On 24 March 1972 the Hong Kong Polytechnic Ordinance was brought into effect and the Hong Kong Polytechnic was formally established on 1 August 1972. The Polytechnic was established to nurture professional technologists and technicians to meet the growing needs of the booming manufacturing industry in Hong Kong. Practical skills and experiences of students were particularly emphasized during the time, which led the establishment of Industrial Centre (IC) in 1976.
IC was founded in 1976 under the leadership of Dr the Hon. Sir CHUNG Sze-yuen, Founding Chairman of Council, HK Polytechnic. In its early years IC operated as primitive industrial training base, providing traditional and basic training activities as part of the overall education package for engineering and construction students. Though the training activities were entirely traditional in nature, it reflected the actual demand and need of the industry in those days. Dr the Hon. Sir Sze-chuen Chung, Founding Chairman of Council (1972-1986) recalled that:
"a major and very successful development in the early years was the establishment in 1976 of the novel Industrial Centre for providing comprehensive professional and technological training of Polytechnic students. The Centre has since developed and expanded to become the only industrial centre in Hong Kong for engineering students in all local tertiary institutions, as well as being one of the best equipped in the world."
In addition to providing training to students of the Hong Kong Polytechnic, IC also started serving the City Polytechnic in 1986 and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in 1992. IC also offered courses and academic programmes for the University, industry and community in the early years. Planned expansion of student numbers and a subsequent shift to the requirement of professionals resulting from the rapid growth in Hong Kong's society and economy in the 1980's urged the Polytechnic to establish a new, centralized and multi-disciplinary IC.
The new IC building was completed in 1992 accommodating the training needs of two polytechnics and other institutions. The Centre has pioneered a forward-looking and groundbreaking model named "Learning Factory". Using the traditional module as its backbone, the model introduces a vast array of new technologies, encourages development of high value-added learning activities and aims also to help students to broaden their horizon and to equip with different skill sets and qualities. The "Learning Factory" concept was greatly supported by industry. It was cited by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) as an "exemplary model for training in industrial technology", and described at the International Conference on Engineering Education (ICEE) as "probably the best solution to provide balanced training for engineering students".
The Hong Kong Polytechnic was granted a full university status to become The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in 1994. It was in the same year the University, as a mean to improve the overall quality of its programme, repositioned IC to make it one of the central servicing departments. Apart from providing learning activities, IC also supported other faculties and departments by offering a diverse range of services. The University believed that having a qualitative IC and practical training is one of its six competitive advantages.
The "Learning Factory" concept won the Centre supports, donations and recognition from industry and professional bodies. Large amount of equipment donation and consignment were obtained and a number of accredited, authorized and joint training centre were established which greatly enhanced the strength of IC. During this stage, IC also vigorously established links with other institutions and departments. In collaboration with the University of Western Sydney, IC pioneered Hong Kong's first-ever Postgraduate Scheme in Occupational Safety & Health (POSH).
Building on the success of the "Learning Factory" concept, IC further introduced the "New Learning Factory" concept since 2001. IC's "Training for Creativity and Innovation by Product and Process Design - A New Learning Factory" in collaboration with the School of Design (SD) became one of the four Areas of Strategic Development (ASD) of PolyU and subsequently, became the University's first Areas of Strength (AoS). The "New Learning Factory" highly emphasized the reinforcement, enhancement and nurture of student's professional knowledge, capability, thinking, all-round development, industrial and social perspective as well as creativity and innovation via all kinds of hands-on learning and learning activities delivered in a multi-disciplinary environment to produce "practical dreamers" for the 21st Century. Hands-on learning is the core activity and philosophy of IC. It offers a stimulating and inspirational educational experience for students. It ties theory and exciting hands-on experimenting activities which enables students to learn and explore engineering knowledge. Examples of hands-on learning activities include engineering hands-on practice, integrated engineering projects, work-integrated manufacturing projects and engineering project competitions.
The success of the POSH encouraged IC to seek more collaboration opportunities. Locally, IC collaborates with PolyU departments to offer different academic programmes, including BSc (Hons) in Environmental and Occupational Safety & Health (EOSH) and HD in Product Innovation Technologies (PIT). It also joined hands with Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) & European Union to offer an International Master in Entrepreneurship & Innovation. In addition to programmes leading to academic awards jointly collaborated with other academic departments and institutions, IC also shares its expertise with the community by offering many professional development and continuing education courses under PolyU's School of Professional Education & Executive Development (SPEED), including professional technical skills upgrading course for companies specialised in engineering, aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), infrastructure building and energy supply. IC is an approved training centre of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE) Graduate Scheme A Training and therefore its hands-on learning activities are recognized as part of the HKIE Graduate Scheme A Training. In response to the increasing need for development of modern industrial engineering education in Mainland China, IC also provides tailor-made programmes for Mainland institutions. Institutions from different provinces and cities have been sending their senior officials and teachers to undertake train-the-trainer programme at IC. In fact, IC has established close relationship with universities in Mainland China since 1980's. Over 40 industrial training centres in Mainland China were modelled after IC.
Capitalizing on its multidisciplinary technologies and equipment, IC also provides research and incubation support to students and researchers. Many students have made the best use of our facilities to pursue and realize their engineering innovations, research or even business ideas. Likewise you will also find academics and researchers making use of IC's facilities and expertise in pursuing and realizing their R&D projects and scholarly activities. Successful cases include Camera Pointing System (CPS) for Chang'e-3 Lunar Probe and Soil Preparation System (SOPSYS) for Phobos-Grunt Mission in collaboration with PolyU ISE, Novel Brain Training Device for Stroke Patient in collaboration with PolyU BME, 3D Printed Surgical Guides in collaboration with local medical schools and hospitals. IC also extended its engineering support to the industry and the community. Some of the examples include Air Traffic Control Console Improvement Study in collaboration with HKSAR Civil Aviation Department (CAD), Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in collaboration with HKSAR Environmental Protection Department (EPD), Mobile Detrainment Ladder for MTR and Novel Multiple-axis Machining of Turbine Blades in collaboration with Hong Kong Aero Engine Services Limited (HAESL).
IC has long established various collaborations with local industrial companies in such areas as infrastructure, energy and aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) for the past many years. In 2012 IC has established Hong Kong's first Aviation Services Research Centre (ASRC) in collaboration with giant aerospace company, Boeing. Phase one facilities are now in full operation. It works intimately with Boeing and local MROs in implementations of advanced MRO technologies and methodologies. Those implementations will be new to MRO industry and have the potential to drastically improve quality, throughput and efficiency, not only in Hong Kong but throughout the aviation industry.
To promote and support the development of aviation & MRO services industry in Hong Kong, IC has recently offered a Higher Diploma in Aircraft Services Engineering (HD in ASE) in collaboration with Hong Kong Community College (HKCC) with first cohort in 2015/16.