Tsz Hin Wilson Chan
MSc Railway Systems Engineering and Integration, 2020
Graduate Engineer – Rail/Rail System, Ove Arup and Partners Hong Kong
I am now a Graduate Railway Civil and Systems Engineer working on railway station and depot design projects. I have been involved in the scheme design and detailed design of a railway station and a railway depot in Hong Kong under the civil and structural engineering design team. I have also been working as a Systems Engineer to help review a safety management system of railway operations through understanding different railway systems interfaces and requirements to achieve and maintain a safe operating environment for the railway industry.
What is the best thing about what you are doing now?
I have been working on a railway depot redevelopment and a railway station project recently in Hong Kong, which provides opportunities to develop my knowledge of railway systems further. It is a challenging project as there are several interfaces with the surrounding infrastructure development, as well as the operating railway. Unlike other parts of the world, we cannot completely shut down the operation of the depot or the mainline. The whole railway needs to maintain its daily operation whilst construction is taking place. Therefore, it is important to identify the site constraints and all interfaces thoroughly during the design stage in order to ensure everything goes smoothly when it comes to the construction stage. The project is still ongoing, and it is my pleasure to be part of the design team.
What made you interested in your current role?
My current role has offered me a nice environment to become a competent railway engineer in both areas of systems engineering and civil and structural engineering.
What skills you learned from degree or time at university would you say you use most in your job?
Railway system requires to have a ‘big picture thinking’ as it is complicated and complex in nature. There are so many interfaces and subsystems which we cannot ignore when getting involved in any railway project, whether it is a relatively small scale one such as overhead line relocation or a larger scale, such as railway stations or railway depot development. Also, it is important to understand the requirements of the project by adopting the v-lifecycle model.
Why did you originally apply to Birmingham?
The University of Birmingham has one of the greatest railway research and education centres in the world. I believed it would be the best place to study and enhance my knowledge in railway systems engineering after my graduation with my first degree in civil engineering.
What are your fondest memories of the University?
BCRRE (Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education) is definitely a nice place to study railway systems. Not only having a nice team of caring and knowledgeable teaching staff and professors, but also having opportunities to study with people from the industry and from other parts of the world. To make good use of this diversity, we were encouraged to interact more and to exchange ideas during the lecture or after-class activities. We are still having a nice relationship after our graduation.
How did your time at university help you start your career?
The University provided me with an opportunity to widen my horizon and make me a better person. We were encouraged to think out of the box, not to limit ourselves with what we have nowadays but to imagine how the future could be. Like railway systems, it should not be 'future-proof' but should be 'future-ready'. My time at university helped me try to make myself to be more adaptive and self-motivated when I started my career as an engineer.
What advice would you give to current rail students?
If you are studying MSc in Railway Systems Engineering and Integration, please enjoy your time there and try to reach out to other people from the course whenever and wherever possible. You will then find it very enjoyable and gain more than you have ever thought when it comes to the end of your journey at the University of Birmingham.
Wilson's reflection on his time at university
“My study at the University of Birmingham has helped me to have a solid foundation in the area where my career begins. Railway system is a complex and complicated system with numerous interfaces between its own subsystems and other external environments.”