College of Engineering Students and Faculty to Spend Two Months in Hong Kong This Summer

Fourteen College of Engineering students are preparing for a two-month adventure in Hong Kong this summer. For the first time, University of Iowa engineering students are participating in a summer study abroad program at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST), a beautiful, English-speaking campus overlooking Clearwater Bay. 

Pre-departure orientation session for students studying in

Hong Kong this summer

“HKUST is a phenomenal campus where over 40 percent of the total student body are engineering students. It is also one of the top engineering schools in Asia and in the world,” says Zach Smith, Study Abroad Advisor and Program Coordinator. 

Athena Dinh, a chemical engineering student from Davenport, Iowa, chose to study in Hong Kong because she didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to learn about another culture. Athena noted, “I feel studying abroad is important because it gives you a new set of experiences, and it helps you relate to others. It makes you a more well-rounded person.” Taylor Young, civil engineering student from White Fish Bay, Wisconsin, says he decided to participate in the program because the culture and climate of Hong Kong is different from anything he has ever experienced. He explains, “On top of that, China has become a powerhouse in the industry and engineering world. As an engineer myself, I am excited to learn a new approach to engineering and increase my knowledge in the field.”

The summer study abroad experience at HKUST has attracted both American and international students. Jiawen Sun, a biomedical engineering student from Hangzhou, China, says of her motivation to study in Hong Kong, “Engineering is global. I hope to gain a global perspective and meet other engineering students from all over the world. I am also excited to represent the University of Iowa and show other students how proud I am to be a Hawkeye.” Qingyang Su, an electrical engineering student from Beijing, China, looks forward to sharing this study abroad experience with American students:  “As an international student in Iowa, American students help me a lot when I have difficulties. While mainland China is different from Hong Kong, I will have some familiarity with the culture and am excited to help my fellow University of Iowa students explore Hong Kong and explore delicious food locally.”

Students aren’t the only ones participating in this new experience. Professors Sarah Vigmostad (Biomedical Engineering) and H.S. Udaykumar (Mechanical Engineering) are both teaching a course at HKUST this summer, a first for the University of Iowa. Professor Vigmostad’s course is called Innovations in Medical Devices: Biology, Mechanics, and the Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease. Why study abroad in Hong Kong? She says, “There is so much happening in Asia right now. The globalization that is taking place in engineering is the result of developments in Asia more than anywhere else, and nearly all large companies have a branch in China or India. Hong Kong is such a vibrant city and a wonderful gateway to Asia.”

Professor Udaykumar will be teaching a course called Energy Systems in a Sustainable World. He feels international experiences are particularly important for engineering students:  “The engineering profession is now global; products may be designed in one part of the world, produced in another, and marketed and used in a different part. A global outlook including understanding different cultures and social attitudes is very important for the engineer of the 21st century. In addition, problems like climate change and environmental impacts are intrinsically global and can only be solved by the teamwork of engineers and researchers around the world. Study abroad should be an essential part of every engineering student’s education.”

For many students, study abroad is made possible through the generous contributions of donors to scholarship funds, including the Oskvig Global Engineering Scholarship and the Robert E. Moulds Global Engineering Scholarship. To help turn study abroad from a dream to reality for more University of Iowa engineering students, please contact Kate Metcalf,,  executive director of development, UI College of Engineering.