Newsletter No. 127

2 No. 127 19th May 1998 CUHK Newsletter M o t o r o l a S u p p o r t s F r o n t i e r R e s e a r ch a t F a c u l t y o f E n g i n e e r i ng Prof. P.C. Ching (centre) receiving the donation from Mr. Stanley Wong (left 2), director of Strategy and Technology Management for the Asia Pacific Region of Mo t o r o l a , while Dr. Gongjiu Jin of Motorola (left 1 ), Prof. Cai Xiaoqiang (left 4 ), chair of systems engineering and engineering management, and Prof. Yan Houmin (left 5) look on. T he Faculty of Engineering recently received a donation of US$20,000 from the Motorola Foundation in support of semiconductor research conducted by the Department of Systems Engineering and Engineering Management. Dean of engineering Prof. P.C. Ching, who received the donation on behalf of his faculty at a ceremony held on 2nd April, said the faculty would continue to work with Motorola in finding optimal systems that improve production planning and scheduling in semiconductor manufacturing. Due to its complex production flow, stochastic environment, and rapidly changing technology, semiconductor wafer fabrication poses a great challenge to both academics and engineers. Researchers at the Department of Systems Engineering and Engineering Management have developed op t imi za t i on tools for dynamic production scheduling, some of which have been included by Mo t o r o la Semiconductors Asia and Pacific in its Back End Scheduling Tools, currently used by two plants in Hong Kong and other plants throughout the Asia Pacific region. Prior to such collaboration, the department succeeded in bu i l d i ng simulation models for Mo t o r o l a 's assembly and testing processes, which have been proven, amongst other things, to significantly reduce production cycle times. Motorola's funds to support research in this field used to be equally distributed among universities in Hong Kong. Since 1997, however, the Motorola Foundation decided to channel all its support into the Department of Systems Engineering and Engineering Management at CUHK. Shaw 10th Anniversary Symposium A s part of its 10th anniversary celebrations, Shaw College organized a symposium entitled 'Information Technology and Life' jointly w i t h the Faculty of Education, the Department of Information Engineering, and the Department of Decision Sciences andManagerial Economics on 17th April at the college's Lecture Theatre. The first session of the symposium, chaired by Prof. Chung Yue-ping, focused on the practice of information technology in Hong Kong schools, while the second gave a picture of the role information technology plays in industry. Participants included representatives f r om local secondary schools, the Education Department of the HKSAR, the British- American Tobacco Co. (HK) Ltd., the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, and CUHK faculty members. Between the sessions, Prof. Wong Po-choi of the Department of Information Engineering demonstrated new information technology applications, including the very popular 'Hong Kong School Net'. Internet Broadcast of Peking University's Centennial Celebrations T he University was invited by Peking University and China Central Television ( CCTV) to organize the Internet broadcast of the centennial celebration of Peking University. The Computer Services Centre of the University was responsible for transforming TV satellite signals from CCTV into digital video format for real time broadcast on the Internet. Internet users could view the celebrations through the University's website. The Grand Celebration Party held on Peking University campus on the evening of 4th May was broadcast live. Other celebration activities such as the 'Higher Education Forum: the University of the 21st Century' on 2nd and 3rd May could be viewed in the form of videos-on-demand. Also available on the Internet are the Centennial Celebration Conference held at the Great Hall of People, the inauguration of the new library building of Peking University, and the speeches of heads of universities delivered on the occasion, including that of Prof. Arthur K.C. Li. To Cater f or Research Interest in Comparative L i t e r a t u r e , Cultural Studies, and L i n g u i s t i c The study of linguistics, l i t e r a t u r e , and culture at the University will soon enjoy an added academic dimension with the establishment of new postgraduate programmes. Based in the Faculty of Ar t s , such programmes aremu l t i d i s c i p l i n a r y,offering M . P h i l . or Ph.D. degrees inl i ngu i s t i cs ,as well as comparative literature and cultural studies. In this issue, Prof. Wong Kin-yuen and Prof. Gladys Tang from the Department of English explain to the CUHK Newsletter the background for their introduction. In Step with a Wordwide Trend Before the creation of the programmes, postgraduate teaching and research in those areas were carried out in the Department of English. But as their scope and direction of development were not quite the same as those of the department, some teachers proposed the i n t r oduc t i on of new programmes independent of the department. The move reflects a worldwide trend for studies involving several disciplines. Prof. Wong Kin-yuen, coordinator of the new programmes, said, 'Between the major subjects at a university are often areas of knowledge that have been neglected. These have to be explored using an interdisciplinary approach. The delineation of disciplines is being reviewed wo r l dw i de, and what's happening at the Un i ve r s i ty is no different.' Prof. Gladys Tang, who specializes in linguistics studies, added, 'Linguistics is the root of many academic subjects, and knowledge of linguistics is useful to, for example, sociology, psychology, anthropology, translation, journalism and communication. Wh i le English linguistics w i ll continue to be a major focus of attention at the Department of English, linguistics studies involving other languages would surely benefit other departments. Students from other departments who show a concern for language studies will be able to pursue their research under the new programmes.' What's Being Compared There is often a misconception that in comparative studies only data or texts are compared. Comparative literary studies, for example, is often thought to be solely about comparing literary works from different traditions, say, Chinese and Indian poetry. But this is only part of comparative studies. Comparison is also made at a theoretical level of the applications of literary, cultural, or linguistic theories to texts or data, for instance, the application of western literary theory to Turkish novels, or linguistics theory derived from English data to Chinese dialects. Theory, in fact, is the focus of the new programmes as their proposers believe any vigorous research must be grounded in theory. I n the case of the linguistics programme, there is one more clarification to be made. Prof. Tang pointed out that the title 'Postgraduate Programmes in Comparative Studies in Linguistics, Literature, and Culture' can be misleading. 'I have received enquiries f r om potential applicants, who presumably have a conventional understanding of comparative studies, about whether they can still apply if they don't compare two languages. The answer is they can,' she said. Prof. Wong added, 'Yes, the title can cause a bit of confusion among linguistics students wishing to get into graduate studies. We may consider modifying it in the coining year. ‘ As long