are physically absent from the University. Therefore, students on exchange will not be admitted to the program. 

What are the current projects?  Any examples?

Please view the List of Approved Projects. New projects are being added continuously as non-credit bearing project applications are received on a rolling basis.  

If some useful findings or innovations are generated from the work of the USEL project, who owns the IP rights of such findings and innovations? 

We encourage students to be creative and innovative. The Intellectual Property rights of all findings and innovations generated from the USEL project will belong to the students who participate in the project. However, the School may request for photos, PowerPoint slides, or video of students’ work for educational and promotional purposes in its publications, websites or other corporate communication channels. The School may also produce photos or video recordings of students’ reports or demonstrations etc., and such productions will belong solely to the School. 

What are the equipment and tools available to my projects?

Please view the List of Equipment and Tools available to users of the USEL lab. All equipment and tools (except those designated for specific projects) are to be shared by different groups of users working on different projects, and therefore cannot be taken away from the lab. Applicants for USEL projects do not need to request for funding to purchase the equipment and tools that are already in the USEL lab. To optimize the use of equipment, users are recommended to reserve them at the USEL Lab prior to the date of use.