In Focus - Issue 29 (Spring 2018)

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*