New Blood for the Information Age
Everyone talks about IT these days. But does everyone understand what the two letters really mean and what information engineering is about?
Before Song Jianhan joined the Information Engineering (IE) programme at CUHK, he thought he might be trained to be a hacker. Jianhan recollected: ‘After I gained more knowledge through my studies in this programme, I learnt that IE has a wide spectrum of research interests, such as cyber security, wireless communications and Big Data. All of the related IT applications have interesting theoretical backgrounds. Therefore, you will learn the technologies here, but you can also go further to explore the world behind it.’ Jianhan will be going to the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a PhD in communications and networks.
Prof. Sean Tang, Programme Director of IE, said, ‘The IE programme educates and nurtures engineering professionals, researchers and leaders for the present and future Information World. We train our students to be well-versed in the areas of communications systems and networks, Internet engineering, cybersecurity, mobile and cloud computing, multimedia processing, Big Data systems and applications as well as software engineering.’
The programme admits around 80 students each year, who all share a keen interest and solid background in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) subjects. Dicky Lai is another IE student who recognized the important role networking plays in present-day technology and said that this programme ‘has given me a better understanding of the networking technologies through lectures and hands-on projects. I admire the way of communications in our world, from the 1 and 0 signals to those high performance and scalable applications.’
Professor Tang pointed out that, “According to a 2015 Harvard Business Review Analytic Services Report titled ‘Digital Transformation of Business’, Mobility, Social, Cloud and Big Data are the four mega technological trends that will dominate the coming decade. These emerging areas align extremely well with the core strengths and strategic development directions of the IE programme. We are confident that we will continue to nurture innovators and engineering leaders who can manage and create new information technologies to serve all disciplines, meeting the society’s great demand for such talents in the years to come.”
He continued, ‘The IE programme combines the fundamentals of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in one major. Such inter-disciplinary nature is unique amongst all ICT-related programmes offered by the universities in Hong Kong. The IE curriculum not only offers solid foundation training in these two disciplines but also provides the broadest set of electives for our students to choose from. The unparalleled flexibility offered by the IE curriculum enables our students to tailor their studies according to each individual’s academic interest and professional development plan.’
Jianhan said, ‘I have had several research experiences, through which I have improved my self-learning ability and gained a deeper understanding on the topics. The way I see it, the courses expand your knowledge while research helps you understand how such knowledge works in practice. This kind of training will change the way you see and tackle a real-world problem.
‘Last year, I participated in a one-year full-time work study as part of the programme when I worked in a local start-up as a web developer. Although I will not embark on a programmer’s career, this experience has nonetheless improved my techniques and enriched my outlook.’
Dicky also said, ‘This programme has excellent resources to support the students in learning. A number of laboratories with various functions are ready for the students. I have gone through some practical works like coping with circuits, setting enterprise level networks, or doing Big Data analysis with the resources provided by the programme. The professors are very much in the frontiers of the fields and they taught us the latest technologies. For example, I had learnt node.js, which was then a newly developed server-side programming, back in 2015.’
Our IE graduates have found employment in software development, technical consulting, telecommunications, networks and information system management, project management, engineering operations and services, technical sales and marketing, among others.
The companies which recruited our IE graduates include: Morgan Stanley, PriceWaterhouseCooper, PCCW, Smartone, HKPC, OOCL, MTR, IBM, Oracle, HKMA, HSBC, the HKSAR Government, HKPC, AT&T, Broadcom, Cisco, Huawei, Qualcomm, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Yahoo, Youku, Tencent, etc.
If you are considering to study information engineering at CUHK, here are Dicky’s words to you: ‘Whether you want to develop yourself into a communication-focused or a software-focused person, this programme provides numerous opportunities for you to learn the technologies. You can have an all-round understanding and a full picture of the technologies.’
Jianhan agreed: ‘Without a doubt, information technologies have a bright future, but the path to become an IT person is not trivial. I will recommend students who are really interested in this field to consider choosing our programme. The teachers here are always willing to help. Remember, never give up any chance to improve yourself!’
Published: Summer 2017