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Outstanding Student, Faculty of Construction and Environment 2017

Mr. CHEN Dachi
BEng (Hons) in Civil Engineering


It is my great honour to be named the Outstanding Student of the Faculty of Construction and Environment (FCE). I am delighted to share my learning experience at PolyU through this article and would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to those who have offered me supports throughout the years.

I have been long interested in the relationship between the built environment and citizens’ wellbeing as well as the planning and construction of infrastructures. It is my privilege to study in FCE at PolyU. In addition to the comprehensive curriculum that allowed me to learn both theories and practices, I also took advantage of the tight connection between our university and the industry to improve and consolidate my knowledge through engagement in industrial level projects. During the summer break of my second and third years, I got the opportunities to intern at Shanghai Construction Group and Ove Arup & Partners Hong Kong Ltd respectively. I have learned a lot by interacting with the experienced engineers as well as built up my professional network during these two internships. I was also able to catch a glimpse of the actual practices in the industry through daily workflow and site visits. Being able to intern at different places and settings also allowed me to observe how the professionals from each place work and compare the differences between them, such as code of practices and technical terms. These experiences are particularly important to my future career development.

Observing the significance of transportation systems in modern cities, particularly in Hong Kong, and the potential evolution brought by the Internet of things, I started my research in transportation for my final year project where I evaluated the feasibility of leveraging the ubiquitous of Wi-Fi to extract useful traffic information at public bus stops. My supervisor Prof. Agachai Sumalee and Ph.D. candidate Miss Toey provided me with lots of useful suggestions in how to systemically conduct research and gave me constructive comments on my research. With all the hard work and time put into the thesis, I was awarded the Best Final Year Project Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers (Hong Kong Chapter). I was thrilled by the opportunity to convert academic studies to technology that may improve citizens’ wellbeing. I aspire to further my research in transportation after my graduation.

PolyU and FCE have offered me great platforms and resources for inter-cultural exchanges. By living in the student halls of residence, I had chances to live with a Chinese mainland student, a local student and also a Romanian exchange student. Through participation in various activities held in the student halls and campus, I got to learn different cultures and make more friends. In my third year of study, I went to the Imperial College London (Imperial) where I was in a class of around 90 students from 22 different countries. All these experiences broadened my mind-set and nurtured me to become a global citizen who can communicate freely and efficiently and is ready to work under any international context. However, I would have to say the process was not easy, particularly for an introvert person like me. The adaptation process of continuously pushing myself out of my comfort zone to fit into new environment was undoubtedly painful. However, when I look back and reflect, I am always glad to see my improvement and happy that I have made those choices.

I have never taken the resources offered by the community for granted and I have been doing my part to serve those in needs.  I was a voluntary tutor at community centres in Sham Shui Po and Mong Kok to help unprivileged children with their coursework. My passion to serve the community has grown stronger after my participation in the service-learning trip to Cambodia. Our team together with the Cambodian students built solar charging stations and completed in-door wiring for the local community where electricity was not available. Through this service-learning subject, we went through a process from learning the community to understanding their needs, from learning the skills to applying the knowledge to serve and finally from evaluating our services to thinking about the future plans. The subject inspired me to serve the community in a more proactive and well-thought-out way and to strive for positive and enduring changes and improvement to those in needs, instead of acting merely as a participant of a service project. It changed my perspective of serving and I will definitely continue this approach to further contribute to the society.

Finally, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the supports I have received throughout these years. To Prof. William Lam, Prof. Agachai Sumalee, Prof. Kam-tim Chau, Dr. Songye Zhu and Dr. Huanfeng Duan, thank you so much for your supports and sharing your insights with me despite your tight schedules. And to my civil engineering fellows at PolyU and Imperial as well as all of my friends, these four years will not be so wonderful without you guys. Last but not least, I cannot be more grateful for my family’s unconditional supports and for always being there for me.



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