Dr Alex Chong, Mechanical Engineering Programme Director, University of Birmingham Dubai

Dr Alex Chong

What got you interested in the subject area of Mechanical Engineering?

I have always been curious about how things work, particularly with the wonderful mechanical inventions around us since school. Now as a seasoned Mechanical Engineer, I very often ask myself these following questions;

  • How were the ideas for their existence conceived?
  • What are their fundamental working principles?
  • How were they designed, built, the choice of materials used, how much resources and effort went into it?
  • How are they maintained during their service life so that they function safely and what happens after?

The subject area of Mechanical engineering in my view embodies all these key aspects of study and much more, governing the creation, production, operation and maintenance of the myriad of mechanical assembly, devices, products and the resulting services that enrich our lives.

Who do you admire within your field, and why?

So many of them, but the notable ones through the ages to my mind are Archimedes, Leonardo Da Vinci, James Watt, Nikolaus Otto, the Wright brothers and Frank Whittle.

They were brilliant inventors and engineers who provided us with the ideas, working concepts based upon sound scientific principles, and ultimately gave us these marvellous inventions that changed the way we live from understanding how metal ships float, principles of mechanical advantage, the creation of the steam engine which sparked the industrial revolution, birth of the modern internal combustion engine and into the current age of powered flight using jet engines.

What do you think is the future for Mechanical Engineering

I think the quest of our civilisation for sustainable, practical, safe and cost effective solutions is insatiable as we continue to evolve as a species in order to secure a better future with the finite resources that our planet provides. In my view, Mechanical engineering, and in fact engineering for that matter, is an integral part of this body of solutions.

Some of the examples which I can draw from my applied research work in industry is the reduction of the carbon footprint in the production of electrical energy, heat treatment of steel and primary glass melting, finding ways of detecting damage in light weight but brittle composite material for use on aircraft and more recently with the Welsh Centre of Excellence for Anaerobic Digestion in the production of renewable energy using biological means.

What are you looking forward to most about the campus in Dubai?

Welcoming my first cohort of students with my fellow colleagues and guiding them on a rewarding journey of learning, development and self-discovery with the University of Birmingham Dubai, one of the leading Universities in the world.

More about Alex Chong:

  • Dr Chong was a British Chevening Scholar who completed his BEng with First class honours and PhD, both in Mechanical Engineering from what was the University of Glamorgan in 1993 and 1999 respectively. His PhD was in the monitoring and control of combustion process and the research programme was funded by the British Coal Utilisation Research Association. Based upon his PhD work, he was subsequently awarded with a Portuguese Doctorate equivalence from the Universidade da Beira Interior, Portugal in 2000.
  • Prior to joining the University of Birmingham, he was formerly the Head of Aeronautical Engineering at the University of South Wales for 10 years where he established a successful set of aircraft and aeronautical engineering courses in collaboration with British Airways Engineering and GE Aviation Wales. He also led and secured two consecutive rounds of accreditation approval from the UK RAeS (Royal Aeronautical Society) and the IMechE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers) for the aeronautical set of courses.
  • On the research front, Dr. Chong has over 19 years of involvement in primarily energy based research with the UK and European industries. His research outputs to date include £2.5M of joint research income, 46 papers (21 journal publications) including a book chapter, a patent and the successful supervision of 6 PhD graduates and 5 post-docs. His research portfolio also includes the development of non-invasive technique using acoustic emission (AE) technology for the measurement of 2-phase flow for pulverised coal distribution, structural health monitoring and non-destructive-evaluation of damage in high-strength composite plate using AE technology against 3D laser measurement validation.
  • Dr. Chong has over 20 years of HE teaching experience on a range of Mechanical Engineering modules in 4 countries including Malaysia, Portugal, China and United Kingdom where he has resided for the last 15 years with his wife and 2 children. Having enjoyed the Welsh weather for a significant period of time, the Chong family look forward to the move to the vibrant city of Dubai.
  • Research Gate Link - https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Alex_Chong2