Project Mingde was first initiated by an alumnus of the Department of Civil Engineering, Professor Nicolas S.Y. Yeung and his wife, Lorene, in 2003, trying to help relieve the education problems of ethnic minority children in remote mountainous Guangxi Province and at the same time providing Civil Engineering students a valuable opportunity to work on real-world on-going projects. Deeply moved and impressed by Professor Yeung’s beliefs, a group of dedicated alumni and teaching staff of the Department, especially the Head of the Department then, Professor Peter K.K. Lee, devoted tremendous efforts in making Project Mingde a success.

The first Project was the Mingde Building (明德樓), a primary school in Xiali Village, Guangxi Province. The second project was Gewu Building (格物樓), a student dormitory for the Rong Shui Vocational Training School, also in Guangxi Province. The third project, a kindergarten in Chongzhou (崇州幼兒園), Sichuan Province, was just completed in 2011. Civil Engineering students were engaged in every aspect from interviewing local villagers to understand their needs, carrying out site surveys, construction design, contract negotiation, and performing site supervision to overall project management.

bannerFrom left: Professor L.G. Tham, Dr. D.J. Guo, Professor Peter K.K. Lee, Professor Albert K.H. Kwan, Dr. Ray K.L. Su, and Dr. Y.P. Huang

To students, this kind of hands-on learning is challenging, rich in excitement and high in satisfaction. The authenticity of the experience has a maturing effect that prompts them to re-think what they consider as professional values as engineers and personal attitudes as human beings. In 2010, the collaborative effort and achievement of Project Mingde in the past 6 years was recognised and the team received the HKU Outstanding Teaching Award – Team Award. The winning team, led by Professor Peter K.K. Lee (right three), consists of the following members: Professor L.G. Tham, Dr. D.J. Guo, Professor Albert K.H. Kwan, Dr. Ray K.L. Su, and Dr. Y.P. Huang (from right to left).