First of Her Kind

First of Her Kind_HKUST Student Karen Leong_photo

HKUST female engineering graduate becomes the first Hong Kong recipient of ASME Arthur L Williston Medal

Determined to close the gap between current and environmentally sustainable practices, Karen Leong, 2016 graduate of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has been rewarded with a prestigious international engineering prize.

Karen is the first Hong Kong recipient—and one of the few female recipients in a 62-year history—of the annual Arthur L Williston Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Her winning submission was a paper entitled “Fuel Choice Regulation—The Way to Narrow the Gap Between Current IMO Marine Standard and 2025 Greenhouse Gas Emission Target”.

The prestigious medal goes to the student or recent graduate who submits the best paper in a specific area of civic service. Karen’s paper drew on her broad concern for the environment, explaining how the U.S. maritime sector could reduce carbon dioxide emissions with biodiesel, natural gas and nuclear power, taking into account environmental performance, technology maturity, supporting infrastructure and lifecycle cost.

“The engineering industry is mostly male-dominated, I hope the medal would help me gain broad recognition as a woman with a passion for environmental engineering”, Karen said.

Karen credited HKUST with fueling her passion by helping her understand how mechanical engineering relates to many parts of daily life. Setting a role model for other graduates like her, Karen encouraged them to pursue their career without gender boundary. “I remember that my parents have wondered if I can adapt to the engineering industry, but I think the environment become a more favorable level playing field for female engineers.”

“I think the biggest advantage female engineers have is that we are good at expressing ourselves and conveying ideas. This will be more than make up for the physical gifts we lack comparing to men,” Karen continued.

After an internship at a water treatment work company, Karen has now signed an employment contract and will soon turn her attention to water treatment in the real world.