The BUddy Post – HKBU Alumni Affairs Office

March 2024
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Go

People・Wisdom

The Significance of Science and Technology in Transdisciplinary Education

An Interview with Professor Michael Ng, Dean of the Faculty of Science of HKBU

Professor Michael Ng, the newly appointed Dean of the Faculty of Science, shares with us his plan and vision in his new capacity.

Founded in 1961, the Faculty of Science of HKBU has a profound heritage of over 60 years, and has been dedicated to conducting impactful research which can benefit the society at large. In recent years, the Faculty has aligned with the University’s strategic development by actively engaging in transdisciplinary research, and cultivating talents of the new generation. Professor Michael Ng, the newly appointed Dean of the Faculty of Science, shares with us his plan and vision for bringing the Faculty to new heights in his new capacity.

Rejoining HKBU for a New Mission

Professor Ng is no stranger to HKBU indeed, as he joined the Department of Mathematics as early as in 2005 and then took up the position of the Head of the Department from 2014 to 2019. In 2019, Professor Ng took on a role at The University of Hong Kong as Chair Professor and Research Division Director for Mathematical and Statistical Science, before re-joining HKBU in August 2023. When being asked what significant changes he had observed upon his return to HKBU, he jokingly said, “When I first logged on to the University email system, I realised that the network security had greatly enhanced.” Meanwhile, he noticed that the University’s infrastructure had also been upgraded, as the Li Promenade had generated a livelier and more energetic vibe after renovation while the Ho Sin Hang Campus (HSHC) would be undergoing redevelopment. The redevelopment meant a lot to them indeed as HSHC was home to the Faculty of Science, and he hoped that these developments could accommodate more sophisticated facilities for providing better support of research work. As the new Dean of the Faculty, Professor Ng would be putting one of his emphases on supporting young scholars. He was excited to share with us, “I would like to meet all the Assistant Professors of the Faculty in the first few weeks of my deanship to understand their difficulties and needs. I believe as long as we can offer them proper guidance and support, these young scholars will definitely be the future pillars of our Faculty, and they will also contribute to the research development of the University.”

Prof Ng (back row, second from right) has established a good relationship with colleagues and students of the Faculty of Science.

The Beauty and Ethics of Science

Professor Ng is an internationally distinguished scholar as he is recognised as one of the top 1% scholars in Mathematics, Computer Science and Engineering based on Essential Science Indicators. While preparing for the final-year project during his undergraduate studies of mathematics, Professor Ng had the chance to get in touch with programming, which sparked his research interest in this area. Since then, he had indulged in research in both mathematics and computer science. He elaborated why he had fallen for both subjects, “The beauty of science lays in its simplicity. For instance, mathematics translates the world’s phenomena into equations and formulae, which present something complex in a simple manner gracefully, making it easier for communication among laymen. While for computer science, it offers the skillsets to find out the solutions of questions prompted by mathematics. To me, they are the perfect partner of each other.” In this digital era, artificial intelligence (AI) helps humans tackle numerous issues in daily lives; when touching upon the argument whether AI could replace humans, Professor Ng gave his views, “While technology progresses, governance is vital. To me, the worry that AI may control humans back is more relevant and it surely requires governance to ensure the ethical use of AI. Moreover, I think there is still room for development on the current technology of AI, as the complexity of the human brain is still not yet simulated or replaceable by AI.”

Prof Ng shares one of his favourite formulae, as it can gracefully presents a phenomenon in the world.

Fostering Transdisciplinary Education

Professor Ng is a dedicated educator and researcher. To align with the development direction of the University, he and his team are keen on fostering transdisciplinary education by exploring various possibilities of programme design. For instance, his team has been discussing the feasibility of implementing an extended major in AI; through communication with teachers from different faculties/schools, they endeavour to develop programmes which can cater the needs of different streams. In this connection, HKBU students’ knowledge on STEM can be enhanced, and they will be groomed to be transdisciplinary talents. He added, “We are also investigating the possibility of incorporating fundamental knowledge of AI into general education courses, such that students are able to grasp the basics of AI which will certainly facilitate their employment opportunities and career development.” In the capacity of Dean of the Faculty of Science, Professor Ng also strives to organise forums and workshops to encourage more exchanges among teachers from different departments, fulfilling the University’s vision for supporting social development.

Prof Ng discusses with Dr Melanie Lee, Director of Alumni Affairs, on the possible collaboration opportunities with alumni.

The Essentials of Academic Foundation and Interest

Despite the busy schedule as a Dean, Professor Ng attempts to strike a balance between various aspects of work. Apart from research work, he makes an effort to meet with students from different departments. When talking about how students could prepare themselves for pursuing a career in the scientific academic field, he shared his thoughts, “Having a strong academic foundation is critical, but it is also important to set a clear objective and understand how to raise an appropriate research question. Interest plays a vital role as well, since we need to invest lots of time and effort on research work, we can only persist in it if we are able to enjoy it.” Moreover, Professor Ng anticipated to provide more value-added opportunities for students. For instance, he would like to discuss with various faculties/schools and alumni to organise internship and mentorship programmes for students, nurturing future talents for society.

In leisure time, Prof Ng likes to travel on the Mainland to visit and appreciate the historic landmarks, enriching his humanistic qualities.