CityU scholar earns major mainland honour for education research

Yvonne Lee

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​A two-time winner of City University of Hong Kong (CityU)’s Teaching Excellence Award has received yet another prestigious honour for his education research project on curriculum design that helps to stimulate students’ creativity and develop their entrepreneurship skills.
Dr Sun Hongyi
, Associate Professor in the Department of Systems Engineering and Engineering Management, received first prize in innovation and entrepreneurship education research presented by the China Association of Higher Education under the Ministry of Education. This award which was set up this year recognises his efforts in researching and developing a unique curriculum for teaching innovation and entrepreneurship, and designing the corresponding teaching and assessment framework.
The curriculum designed by Dr Sun, the only scholar outside mainland China to receive this award, systematically guides students through the whole product development process instead of focusing on a particular stage, stimulating students’ creativity as well as developing their entrepreneurship skills.
Dr Sun’s comprehensive curriculum is a good fit with the needs of the Ministry of Education, which has been promoting innovation and entrepreneurship education in all tertiary institutions in mainland China.
A symposium cum workshop on Dr Sun’s curriculum will be jointly organised by CityU and China Association of Higher Education in December 2013 for educators from tertiary institutions in mainland China.
“Almost all models for teaching innovation start with idea generation,” said Dr Sun. “Many idea-generation methods have been invented, yet experience and research have shown that it is still difficult for young students to generate new ideas. Even when they do, their ideas rarely make it into the market, because the entire process from idea generation to market entry is very rarely taught and practised,” Dr Sun said.
His step-by-step PIPE model allows students to learn actively in a self-directed way along the process from Problem discovery, Idea generation, Product proposal to Enterprise plan. Students are encouraged to discover problems in daily life, explore creative solutions, transform ideas into products and develop a business plan for the market. This model is now taught in Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Young Professionals, which is a Gateway Education course at CityU.
Dr Sun was amazed by his students’ creativity and enthusiasm in the course. “Students are smart and creative. They are able to discover many problems in daily life and come up with innovative solutions,” Dr Sun said.  One of the examples cited was creating a hassle-free milk machine. Working like a coffee machine, it can adjust the right amount of milk powder and water and set the right temperature, too, a product that would be much appreciated by parents who have to prepare milk for babies who wake up hungry in the middle of the night.  
The China Association of Higher Education, which is administered by the Ministry of Education, was formed by a group of higher education professionals and tertiary institutions in the mainland. It is a well-respected academic organisation with a mission to improve and develop higher education.


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