Taking Knowledge & Experience into the Real World
Supporting research is not just about developing groundbreaking systems and products, but also inspiring and assisting young engineers to reach their full potential.
Praveen Balaj Balakrishnan
(2nd from left) Di Wu visited the production plant of Ford in Thailand with the other Ford-HKUST Grant recipients in 2015
From learning about real-life scenarios to having a major impact on one’s life – these are the experiences of recipients of the Ford-HKUST Conservation and Environmental Research Grants program. Praveen Balaj Balakrishnan joined the program in its debut year of 2013/14 and Di Wu was a member the following year; both have taken the knowledge and confidence they gained into the world of engineering.

Fascinated by automobiles since he was a boy, mechanical engineering was a natural direction for Praveen. After gaining a bachelor degree in India and two years working for Chrysler, he renewed his studies, and chose HKUST for its world-class research facilities. He was accepted as part of the Ford program that offers grants to postgraduate students from the School of Engineering for research in the fields of environmental and conservation science.

His project focused on creating an alternative air-conditioning system powered by waste exhaust heat. “[The experience] helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses,” says Praveen. “It also gave me wider exposure to the industry as I got to meet Ford’s CEO and other senior executives.” He has since joined Ford India as a stamping feasibility engineer. “The Ford-HKUST research grant opening has had a major impact on my life and I hope it can continue to nurture more young engineers at HKUST and help them spread their wings,” he says.

Di Wu is a rarity – a female in the male-dominated world of engineering. She believes that women have much to contribute to engineering. Her project as part of the Ford program involved applying nanofluids originally intended for industrial usage into automobile engine cooling system. “Thanks to Ford, I learned more about real-world scenarios, and made my research project more practical and measurable,” she says Wu. “I deepened my understanding of experimental research skills and furthered my problem-solving skills.” She is now a mechanical engineer at Kovan Systems in Shenzhen, which has ambitions to export China’s technologies across the globe.

Praveen Balaj Balakrishnan
(2nd from left) Di Wu visited the production plant of Ford in Thailand with the other Ford-HKUST Grant recipients in 2015

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