2016 – ASPIRE Forum

ASPIRE Forum 2016

Date: July 3-9, 2016

Venue: The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Theme: Developing Sustainable Urban Environment and Low Carbon Economy


July 3-9 Student Week/Workshop
July 6 Visit to KKUST Shenzhen Research Institute
July 7 9:00-12:20 ASPIRE Symposium
14:00-17:30 Vice Presidents and Staff Meeting

ASPIRE Forum 2016 Report


The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) hosted the ASPIRE Forum 2016 on 3 to 9 July, with the theme “Developing Sustainable Urban Environment and Low Carbon Economy.” Member universities were each represented by their Vice President, professors, administrators and students, totaling nearly 60 participants. This year’s Forum was organized in the same format as in previous years, and included the ASPIRE Symposium, the Vice Presidents and Senior Staff (VP-SS) Meeting and the Student Workshop.



ASPIRE Student Workshop

July 3-9, 2016

Twenty-four students from ASPIRE League member universities and five students from the IDEA League member universities — including 2 from TU Delft, 1 from ETH Zurich, 1 from RWTH Aachen University, and 1 from Politecnico di Milano — participated in this year’s ASPIRE Student Workshop. This increase in participation by IDEA League member universities compared to last year, in which only three students participated from two IDEA League member universities, was warmly welcomed.

Student Workshop participants were divided into five groups, with each group comprised of students from different universities. This grouping provided students the opportunity to learn, interact, and work with students from other cultures.

The Workshop is a week-long program of lectures, visits and group discussions combining aspects of sustainability, technology and innovation. By way of lectures delivered by HKUST professors and also external speakers, and visits to Hong Kong Science Park’s Green 18, the Energizing Kowloon East Office, and the Mai Po Nature Reserve, the students were introduced to concepts and technologies related to the theme of this year’s Forum.

Working in their respective groups, the students pooled their knowledge to develop innovative proposals for achieving a sustainable urban environment and low carbon economy. The proposals ranged from a framework for optimizing the environmental performance of buildings, to food waste management, to city planning to reduce energy consumption and introduce renewable energy, to the use of bicycles and floating houses as viable means to build up a sustainable Hong Kong. The proposals were presented to the vice presidents, who also served as judges, and other participants. The students worked well together, bridging cultural gaps to deliver presentations which were impressive, interesting and innovative. Supported by creative PowerPoint presentations, the groups delivered their presentations articulately and clearly.

In the spirit of competition and in recognition of best efforts, the winning teams were presented plaques for (1) Best Innovative Idea and (2) Best Group Presentation, while a student from NTU and another from RWTH Aachen were awarded plaques for Best Presenter.



Visit to HKUST Shenzhen Research Institute

July 6, 2016

Vice presidents, senior staff and symposium speakers were invited to visit the HKUST Shenzhen Research Institute (SRI), the University’s lead research platform in Mainland China, which spearheads significant research initiatives in the Mainland for HKUST. The group was introduced to the key research centers, laboratories and start-up enterprises operating at SRI.

The group also visited the Shenzhen Museum, the Qianhai E-hub, and the Civic Center in Futian District. Through the visits, the members gained a good and useful understanding of not only Shenzhen’s reform and economic development history, but also the government’s efforts to nurture young entrepreneurs and to develop the region into a commercial and cultural hub.



ASPIRE Symposium

July 7, 2016 (am)

Professor Joseph Lee, Chairperson of the ASPIRE League 2015-2016 and Vice-President for Research and Graduate Studies at HKUST, opened the ASPIRE Symposium with a warm welcome to all members and students. He introduced this year’s theme, “Developing Sustainable Urban Environment and Low Carbon Economy,” noting that the issues and risks that arise along with urbanization are global challenges.

In accordance with past practices, one faculty member from each member university was invited to speak on a topic related to this year’s theme. At the Symposium, speakers and participants discussed and exchanged ideas on various topics, including integrated LED technologies for micro-display and communications, organic/inorganic hybrid porous materials for energy and environment applications, sustainable environmental and water technologies, and architecture responsive to environment as demonstrated by the passive solar design in Tokyo Tech’s ‘Genso Cube.’

In addition, two Tokyo Tech professors presented the projects funded by the ASPIRE League Research Grant (Type 1) respectively in 2015 and 2016. The projects are conducted in collaboration with researchers from ASPIRE League universities.

The 29 students attending the ASPIRE Workshop were also invited to attend and participate in the symposium, thereby increasing their exposure to concepts and technologies related to sustainable urban environment and low carbon economy.



Vice Presidents and Senior Staff (VP-SS) Meeting

July 7, 2016 (pm)

photo_5_vpssm_1Following a welcome address by Chairperson Professor Lee, Mr. Toku Hirasawa of Tokyo Tech presented the ASPIRE League Secretariat’s report on the League’s activities for the period July 2015 to July 2016. He recapped the proceedings of the last VP-SS Meeting and highlighted the issues to be discussed at the 2016 meeting.The vice presidents reported on their respective university’s engagements and activities related to ASPIRE League. Members also discussed and made suggestions for the activities in the coming year, including ASPIRE Forum 2017, research collaborations, educational programs, and cooperation with the IDEA League.





The VP-SS meeting, symposium and student workshop were fruitful and effective, with ASPIRE League member universities sharing valuable input to steer the League’s activities for even greater engagement. Overall, the Forum ended on a very enthusiastic note, and students’ positive feedback on the Student Workshop showed that they too gained valuable experience and knowledge and built friendships across different nationalities and cultures.