In Focus - Issue 29 (Spring 2018)

HKUST ENGINEERING SPRING 2018 ISSUE 29 e-fuel The Future of Sustainable Energy?

CONTENTS SPRING 2018 I NO.29 HKUST Engineering In Focus Magazine (852) 2358 5917 Published by: Communications and External Affairs School of Engineering The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Editors: Diana Liu, Dorothy Yip Contributing Editor: Sally Course Designer: Kingsley Lau hkustengineering hkustengineering France-HKUST Innovation Hub Forging closer ties with French industry 5 6 Fueling change Pioneering an electrically rechargeable liquid fuel and energy storage system 16 All the right connections Electronic and computer engineer's inspirational campus home 10 The single-cell detective Bioengineering techniques that pro le individual cells with greater accuracy 20 Di erent ways to make a di erence Three students and their community endeavors 18 Speeding toward a driverless future Robotics researchers develop novel autonomous vehicle control system 30 Sweet smell of success Alumni connections foster graduate start-up

W A world-changing impact elcome to the new-look In Focus, which is evolving in content and design in line with the School of Engineering’s own advances. As reported in this edition, we have initiated major developments in the School in past months. These signi cant changes have seen the realignment of departments and divisions to ensure our engineering education and research remain at the forefront globally. The moves have embraced exciting emerging elds: integrative systems and design; decision analytics; and biological engineering. All will have key roles to play, regionally and beyond, and this Fall we will be launching four undergraduate majors in these and other timely areas to foster the talent pool required. Among them is Hong Kong’s rst practicum-led, project-driven bachelor program, deployed with new pedagogical approaches, which seeks to train the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. The School aspires not only to be an international leader in the academic arena but also to make a world-changing impact on society. As a relatively compact quality engineering school in terms of numbers, strategic focus is a must. But with core strengths in pivotal drivers, such as robotics and autonomous systems, arti cial intelligence and big data, smart cities, and energy, we are well positioned to enhance our footprint globally. To do so, we expect to foster more alumni-built or faculty-enabled high-impact companies such as DJI, now the global market leader in easy-to-use consumer drones. We will be continuing our active co-operation with industry and engagement with the community, as well as expanding our presence through joint collaborations and strategic partnerships. We will be growing our faculty team by about % in the next two to three years. And are committed to gender and multicultural diversity, and a multidisciplinary mindset, among faculty and students. Already, I am happy to report, our assistant professor team of young rising stars is % female. Such concrete steps, along with more physical experimental areas for faculty and shared space for students from di erent disciplines to engage in discussions, will provide an environment that naturally lends itself to innovation, developing a robust culture for the long term. It all indicates an exhilarating future and I hope you will share it with us. Read on to nd out more! Prof Tim Kwang Ting Cheng Dean of Engineering 01 IN FOCUS Dean’s View

Prof Wei Shyy, Executive Vice-President and Provost, and Chair Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has been appointed HKUST’s next President. He will take o ce on September , , succeeding Prof Tony F Chan. Prof Shyy joined HKUST in from the University of Michigan in the US, where he was Clarence L “Kelly” Johnson Collegiate Professor and the Department Chair of Aerospace Engineering. At HKUST, he has been a keen advocate for broadening the University’s educational scope and advancing research and knowledge transfer. As President, his job would be to help colleagues and students to ful l the University’s goals and mission so that HKUST can “truly become a globally leading higher learning institution”, he said. Prof Shyy is currently serving as Acting President. Born and raised in Taiwan, Prof Shyy received his BS degree from Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, and his master’s and doctoral degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). He is also a winner of the AIAA Pendray Aerospace Literature Award, among other major honors. Research interests include computational fluid dynamics, energy and power, heat/mass transfer, and biological and micro air vehicles. In line with Prof Shyy’s focus on aerospace engineering, he is also a keen bird photographer. HKUST researchers have created a new weapon in the ght against the deadly Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERSCov), and influenza H N and H N , with the development of an air puri cation system that removes close to % of airborne bacteria and viruses. The technology is now available as a household puri er on the retail market. The air puri cation system was shown in tests to be e ective in eliminating nearly % of MERS-Cov, . % of H N , over % of H N , and % of EV , a cause of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, as well as other bacteria. The technology comprises a multi-level antimicrobial lter covered in a microcapsule emulsion containing a biocide. As air passes through the lter, the biocide destroys airborne micro-organisms, the anti-adhesion coating stops germs sticking on to the lter’s surface preventing the growth of micro-organisms, and slow, continuous release of disinfectants helps sterilize bacteria. The research was led by Prof King Lun Yeung, Associate Dean of Engineering (Research and Graduate Studies), together with Prof Joseph Kwan, Director of HKUST’s Health, Safety and Environment O ce. Leading the way at HKUST Innovative weapon in ght against flu Clearing the air: Prof Joseph Kwan (left) holding bacterial samples and Prof King Lun Yeung with HKUST’s antimicrobial-coated air lter. President-designate and Acting President Prof Wei Shyy. 02 IN FOCUS In the News

A top Civil and Environmental Engineering academic has become the rst from Greater China to be elected President of the International Society for Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE), the leading professional body for geotechnical engineers, academics and contractors globally. CLP Holdings Professor of Sustainability Prof Charles W W Ng, Chair Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and HKUST Associate Vice-President for Research and Graduate Studies, is a world authority on unsaturated soil mechanics, slope stability and sustainability. He has served on the ISSMGE board since in a range of roles. “As president, I am setting my sights on education, innovation and diversity,” Prof Ng said. His term will run until . Prof Ng is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), American Society of Civil Engineers, Hong Kong Institution of Engineers and Hong Kong Academy of Engineering Sciences. His many awards include China’s State Scienti c and Technological Progress Award (Second Class) in , ICE’s Telford Premium Award in , and the Prix R M Quigley Award from the Canadian Geotechnical Society three times, in , and . The School of Engineering (SENG) has responded to today’s rapidly evolving engineering landscape with a trio of far-sighted moves to embrace emerging elds in both its teaching and research. The Division of Integrative Systems and Design (ISD, 綜合 系統與設計學部), established in November , aims to provide di erentiated learning opportunities for students and develop their competencies in integrative systems design, design thinking and entrepreneurship. In a pioneering engineering education initiative, the Division will o er an undergraduate major in , fusing systems and design through a practicum-led and learner-centric curriculum. The program will equip students with design fundamentals, internship experience, and use large-scale industry-supported capstones as teaching vehicles to prepare them for real-world multidisciplinary innovation of the future. The Division of Biomedical Engineering, previously under the Interdisciplinary Programs O ce, and SENG’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering have merged to become the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE, 化學及生物工程學系), hosted by SENG. The merged department will seek to develop a new interdisciplinary undergraduate bioengineering program as well as consolidate existing ones. The Department of Industrial Engineering and Logistics Management has been renamed the Department of Industrial Engineering and Decision Analytics (IEDA, 工業工程及決策分析學系) to reflect a greater emphasis on predictive and prescriptive analytics, which are expected to play an increasingly signi cant role in the st century. Dean of Engineering Prof Tim Kwang Ting Cheng said the di erent adjustments would all help to align students’ aspirations with changing societal needs and employment opportunities. First Chinese president of international soil society Designs on the future 03 IN FOCUS Incoming President of ISSMGE Prof Charles W W Ng introduced by outgoing President Prof Roger Frank (France). IEDA ISD CBE

HKUST students’ world-beating “Beluga” remotely operated underwater vehicle had the bene t of input from multicultural team members from 10 different parts of the globe. Creating waves Novel bathing chair for elderly 04 IN FOCUS With the growing challenge of aging populations globally, an innovative “Sit & Shower” chair, speci cally designed to enable seniors to bathe safely, comfortably, and more independently, has been designed and brought to market by Prof Neville Lee, Associate Professor Emeritus, Industrial Engineering and Decision Analytics, and departmental alumni Albert Chan and Jacky Chow, MPhil. The cost-e ective, fully automated bathing chair is equipped with dual shower and toileting functions. An open design makes it easy to get in and out, with angled water jets to avoid splashing and an internal thermometer to ensure the water never gets too hot. In designing the chair, the team carried out extensive research with social workers and frontline caregivers. It can be installed in most bathrooms without modi cation or removing existing ttings and enables elderly people to retain independence in the highly private activity of bathing, Prof Lee said. In addition, the novel shower can save carers’ time by allowing a senior to bathe on their own. More details are available at Advancing AI and cybersecurity Two new laboratories are keeping HKUST at the cutting edge of the computer eld. Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding in December , a joint lab on arti cial intelligence (AI) and computer vision is to be established by HKUST and Megvii, a Beijing-based pioneer in computer vision and deep learning, commonly known as Face++. The lab, led by Prof Long Quan, Computer Science and Engineering, will look into research on AI, computer vision, D reconstruction, and image analysis, recognition and understanding. In addition, Hong Kong’s rst major university Cybersecurity Laboratory, dedicated to research into online security, has been established at HKUST. The lab, directed by Prof Charles Zhang, Computer Science and Engineering, will develop a wide range of methods and tools to ght cyber threats and explore security, privacy, and cryptography issues. The HKUST Robotics Team made an international splash when members of its Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) sub-team became the rst Asian contestant to win the world championship of the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) International ROV Competition (see also P ). The team became Hong Kong’s representative in the global competition in Long Beach, California, a er winning the regional contest. The inaugural MATE International ROV Competition was held in , with HKUST participating for the rst time in . The theme selected for the contest was “Port Cities of the Future” and how to ensure their safety. Contestants had to complete tasks on hyperloop construction, light and water show maintenance, environmental clean-up and risk mitigation underwater within minutes as well as prepare promotional materials, technical and safety reports, and a presentation on their ideas. The HKUST ROV team, comprising engineering undergraduates from di erent disciplines and backgrounds, had to compete against more than other regional contest winners to take the title. Overall, the HKUST Robotics Team received nine accolades in di erent competitions in , including winning the annual Robocon Hong Kong Contest for the eighth time. In the News Designed to help seniors shower independently.

05 IN FOCUS C’est une très bonne idée! France-HKUST Innovation Hub to spark closer ties with French industry n an international partnership initiative to build technological research and entrepreneurship across borders, HKUST and the Consulate General of France in Hong Kong & Macau have joined together to form the France-HKUST Innovation Hub. The hub seeks to provide a one-stop platform to encourage ties between French and Hong Kong partners in education, science, technology and entrepreneurship, serving initially as an incubator of ideas and opportunities; and in the longer term as a catalyst for research and development projects within HKUST. The move builds on earlier successful projects between French companies and the University, including smart city research together with Thales, a major French aerospace and transportation company, and a collaboration between Schneider Electric, a French energy management and automation specialist with global reach, and the HKUST-MIT Research Alliance Consortium. Leaders from both the University and Consulate were delighted by the development. HKUST President Prof Tony F Chan described the hub as “a great platform for both sides to collaborate and spur innovation and technology development in tandem with many French industries”. For Consul General Mr Eric Berti, the prospect of matching the talent of HKUST students with the experience and business culture of French industry to develop innovation, science and technology would be “very exciting”. As an indication of the signi cance of the new center, Prof Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the European Research Council, delivered the inaugural lecture at HKUST. His talk focused on “When Fundamental Discoveries Meet Daily Life”. The School of Engineering later invited Prof Laurent Boutillon, Scienti c Director of Vinci Construction Grands Projets, to give a presentation on “Chernobyl’s New Sarcophagus”. This recent company project provided a pioneering con nement shelter to assist site clean-up at the Ukrainian nuclear power plant, which su ered a catastrophic explosion in . In October , an executive delegation from Orange, a major French telecoms company, visited HKUST Robotics Institute and introduced the company’s innovation strategy. A quarterly hub newsletter has also been launched. I Strengthening links: Dean of Engineering Tim Kwang Ting Cheng (left), President Tony F Chan (center) and French Consul General Eric Berti (right) launch the enterprising joint technological research initiative.

06 IN FOCUS heong Ying Chan Professor of Engineering and Environment Prof Tianshou Zhao is well suited to the mission of pioneering alternative energy research. His own stored reserves of vim and vigor are seemingly inexhaustible as he powers on through each day, determined to realize his dream of one day ushering in a self-sustaining net zero energy community, with Hong Kong leading the way. Such drive has seen Prof Zhao, Chair Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Director of the HKUST Energy Institute, receive HK$ million funding from the Hong Kong Research Grants Council to lead a ve-year theme-based research project to develop a remarkable e-fuel storage system. C Cover Story Fueling change A sustainable net zero community is the lifetime goal of Prof Tianshou Zhao, and his ground-breaking e-fuel energy storage system is set to power this quest forward

Currently, energy sources such as wind and solar contribute less than % of the global total. Among the greatest challenges to wider adoption is the intermittency problem – “the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine” Prof Zhao noted – and their site speci c needs making storage and transport key issues. The project’s target is to provide an electricity- fuel-electricity conversion system with e ciencies reaching over %. Other bene ts include electricity generated by e-fuel cells that can be integrated into the grid; an e-fuel storage system that can simultaneously store and release electricity forming a renewable power supply for o -grid communities; and possible use in next-generation vehicles, providing a refueling time close to gasoline. A demonstration site on the HKUST campus that will power the University’s own Energy Institute laboratory is also planned. Renewable record-setter Prof Zhao has already spent the past years at HKUST making pioneering contributions to renewable energy storage devices, ranging from direct alcohol fuel cells to flow batteries and lithium-air batteries in a bid to boost solutions to air pollution and climate change caused by fossil fuels. What makes his research insights so special is his innovative interdisciplinary combination of electrochemistry and thermal-fluid science and his focus on energy storage to drive breakthroughs in theory and applications that can increase the use of renewables. Charging ahead The collaborative project is focused on electrically rechargeable liquid fuel (e-fuel), which will be designed by Prof Zhao and his researchers, an e-fuel charger and e-power pack. When still at the proposal stage, it was regarded as too amazing to be feasible. But following preliminary research to further establish the potential of the concept, the funding was forthcoming. Researchers from Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Hong Kong, and Hong Kong Polytechnic University will also be involved. “This is our brand-new concept: electrically rechargeable liquid fuel that is cost-e ective, e cient and high energy. It will be like gasoline but instead of being a fossil fuel it will be renewable and environmentally benign” “The e-fuel charger will electrochemically convert electricity into e-fuels, which can then be converted back into electricity for end use through using an e-fuel cell,” Prof Zhao said. “Wind and solar power can be converted to e-fuels and the e-fuels stored or transported to where they are needed without losing any quality.” A revolutionary concept: e-fuel storage E-fuel storage can make renewable energy accessible wherever and whenever needed. 07 IN FOCUS e-fuel power pack e-fuel - electrically rechargeable liquid fuel e-fuel charger

Achievements have included successfully revealing the underlying mechanism of coupled heat/mass transfer and electrochemical kinetics in direct alcohol fuel cells, establishing a new theoretical framework which has subsequently enabled much higher performances for both direct methanol and direct ethanol fuel cells. Prof Zhao and his research team have achieved methanol fuel cell performance with a power density of mW/cm , which is four times higher than the previous record; set a world record of mW/cm for direct ethanol fuel cells; and created a laboratory fuel cell prototype that could power a model car for hours on ve cubic centimeters of fuel. The signi cant impact of such cross- eld insights has been widely recognized. Prof Zhao has been selected as a Highly Cited Researcher for four consecutive years from ( rst three years run by Thomson Reuters and last year by Clarivate Analytics) and received a State Natural Science Award, one of China’s highest scienti c recognitions, for two consecutive years. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. His endeavors have also been supported by a Croucher Senior Research Fellowship, a prestigious Hong Kong accolade awarded to eminent academics to support a year’s full-time research. Inspirational force In addition, his passion for his eld has steered him to winning ways as an educator, as reflected in the many teaching honors that adorn his o ce wall. To inspire interest in thermodynamics among students, he uses his own research and examples from real life, such as boiling water, to introduce the concepts behind a particular phenomenon. He himself was introduced to the idea of energy conversion at school and immediately felt an a nity for the subject. At Tianjin University, he studied thermophysics engineering at bachelor and master’s levels. Later, to further his keen interest in heat transfer, he applied to take his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where one of the key people in the eld was located. It proved to be a wonderful place to study amid spectacular surroundings, even though he spent most of his time in the lab and only occasionally went to beach. 08 IN FOCUS Cover Story Makes renewables accessible wherever and whenever needed, through creation of e-fuel power pack ( kW), e-fuel, and e-fuel charger ( kW) + o -grid e-fuel-powered demo lab at HKUST Innovative e-fuel storage system Solution Major problem for widespread adoption of renewables (solar/wind currently less than %) Storage required to solve intermittency problem, but existing technologies ine ective Challenge Boosts energy security, mitigates climate change, enhances urban health Sustainable energy Impact Alternative power pioneer Managing ows of electrons, ions, mass and heat as thermo- uid science meets electrochemistry, enabling theoretical and application breakthroughs. Intermittency

09 IN FOCUS Characterizing the properties of e-fuels. Prof Tianshou Zhao (center) and researchers test e-fuel cells using a model car. Fresh light on our sustainable future This University-wide multidisciplinary platform, led by Prof Tianshou Zhao, encompasses close to core and a liated faculty members, integrating and enabling energy-related research, development and education. Members of the Institute are investigating sustainable energy production, energy storage, and conservation, including biofuels, next-generation solar cells, Li-based batteries, energy-e cient technologies for green buildings and energy policy, among other areas. In addition, the Institute has developed Hong Kong’s rst bachelor program in sustainable energy engineering. The inaugural cohort will begin their studies in Fall . The HKUST Energy Institute 香港科大能源研究院 In , he then swapped this fruitful and beautiful environment for another at HKUST, which was closer to his home town of Xian and o ered the freedom to explore his life’s goal of that net zero sustainable energy community. It has been time well spent as he has gradually built up a unique body of knowledge that may hold a vital key to unlocking the greater adoption of renewables. In charting the genesis of his e-fuel storage system, Prof Zhao explained: “I had been mulling over and gradually piecing together all the knowledge I had gained over the past two decades and realized this was an exciting way to really drive such research and development forward. If we can realize our goals with our e-fuel storage system, we can really put Hong Kong on the map as a sustainable energy city.” From basic research to visionary applications and education, the HKUST Energy Institute is advancing alternative solutions.

10 IN FOCUS The single-cell detective Prof Angela Ruohao Wu is hunting down the cells that cause cancer using novel bioengineering techniques that can pro le individual cells with greater accuracy and sensitivity Main Feature Faculty Insight

Prof Angela Wu is seeking to bridge the gaps between biology and engineering. 11 IN FOCUS Wu Lab-designed micro uidic device for capturing cells... ...and generating hydrogel beads... ... which are used to tag and manipulate single cells in the device, and to aid analysis.

ising academic star Prof Angela Ruohao Wu, Chemical and Biological Engineering, and her research into tumor initiation reveal her passion for engineering that makes a di erence. Where she is making that di erence is in the cutting-edge emerging eld of single-cell genomics and the design of microfluidic devices (“lab-on-a-chip”) that can isolate individual cells, enabling single-cell analysis of their genome and uncovering errors, including mutations. “Just as di erent people have di erent characteristics and play diverse roles in society, di erent cells have their own unique identities and functions in an organ. Traditionally, researchers take millions of cells from an organ and study their average genomic pro le, which doesn’t say much about an individual cell,” she noted. Her work helps to provide the techniques to enable each cell to be located and identi ed to provide a “human cell atlas”, rather like a Google map. “Even when the cells ‘go rogue’ and become pathological, for example in cancer, the diversity of cell types in tumors remains important at the individual cell level. To give us the location, function, and role of each individual cell, I design microfluidic devices to isolate individual cells,” she said. “We can then read and analyze their genome individually at the single-cell level and discover mistakes, such as mutations.” Understanding cancer While most one-cell researchers to date have explored DNA and RNA separately, Prof Wu and her team are seeking to make a unique contribution by studying them together, using a new technique that will provide a more complete set of information about a cell. What this technique could o er is the potential to learn more about the origins of the disease, for example, the fundamental reason – “big bang event” – that initiates a cancer tumor. 12 IN FOCUS R The Wu Lab team: one-cell researchers using novel technologies to study DNA and RNA together. “What motivates me every day is the joy of working with my team to invent new technologies, and make discoveries about biology to help us ght diseases such as cancer” Faculty Insight

Prof Wu’s ndings should be generally applicable to many cancer types. “Currently, people who study cancer from the DNA mutation perspective have found evidence that cancer is a disease caused by these mutations. Those who study cancers and their growth have evidence that there may be a so-called cancer stem cell giving rise to the rest of the cancer. So far there is no way to directly connect these two phenomena,” she said. Bioengineering pioneer Prof Wu was born in China and raised in the Mainland, Hong Kong, and Australia. She initially took up biology because her “tiger parents” thought it was a promising direction for a career. Before long, she had become utterly fascinated, leading her to the “eureka” moment during her rst single-cell experiment where she saw individual cells being caught in each chamber inside a microfluidic biochip. “Wow, I’m one of the very rst people to do this,” she recalled thinking. “It was really exciting.” She studied for her bachelor degree in bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley and for her master’s and doctoral degrees in the same eld at Stanford University. At Stanford she was supervised by Prof Stephen Quake, a leading gure in genomics, biophysics and bioengineering technologies that facilitate rapid analysis of the human genome and microfluidic automation. She was awarded the Bio-X Bowes Graduate Student Fellowship for interdisciplinary research and the Siebel Scholarship for top bioengineering graduates. As a postdoctoral fellow in the Quake lab, she was one of the rst to come up with a framework for analyzing complex single-cell datasets. Prof Wu joined HKUST in December as a faculty member. During interviews with Asian institutions, she found HKUST to have the most open and independent academic culture. She was also drawn to the international atmosphere, culturally diverse and productive faculty, dynamic students, and the University’s spectacular campus. Practical applications With an ultimate goal of bridging gaps between biology and engineering, Prof Wu is not only working on basic research but also on practical ways to bene t healthcare. Her research team is developing DNA-based diagnostics for intensive care units together with Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. In addition, as the co-founder of Agenovir Corporation, a US start-up established in , she is driving forward the use of genome editing technology to target and delete disease- and cancer-causing viruses inside the genome. In targeting destruction of viral DNA, the biomedical rm aims to remove viruses from the cell to make the cure permanent. Prof Wu’s contributions to the eld of single-cell analysis technologies and her work at Agenovir were recognized internationally when she was named one of MIT Technology Review’s Top Innovators Under in Asia in . Her research has also been published in prestigious journals including Nature, Nature Methods, and PLoS Genetics. With her passion for solving problems, Prof Wu nds engineering both rewarding and empowering. “When I am presented with challenges, it feels extra-good to overcome them,” she said. “I hope more women will consider engineering as a career to change the status quo and to say, ‘I can do it too’.” 13 IN FOCUS Team spirit and novel technologies Prof Angela Wu considers the founding of Agenovir Corporation, together with her Stanford University PhD advisor Prof Stephen Quake and two other Stanford University a liates, to be a milestone in her learning curve, providing insight into the importance of good communication, team spirit, respect for di erent perspectives and partners with complementary skill sets. Prof Wu still harbors a passion for bringing useful technologies to market to help patients, and her experience at Agenovir helped her explore how to translate academic concepts into a commercial setting. She hopes to continue her entrepreneurial pursuits in her career at HKUST.

er decades of research and development, arti cial intelligence (AI) is now poised to disrupt every walk of human life: from nance to healthcare, retail to the creative industries, even to areas such as the future of work and society overall. Through the combined advancement of graphics processing unit platforms, big data, machine-learning algorithms and neural networks, AI has reached a tipping point. At the same time, AI’s increasing visibility has brought a certain unease about this “existential threat”, perhaps most chillingly mooted through the “Singularity”, a hypothetical future network of super-intelligent machines through which AI will overtake humans. While to my mind, this long-term fear is unfounded, there are many near-term social issues regarding the safety, transparency, and security of AI technologies. Today, global organizations such as the Partnership on AI to Bene t People and Society, which HKUST joined in October , are rightly starting initiatives on fair, accountable, transparent and explainable (FATE) AI. These involve setting standards and policies, implementing FATE measures, designing testing criteria, and more. “The international exchange of ideas in AI in Asia must extend beyond the purely technical to discussions of social impact and ethical practices” Asia, in particular China, South Korea and Japan, are major drivers of AI innovation while the continent’s population size makes it the largest market for AI applications today and in the foreseeable future. Top Asian technology companies, such as Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, Naver and Samsung are highly active in pushing cutting-edge AI research, with Asian consumers accepting of and open to the latest AI technology. Given such a context and the hugely competitive nature of today’s global economy, job loss to machines, the social impact of new AI products and AI’s “existential threat” are not on the minds of most Asians yet. However, the time is now for us to start to design ethical principles for AI that do take into account the culture and philosophy of Asian societies; and to motivate companies to adhere and aspire to such principles. At HKUST, we are currently pooling our expertise in the Schools of Engineering, Science and Business & Management to use AI in the development of ethical FinTech. Our Institute for Public Policy is interested in collaborating on AI policy and governance. Our School of Humanities and Social Science has experts on social impact. Together, we believe, we can make a di erence in this critical area of the future, regionally and globally. The AI future certainly promises to be an exciting and disruptive one. Let’s also ensure through responsible and ethical development in Asia it is one that truly does usher in a better way of life for all. 14 IN FOCUS The ethics behind AI Prof Pascale Fung, Electronic and Computer Engineering, is the creator of Zara the Supergirl, the world’s rst empathetic virtual robot, and HKUST’s representative to the Partnership on AI to Bene t People and Society, launched by technology giants including Amazon, Google and Facebook. HKUST is the consortium’s rst Asian institutional member. By Prof Pascale Fung Vision of the future A Faculty Column Watch the World Economic Forum video of Prof Pascale Fung discussing AI and robotics.

15 IN FOCUS Ranked 17th Engineering School in the world by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) (2018)

HKUST Life alk into the Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering (ECE) o ce and you will be struck by the light and airy open space, with glass panels o ering a stunning sea view. Department Head Prof Bertram Shi explains that the new look was spurred by the idea of making connections – between people, and between humans and their environment. This is a concept now central to the ECE discipline. If electronic engineering in the s was all about studying how to control the flow of electrons, today the focus is on facilitating connections between parts of a system, he noted. Prof Shi is an internationally renowned expert in robotics, fascinated by the links between neural networks and circuit design – a direction that combines his interests in biology and electrical engineering. He joined HKUST as a young academic in , a er earning his bachelor and master’s from Stanford University and his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. He arrived just three years a er HKUST was founded. He has called the campus home ever since. All the right connections HKUST’s scenic setting and collaborative spirit create an inspirational home for engineering academics. Prof Bert Shi is among those who arrived long ago and never wanted to leave 16 IN FOCUS W Prof Bert Shi (second left) builds bonds with and between students.

“It was unlike any other university I had seen,” he recalled. Many of the other faculty members at that time were, like him, starting out on their academic careers. But a tier of eminent senior professors had also been recruited to set a world-class research pace, and to encourage and guide international aspiration among those starting out. “Many of us have built our entire careers here. It was a very collaborative e ort. We were surrounded by top people from whom we could learn.” “It was unlike any other university I had seen. Many of us have built our entire careers here” Learn Prof Shi did, going on to become an internationally renowned explorer in his eld. One current major area of research for Prof Shi and his team is the advancement of the Active E cient Coding framework, which seeks to nd general principles governing the development of biological neural systems, and to develop corresponding algorithms enabling robots to adaptively structure their own behavior without supervision. “When a baby is gestated, new cells are generated and connect largely automatically. These connections continue to evolve a er birth,” Prof Shi said. “My research is focused on the principles that allow these connections to develop.” A particular applied focus for the Shi Lab is vision. Not only are the researchers seeking to assist autonomous machines to see but to respond to what they see, just as a human would. This perception-action cycle is a key part of enabling a machine to adapt to changes in its environment as it recognizes the importance of active interaction, a tting area for a triathlete such as Prof Shi. “Passivity doesn’t require intelligence,” he said. “Intelligence is intimately tied to physical activity. I don’t see a separation between mind and body. They are intimately connected.” A second area of interest is exploiting models of human behavior and emotion recognition in developing human-machine interfaces that can anticipate and adapt to user needs. As an educator, Prof Shi has also dedicated himself to the cutting edge. His co-designed System View of Communications course was one of the rst o ered under HKUST’s credit-bearing Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) initiative, opening out the University’s education to learners worldwide. Within the department, he sees more blended learning – combining face-to-face learning and online activities – playing a larger part in the future. HKUST and the School of Engineering are now ranked among the world’s best, even though less than three decades old (see P ). For Prof Shi, the freedom to explore as a researcher and teacher, the drive for excellence, and camaraderie of colleagues, drawn together in a collective endeavor to put HKUST on the map globally, have all played their part in such a meteoric rise. And made his individual career a ful lling one. “Engineering design is about how to nd the right place to put a particular component and how to connect it,” he said. “If you think of yourself as a component in this world, when you nd the right place to connect, the right people to connect with, and the right ways to contribute, that is the best measure of success.” 17 IN FOCUS Day and night : the stunning HKUST campus that fosters creativity.

HKUST robotics research team is accelerating forward the driverless transport revolution with the development of an e cient, cost-e ective, low-power consumption autonomous control system for slow-moving vehicles. The exciting technology encompasses golf carts and hospital service carts, among others. It can also be extended to other autonomous vehicles involved in relatively complex scenarios, such as manoeuvring in congested urban tra c as opposed to the more straightforward conditions of highway driving. The team, comprising faculty and students at the HKUST Robotics Institute and led by Prof Ming Liu, Electronic and Computer Engineering, has developed a customized “control bus” – used by the central processing unit (CPU) to talk to other devices in the computer – to facilitate centralized control of the vehicle’s mobility functions, including wire-driven steering, acceleration and brakes. Working closely with a light detection and ranging (Lidar) company that develops remote sensing, along with car companies and manufacturers, the researchers have created a near-to-market prototype, costing around HK$ , . The technology uses a single Lidar to achieve perception, control, mapping, localization and navigation in real-time, with only minor computational A 18 IN FOCUS Innovation

resources and no graphics processing unit (GPU). “Such a development gives industry a fresh way to look at driverless cars and tackle the key challenge of enhancing the safety of such vehicles,” Prof Liu said. Safety should be enhanced as the Lidar can percept its surroundings at a rate of Hz (or higher based on the latest technology) at cm-level precision, which is far beyond the capability of the human perception system, Prof Liu explained. It can also cover a -degree eld-of-view and never feels tired. “All these factors point to the fact that utilization of additional sensors, such as Lidar, will enhance safety, once the algorithms are e cient and e ective,” he said. Speeding toward a driverless future The retro tted electric golf cart used to test the HKUST autonomous control system can travel 30-40 kilometers without recharging. 19 IN FOCUS

20 IN FOCUS I rst discovered my passion for programming when I had a chance to write simple programs during a computer lesson at high school. I felt this subject had a special closeness to people’s daily lives. I realized a lot of everyday activities, for example, riding in li s, or pursuits I really liked, such as sur ng the Internet and playing online games, were related to programming. This motivated me to learn more about it in the hope of creating something useful myself one day. The chance arose during my Final Year Project. In addition to my degree studies, I had been learning Hong Kong Sign Language for several years. This had introduced me to the world of hearing and speech impairment and the di culties in learning how to sign. When I saw that designing a novel translation app for Hong Kong Sign Language was on the Final Year Project list, I was really excited. Although I was the only one of our group who knew how to sign, the other two students agreed it was a valuable undertaking and we asked our advisor, Prof Brian Mak, if we could be assigned to this project. Traditional sign language apps can usually only translate individual words or terms. Our aim was to develop a pioneering app that could instantaneously translate a Chinese sentence into sign language. The bene ts would enhance communication with the hearing-impaired and help sign language learners become familiar with sign language syntax (which varies from the usual word order used in Chinese sentence structure). It certainly proved a demanding endeavor but also a great, all-round knowledge and skill-building experience. Among other tasks, we had to undertake research related to Hong Kong Sign Language, design a system structure, lm numerous demonstration videos, write code, and test our application. But, a er a year, our prototype was ready. I found the whole development process tremendously rewarding. I also realized that even when the Final Year Project had nished, we should keep on working to improve our app. Just as importantly, I really wanted to make our invention better and better, and now truly understood the meaning of “the joy of learning”. Mary Ming Fong Leung BEng in Computer Science ( ) Young Engineers Di erent ways to make a di erence Three School of Engineering students, three enterprising endeavors with a community contribution to make and a life-changing personal impact *English added to graphic. Not included in app. Mary Leung’s syntax app assists Chinese sign language learners. Get to Get to UST How to get to UST*

21 IN FOCUS nding old pictures of Hong Kong, along with Cantopop songs ranging from Leslie Cheung to Anita Mui. A er locating an abandoned old-fashioned television (which was at least years old), we removed the glass, and assembled the PC, Arduino and speakers inside. I couldn’t believe it. Together with constant mentoring from our professors, we had managed to design and manufacture a novel concept in just four weeks! It was now time to test the invention. On exhibition day, a group of seniors came to the HKUST Library to inspect and interact with the di erent student products. Finally, they reached MemoTV. Naveen turned the television on and a er a few seconds of silence, the screen burst into life. The familiar voice of “King of Comedy” Kee Chan Tang (鄧寄塵) rang out, and our elderly viewers began laughing. The visitor nearest to the television then turned the set’s dials, which changed the content and era respectively, and the screen flashed up a black-and-white image of the HSBC Main Building in Central in the s. “Waaaaaah!”, the seniors sang out in unison. As our viewers continued chatting about and operating our MemoTV, I looked at my teammates and saw they knew it was a job well done. Looking back, this has to be my favorite course to date. Not because of the grade but because it gave me con dence. It convinced me that I could make somebody smile, and has been the highlight of my university life as it unlocked so much untapped potential. Now I am in my nal year and my working life is right around the corner. I hope I will nd another opportunity to experience what true engineering is in the future. When I was admitted to the School of Engineering, I decided on Mechanical Engineering to explore more about the application of concepts and formulas. A er two years, and keen to see engineering from a di erent angle, I enrolled in the interdisciplinary month-long Design Thinking summer course, organized by the Industrial Engineering and Decision Analytics Department together with the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou. Working in groups – two HKUST students paired with two from China Academy – we set out to design and manufacture an interactive product for elderly people in Hong Kong day care centers. As my Thai computer science HKUST teammate Naveen and I were not well-versed in Mandarin and our China Academy groupmates were not comfortable in English, it was a challenge from the start. However, on Day , we went for hotpot and became close friends. On Day , we discovered design thinking was no easy feat: we had no idea what to make. I encouraged my team to apply the design thinking techniques we had learned, such as brainstorming, a nity clustering, storyboarding, and drawing up an importance vs priority matrix. A er ltering, prioritizing, and combining ideas, MemoTV was born. My vision was a television that could display nostalgic photographs, videos, and newspaper clippings of Hong Kong in the past century, drawing the elderly together and helping them share memories. To create this, I assigned tasks to my teammates based on their strengths. One focused on programming the Arduino (an open-source electronics platform), while another assembled the speakers and mounted the personal computer inside. The third began Urvil Sheth BEng in Mechanical Engineering ( ) Urvil Sheth and his nostalgic MemoTV for seniors.

I have loved robots since I was a child and o en dreamed of building one myself. This aspiration made me choose Mechanical Engineering at HKUST, rst as an undergraduate, now as a research student. When I was growing up, my father’s business took him – and me – around the world, which means I am always open to new adventures. In Year of my bachelor degree, I met Dr Feng Ni, then a PhD student. He introduced me to “so ” robots, machines made of silicone rubber and plastics. This concept immediately fascinated me as I had previously only imagined robots to be metallic, as in Star Wars. First, I worked with Dr Ni and an MPhil student to develop and re ne a “so nger” actuator – a component responsible for moving or controlling a mechanism. Following this, I joined the Smart So End E ector team, a group of nal year undergraduate mechanical engineering students who wanted to apply robotics knowledge to solve real-life problems. Our aim was to leverage the so nger actuator, add a smart close loop control to broaden its potential applications, and develop a so robotic gripper that could grasp a variety of objects. As the so robotics eld is only just emerging, we had to do most of the background research ourselves as information wasn’t yet available in textbooks. Such self-study, teamwork, and the intensive discussions required to develop the gripper proved brilliant training. A er several generations of experiments using pressure and flex sensors, under the guidance of Profs Lilong Cai and Michael Wang, we succeeded in creating a gripper capable of grasping objects of di erent shape, sizes and texture. Even a foodstu as delicate as tofu! My teammates (Chenxi Feng, Chunli Jiang, Zihang Zhang, Peng Zhou) and I were all very proud to win the President’s Cup and the Gold Award in the ASM Technology Award for our innovation. During development, we also sought to raise interest among the business sector and even went to the CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. We believe that in the future this smart e ector could be highly useful in caring for the elderly and children, and industries such as food packaging and automated farming. The project has already fundamentally changed our own lives. Alexander Yu Tse MPhil in Mechanical Engineering BEng in Mechanical Engineering 22 IN FOCUS Young Engineers Alexander Tse and the smart soft robotic gripper invented by his undergraduate nal year project team.

n the st century, higher education must continuously adapt to the needs of an ever-changing world. For most of my -year teaching career, course syllabi and content have dominated how knowledge is taught. In recent years, though, pedagogical research has led to a paradigm shi from teacher-centered teaching to learner-centered learning, placing a greater emphasis on active and experiential learning – and a clear departure from the traditional, passive, lecture-style approach. HKUST has been at the forefront of revolutionizing the pedagogy of higher education in Hong Kong. Lectures have o en been criticized for being ine ective. Some studies have shown that the long-term retention rate of learners from this style of teaching is normally less than %. While the rate can be improved with the help of audio-visual aids or demonstrations, it appears only to increase to above % if students are actively involved in the learning process. This is why HKUST is devoting resources to developing active learning pedagogies. In the School of Engineering’s Center for Engineering Education Innovation (E I), we are developing experiential learning strategies to promote active engagement and participation in a classroom setting and to connect the process of engineering design with real-world problems. A report* published by the US National Academy of Engineering also recommends that design, build, and test processes should be introduced at the earliest stage of an engineering curriculum rather than waiting until a later stage of a student’s four-year undergraduate program. “We are developing experiential learning strategies... to connect the process of engineering design with real-world problems” In Fall , the First Year Cornerstone Engineering Design Project Course was o ered as a regular course for the rst time. This was created together with Prof Ben Y B Chan, Associate Director of E I, fully incorporates active and experiential learning, and was developed speci cally with HKUST engineering freshmen in mind. It seeks to expose such students to knowledge and skills from di erent engineering disciplines before deciding on their majors. Faculty from di erent departments teach discipline-speci c knowledge through online delivery to allow rst-year students from a variety of backgrounds to learn at their own pace. Students have opportunities to work collaboratively on a design project by applying the knowledge they have acquired and to gain hands-on experience of di erent emerging technologies, including drones, D printing, Arduino programming, and mobile app development. E I’s intention in adopting this innovative approach is to enable students to acquire a more versatile technical skill set while developing the essential so skills to be successful in their future careers. Ultimately, the course is designed to stimulate students’ interest in engineering and to lay the foundation for solving the engineering grand challenges of the st century. * “Educating the Engineer of 2020 – Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century”, 23 IN FOCUS Activating an education that moves with the times Prof Ting Chuen Pong, Computer Science and Engineering, is Director of the School of Engineering’s Center for Engineering Education Innovation and Senior Advisor to HKUST’s Executive Vice-President and Provost (Teaching Innovation and E-learning). century engineers st I Faculty Column By Prof Ting Chuen Pong