Graduate credits University for ‘shining a light’ on his laser engineering success

Posted on 22nd March 2018

A graduate from the University of Chester - who has become the first MPhil student to graduate from its Faculty of Science and Engineering – credits the University with enabling him to achieve outstanding research success in the field of laser engineering.

Chi Ho Ng
Chi Ho Ng

Fired up by his passion and enthusiasm for engineering research, Chi Ho Ng arrived at the University’s Thornton Science Park from his home of Hong Kong.

He explained: “The University of Chester is one of the oldest higher education institutions in the UK. Also, I know that Thornton Science Park is a major research and innovation hub for the North West, and it is formerly the site of the Shell Research and Technology Centre. As a research student at Thornton Science Park, I was assured that I would get enormous support from the experienced academic staff and I knew that I would be in a place of high quality cutting edge research.”

Chi Ho’s enthusiasm for his subject also helped to inspire and motivate him to overcome his initial language barrier. He proactively sought support from his supervisory team, and joined the regular worship and weekly service in the University Chapel (on the Parkgate Road Campus in Chester).

He added: “The gathering in the beautifully refurbished Victorian Chapel varies from week to week in style, which offered a great chance for me to meet new friends and practice my English more. I would like to offer my gratitude to Reverend Canon Dr Peter Jenner who organised so many meaningful activities for students, let me know about British culture, as well as offering me a warm welcome at the University of Chester. It provided me with an extra channel to assimilate into University life, and to be a part of the University.”

Through hard work and determination, Chi Ho quickly got his English on track and was able to get the most out of his studies.

His MPhil research was on laser processing materials. Due to the high demand of total joint replacement (TJR) surgery (the surgical replacement of a joint or joint surface with a prosthesis), and revision surgeries in the UK, Chi Ho’s studies investigated how applying laser technology could improve the friction, lubrication and wear of biomaterials (eg alloys and polymers). These are used in the femoral head (the head of the femur) of a hip implant.

Working with a variety of experts across different departments within the Faculty of Science and Engineering to conduct his advanced research, Chi Ho quickly began to shine. After only half a year at the University, he contributed his first oral presentation about his research in Atlanta, America, at the largest conference for laser applications and safety (the International Congress on Applications of Lasers and Electro-Optics (ICALEO)). His presentation and the research outcome was published in the Journal of Laser Applications (his first journal publication at Chester) and he was awarded the C R Barber Trust Fund by the Institute of Physics (IOP) to support his conference expenses.

His diligence and resilience helped him to move forward to more success in his research.

He was the only UK candidate to present his research, with a travel bursary, at the ‘Journey through Science Day’, an event hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) and PepsiCo at the Academy’s headquarters in New York City. He was also the first student in his Faculty to be rewarded with a year of visiting research associateship at Queen’s University Belfast and, with Professor Graham Smith, the Associate Dean for Science and Engineering, he was involved in an international collaboration between the University of Chester, Queen’s University Belfast, the Technical University of Denmark and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, with one journal publication (in Applied Surface Science) as an outcome.

More success came for Chi Ho when, before the completion of his MPhil degree, he was selected to present his research in the area of wear performance of biomaterials at the IOP Tribology Group – Winter Tribology Fair. Chi Ho was presenting among University students from across the UK, including Imperial College London, and the University of Warwick, and came away from the event with his first Best Poster Presentation Prize.

Not only has Chi Ho been an exceptional student, he has also engaged in voluntary work. He is an associate member of the Institute of Mechanical Engineering (IMechE), where he has also been part of the volunteer team in the Merseyside and North Wales region. He volunteered at the Big Bang Fair North Wales to demonstrate the Mindstorm Rubic Cube solver for primary and secondary school students. He is also an associate member of the Institute of Physics (IOP,) which has enabled him to enrich his knowledge and skill in interacting with different audiences in the UK.

Chi Ho said: “The famous Irish literary playwright and essayist George Bernard Shaw said: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” This quote has encouraged me to get outside my comfort zone and start my new life in a new country (the UK) where I’ve never been before.”

He now plans to go home to Hong Kong and share his knowledge: “I hope to find a job related to laser engineering, to try to utilise the knowledge which I learnt at Chester, to continue making a contribution in laser industry and society. I hope my story at Chester, and my research outcome, can attract Chinese students to come here and be a research student in the field of laser engineering, and inspire them that there are many possibilities for life and to try to take the first step to change your life without hesitation.

“Chester and the University is now my second home and family in my mind, as they have given me unlimited warmth and support, to continuously encourage me to achieve my goal and pursue what I want in the UK. The University has also provided a platform for me to showcase my research ability and potential in a competitive research environment, which has helped me to understand myself clearly throughout the MPhil study and to achieve a unique experience which I wouldn’t have had in Hong Kong.”

Chi Ho’s supervisor, Dr Yu Shi, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, added: “Chi Ho has been an excellent student and his outstanding record has helped him to complete the MPhil degree extremely successfully. He is not only a good researcher in the field of laser materials processing, but he is also a good citizen who contributes and helps society with his volunteering and engagement. We wish him every future success.”

Professor Graham Smith, Associate Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, added: “I am personally grateful to Chi Ho for initiating the collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast, as this is still ongoing, and has resulted in a number of high quality articles in well regarded journals.”