Synergistic Innovation Scheme: My first lesson in applied research

Li Chun-ip, Year 2 student of BSc (Hons) Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management

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I joined the Synergistic Innovation Scheme, organised by the Faculty of Science and Engineering of City University of Hong Kong (CityU), last year. I formed a group with Heung Ka-wai and Fok Ho-ki in my department and Wong Chi-fai from the Department of Electronic Engineering. It turned out to be a wonderful and rewarding experience.

Our entry was an interchangeable optical sunglass in which the transparency of the lens could be adjusted by electricity or chemical effects. The idea of this project emerged when I took my lectures in ergonomics at CityU, and I felt very happy to have three classmates join me as a group to work together on the project.

I believe people who have a passion for invention will want to build their own product by taking part in all stages, from research and development to production. The Synergistic Innovation Scheme provided a very good opportunity for us to fulfill our aspiration of producing our own invention with the assistance of the Faculty.

To take part in the scheme, we needed first to form a group and propose creative scientific ideas that could be applied to real-world situations. With only limited guidance from the Faculty, we needed to work independently to solve problems as they arose. The Scheme consisted of three stages, with different levels of support provided. After the first stage of research, the development value of our proposed project would need to be assessed and confirmed by a panel of adjudicators composed of local industrialists and academics from the Faculty before we could proceed to the next stage.

In the first stage, our major work was to collect information and understand the characteristics of different materials. The information was rather new to me and my groupmates as it was outside our major studies. We have learnt a great deal of material science in this task.

The Scheme also enhanced our studies and ability to work as a team. The scheme provided opportunities for us to meet professionals in the industry. From them we learnt about the latest technologies in the market. This helped expand our vision.

We are very happy that our project can proceed to stage 2. We will work hard to make major improvements in this stage and try our best to demonstrate the transparency adjustment effect of sunglasses.

Editor’s note: A new round of the Synergistic Innovation Scheme is open for application until 31 January 2008. For details, please visit


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