Centenary recognition of HKU Mechanical Engineering degree by IMechE


Mr Terry Spall, President-elect of IMechE (left) presents to Professor Alfonso Ngan, Head of the Department of the Mechanical Engineering of HKU (right) a commemorating certificate and

Mr Terry Spall, President-elect of IMechE (left) presents to Professor Alfonso Ngan, Head of the Department of the Mechanical Engineering of HKU (right) a commemorating certificate and “An Engineering Archive” by IMechE about the historical engineering works

This year marks the centenary of professional recognition of the Mechanical Engineering Bachelor degree programme of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) by the Institute of Mechanical Engineer (IMechE) of UK since 1918. The Institution is licensed by the Engineering Council to accredit academic programmes and professional development schemes. The IMechE recognition of the ME programme back in 1918 was the first of its kind in Hong Kong and China, and one of the first even in the wiorld. It was a very important, albeit rather unknown, monument for engineering education in our part of the world.

Professor Alfonso Ngan, Head of the Department of the Mechanical Engineering of HKU, met Mr Terry Spall, President-elect of IMechE, in Hong Kong on November 4, 2019, to celebrate this important centennial event. During the meeting, Mr Spall presented a certificate commemorating the milestone and a book “An Engineering Archive” to the Department.

Professor Ngan had conducted a research and written a paper related to the history and development of the earliest professional engineering education in Hong Kong. In this “treasure hunting” exercise, he discovered that the first attempt in applying for the degree exemption was declined.

“Professor Cades Alfred Middleton-Smith, the first dean of HKU Engineering, was an associate member of IMechE. He had been appointed as Dean of Engineering of the newly opened University of Hong Kong in 1912 and introduced the systems of honours classification and professional recognition a century ago. Under his leadership, we made the first application to IMechE to seek recognition of HKU’s Mechanical Engineering degree in 1916,” said Professor Ngan.

“However, that application from HKU, for their matriculation examination to be included in the list of the examinations exempting from the graduateship examination of IMechE, was declined. A year later in 1917, Professor Middleton-Smith made a renewed application. The mechanical degree was eventually recognised as exempted from IMechE exams in 1918. This served as the starting point of our long-lasting relationship with IMechE,” Professor Ngan illustrated.

The interruption of war in 1941 slowed down the progress. Full accreditation was once again given to our mechanical engineering degree by IMechE in June 1962. This piece of interesting history could be found in an article which was published in the February issue of Hong Kong Institution of Engineers (HKIE)’s magazine “Hong Kong Engineer” in 2018.

The status of the IMechE accreditation remained until 1997, when the role of the professional accreditation in Hong Kong was taken over by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers. Currently, HKU Mechanical Engineering has more than 4,000 graduates with Bachelor degree that have full recognition by IMechE.

“We treasure this centenary recognition greatly. At HKU, we always thrive to provide qualified engineering education to students and it is our mission to nurture the future leaders in the field of engineering for making an impact to the society and the world.” Professor Ngan concluded.

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