HKUST teacher wins 2021 UGC teaching award


Professor Rhea Patricia LIEM, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), today received the 2021 University Grants Committee (UGC) Teaching Award in the early-career faculty member category, in recognition of their dedication and outstanding teaching performance.

University Grants Committee (UGC) Chair Mr. Carlson TONG (right) presents the UGC Teaching Award 2021 for Early Career Faculty Members to Professor Rhea LIEM.

HKUST President Prof. Wei SHYY congratulated Prof. Liem on winning the award: “Rhea is a very talented, creative and dedicated academic. Her passionate teaching style and her many interactions with students made her not only popular, but also highly respected. HKUST is very proud to have young and passionate teachers like Rhea, who teach, mentor and support our students. We warmly congratulate her on her accomplishments.

Prof Liem said during the award ceremony that she was extremely touched by the recognition of UGC. “I teach aerospace engineering at HKUST, a subject that many consider complex and difficult. However, I can help my students enjoy learning. I pay great attention to effective presentation to help convey course content to students. My teaching styles emphasize rationality and reasoning, which I believe are the key essences of university teaching. During this time, students always have a say in my class and I involve them in the process, to build a sense of belonging and help them become more active and enthusiastic learners.

“In the future, this award will allow me to develop a new experiential learning course called Student Innovations for Engineering and Science Teaching Aids (SIESTA), where students will design and develop demonstration kits. elementary and high school science or practical STEM learning toys. schoolchildren, including disadvantaged children in Hong Kong and developing countries, ”she added.

As the aviation industry has taken on its biggest challenge in decades due to the pandemic, Professor Liem said there are still plenty of opportunities and encourages his students to look beyond traditional aviation jobs. such as pilots, maintenance or aeronautical engineers in “ancillary” industries such as artificial intelligence and Internet of Things for aeronautical applications, inspection technology and cargo management, leasing , finance, aviation laws or the supply chain. “Many airports and airlines are using this ‘downtime’ to improve operational efficiency and the passenger experience, which would not have been possible when air traffic was extremely busy. I myself am working with industry and government to develop new methods and algorithms to improve the overall efficiency of air traffic by optimizing the coordination of the routes of arriving planes, so the prospect is not so grim. She said.

Professor Liem was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, until she graduated from high school at Santa Ursula Catholic Girl School. The motto of the Ursuline school (Serviam or “I will serve”) and the teaching philosophy really influenced the development of its pedagogies and teaching values. She studied Mechanical and Production Engineering at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and obtained her Masters in Computing for Design and Optimization and Aeronautics / Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After that, she obtained a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Toronto. She joined HKUST in 2015, where she teaches two courses “Introduction to Aerospace Engineering” and “Aircraft Design” which were both founded by her.

Professor Liem was one of the first recruits to the aerospace engineering program. In addition to developing the new courses from scratch, she has also supervised students under the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), and one of her students won the First Research Award. cycle in 2020. She believes the learning process should start with the students themselves, so she allows students to choose their own topics for the essay, as part of their self-study experience. His contributions to teaching earned him the HKUST Engineering Teaching Excellence Appreciation Award for 2017-2018.

Professor Liem is also dedicated to promoting STEM education and aerospace engineering knowledge to young learners. She was appointed advisor to the Hong Kong Aerospace Leaders Association, where she advises on curriculum development and overall program planning for workshops and courses, including those for teachers and “adult leaders” who were co-organized between the association and various secondary schools. schools. She is also an advisor for the publication of the “Learning STEM with Aviation” manual for secondary schools in the city.

About Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) ( is a world-class research-intensive university that focuses on science, technology and business as well as the humanities and social. HKUST offers an international campus and holistic, interdisciplinary pedagogy to produce well-rounded graduates with a global vision, strong entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking. HKUST achieved the highest proportion of excellent international research work in the 2014 Hong Kong University Grants Committee Research Assessment Exercise, and is ranked as the world’s best young university in the ranking of Young Universities 2020 from Times Higher Education. Its graduates were ranked 26th in the world and among the best universities in Asia in the Global University Employability Survey 2020.

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