Malaysia Campus

Faculty of Engineering Editorial Desk (FEED)

Interview with the Dean: Andy Chan

2016-08-16_andychan2016-08-16. Student Journalists, Sadaf Hemmati and Farhana Rahimi caught up with Professor Andy Chan to discuss about his new role as the Dean of Engineering. Photographs by Mohammad Asad Tariq.

The voice of Andy Chan, a professor of fluid dynamics and pollution at Nottingham University, bursts with enthusiasm as he talks about his aim to improve, modernise campus life as well as ameliorating the teaching and learning environment.

“As a faculty, we are missing a form of channel in informing the public what we strive for. Therefore, I initiated a plan to start up a channel, a news feed of some sort with the help of JG Khor (Associate Dean for External Affairs) to further broadcast student events, awards as well as academic news.”

Professor Andy Chan graduated from Hong Kong. After acquiring his post-doc from Oxford, he returned to Hong Kong to teach.  In 2005, the National Centre of Atmospheric Research employed him as a scientist to lead a team in developing computational codes for understanding the rapid spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in urban areas. In 2006, Prof Andy applied to work for University of Nottingham, where he rose through the ranks and has recently been appointed the Dean of Engineering. His current primary area of research is understanding haze in collaboration with The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) whereby he will be chairing the upcoming 7-SEAS conference. Even though Prof Chan graduated with a mechanical engineering degree, he went on to pursue research in fluid mechanics and environmental engineering. He obtained his chartership from the American Society of Civil Engineering(ASCE).

On Lecturing

For Prof Chan, it is important to continue teaching. It is one of the things he enjoys doing. He feels that by being the Dean, administrative work can detach you from the academic side, hence losing sight of things. His plans are to teach modules such as air pollution for the first semester and coastal engineering for the second semester of the upcoming academic year.

On being the Dean

When asked about how he became appointed as the Dean of Engineering, Prof Chan said it was not something he wanted to apply for at the beginning. As time passed, the plans he had to modernise and improve the faculty in terms of teaching, administration, operation and research fuelled him to apply for the position. He was selected to take on the post as the university was convinced with his abilities and ideas.

On future plans

The biggest issue in the engineering faculty is the student learning experience. This is indicated by student feedback from the SET and SEM forms. However, Prof Chan’s concerns are not about the score or the matrix of the SET and SEM system. His main ideas are not to succumb to all students’ needs and expectations but to care about the students and let them be heard. He believes the bond between lecturers and students should be more than just going to classes for the students and lecturing for the lecturers.

 Prof Chan: “To be honest, I don’t remember the lectures I went to and what were taught. However, I remember the lecturers who were good to me, not just in terms of teaching but in other aspects of life as well.”

Describing the current student-staff relationship as poor, he would like to see more interaction between member of staff and students. Being a fairly good lecturer not because of how much he knows but because of how approachable he is, Prof Chan aims to close the gap between academic staffs and their students in order to improve student learning and teaching quality. As for the worries about boundary of respect between staff and students, Prof Chan’s wise words are:

“Respect is not given, it is earned. You respect me because of what I do and not because of who I am.”

As for research, the idea is to cluster the different areas (Aerospace, Environmental, Materials) into big projects that the university can be proud of. The aim is to brand UNMC as a nationally renowned university or as key player in multiple research areas.

On future challenges

Aside from being careful and prudent in spending, the next biggest challenge would be to change the morale and the work environment in the university. The operations of the faculty right now can be much more efficient. The best example is the attendance registry where students are required to sign them and the clerks are expected to key them in one by one. Prof Chan has come up with a trial app that allows students to key in their identification numbers and it goes straight into the system. This effort will definitely save time and staff’s workload hence increasing efficiency of operations.

 Prof Chan: “Being the new Dean means giving up time on research, but it is part of the job and I accept it in effort to make other things exceptional.”

Here are a few random words given to Prof Chan and what he has to say about them

Message to UNMC

 Prof Chan: “I hope we would be more engaged with each other. There are a lot of materials that could be used to connect back to alumni, student body. Efficiently running student bulletins are great mediums to advertise university and increase our credibility. Thank you.”

by on Monday, 19 September 2016
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