【From Campus to Skyline: International Voices in NTUCE】(EP01) From Lisbon to Taipei: Navigating the Digital Frontier – A Portuguese Student’s Odyssey in Taiwanese Computer-Aided Design Education

Interviewee: SHYAN YOW CHIEN (簡祥祐)

Interviewer: Alejandro Fretes Estigarribia

Welcome back to the Newsletter of the Civil Engineering department at National Taiwan University, where we are excited to share insightful stories and experiences with our students, faculty members, and prospective students.

In the realms of global education and professional success, the stories of distinguished foreign civil engineers embarking on a transformative journey to Taiwan are nothing short of inspirational. This article explores the remarkable narrative of an ambitious individual who chose to pursue a specialization in the civil engineering department at National Taiwan University.

From navigating cultural transitions to contributing significantly to the field, this success story exemplifies the enriching experiences and accomplishments that unfold when driven individuals merge their aspirations with diverse educational landscapes. Join us as we delve into the tale of resilience, innovation, and academic triumph that underscores the global interconnectedness of civil engineering expertise. I am pleased to introduce you to an exceptional individual, Shyan Yow Chien.

Born in the picturesque country of Portugal to a Taiwanese family, Shyan’s cultural background has been a significant influence on his academic and personal pursuits. This multicultural exposure made him an open-minded, communicative, and adaptable person. His thirst for knowledge and wanting to study something that would allow him to make an impact in the world made him want to pursue an engineering career, but he was not sure about which one it would end up being.

The number of engineering majors seemed like an overwhelming labyrinth. With no clear inclination toward a specific field, the design aspect of civil engineering struck Shyan as an intriguing yet uncharted territory. Without the usual meticulous research or a predetermined passion for construction and infrastructure, he took the plunge, guided by a sense of adventure and a desire to explore the unknown. He chose to pursue his studies at the University of Manchester because, at the time, it stood out as the best university within his academic reach. Moreover, it is a prestigious in the United Kingdom.

As the semesters unfolded, civil engineering courses gradually unveiled a fascinating world of structural design, environmental impact assessments, and urban planning for him. What began as a leap of faith evolved into a genuine interest, and Shyan found unexpected joy in the meticulous calculations and problem-solving inherent to civil engineering.

Blindly choosing civil engineering, as it turns out, became a journey of self-discovery for Shyan. The discipline’s fusion of creativity and precision provided a perfect canvas for someone who had not initially envisioned themselves in that realm. Shyan learned to appreciate the significance of infrastructure in shaping societies, fostering sustainable development, and addressing critical global challenges.

Figure 1. Shyan’s Receiving His bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from University of Manchester.

Upon the completion of his undergraduate studies, Shyan returned to his roots in Portugal to reconnect with his family and take a well-deserved break. It was during this reflective period that he recognized an immense interest in Computer Aided Design, also known as CAD. Fascinated by the ability of CAD technology to bring intricate and sophisticated structures to life, Shyan resolved to start his studies in this specialization field.

The idea of studying at National Taiwan University became apparent to Shyan when he discovered the university’s robust offering of the Computer Aided Design specialization. Recognizing NTU as a hub for academic excellence and technological innovation, he embarked on this new chapter of his educational journey.

Studying at National Taiwan University was a transformative journey marked by growth, self-discovery, and, inevitably, several challenges for Shyan. From the exhilarating freshman year to the bittersweet farewell of graduation, he faced a spectrum of obstacles that contributed to his overall development. When asked about what some of his most difficult challenges were to face, he commented on academic pressure, time management, and the social aspect. Balancing coursework, assignments, and exams was overwhelming, especially as the complexity of subjects grew. There were a lot of sleepless nights and tight deadlines. Moreover, time management skills had to be on point. Students often find themselves pulled in various directions – academics, social life, extracurricular activities – and learning manage these activities effectively becomes an ongoing challenge, this can be done by creating a schedule, setting clear goals, and seeking support from peers. Lastly, the social aspect of college is one that will always be part of the university experience. For some, adjusting to a new social environment can be daunting. Building meaningful connections, combating homesickness, especially for foreign students, and forging a sense of belonging require intentional effort and courage. Peer pressure, relationship dynamics, and the quest for identity further contribute to the intricate tapestry of collegiate challenges.

He added that the challenges he faced in college helped him become a resilient, adaptable, and more resourceful individual which he thinks are invaluable life skills that help students to be ready to face the opportunities and uncertainties that lie beyond the campus gates. However, if he could only give one piece of advice to prospective National Taiwan University students is to avoid engaging in activities that do not align with one’s interests, as genuine enthusiasm is the most important thing when it comes to achieving exceptional results.

Figure 2. Shyan and his team are receiving a ‘Best Model Uses” award for a BIM project.

Moving into Shyan Yow Chien’s professional journey, his proudest moments stem from his involvement in the construction of data centers for prominent tech companies here in Taiwan. This intricate and high-tech undertaking underscores the dynamic nature of the civil engineering sector, where advancements in construction practices and the exploration of innovative materials are constant pursuits.

Figure 3. Current company Shyan is working for. (WSP美商科進栢誠工程顧問有限公司台灣分公司)

As we navigate through the ever-evolving landscape of civil engineering, Shyan’s foresight leads us to the next frontier: the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to Shyan, AI is set to revolutionize the industry by playing a pivotal role in enhancing safety on construction sites. Recognizing safety as the paramount concern in any construction endeavor, Shyan envisions AI becoming an indispensable tool, optimizing risk management, and ensuring the well-being of all personnel involved. He thinks the best way to be ready for the AI revolution, is to be more open minded about change, and embracing the integration of new technologies into existing workflows is a good starting point. In the future, the significance of interdisciplinary teams is expected to grow exponentially, so being able to work and communicate cross discipline is essential.

Beyond his professional commitments, Shyan’s passion for technology extends into his personal interests. In his downtime, he immerses himself in staying abreast of the latest developments in the tech world. This enthusiasm seamlessly intertwines with his dedication to exploring the integration of technology within civil engineering, fostering a comprehensive and forward-thinking approach to his work.

Looking towards the horizon of his short-term future, Shyan envisions contributing to the design of a revolutionary system that optimizes the workflow from conception to construction. Building upon his insights, he identifies a current bottleneck in the traditional system, where architects finalize blueprints before passing them on to the construction crew. Recognizing the potential for delays due to subsequent corrections, Shyan envisions a more collaborative approach, involving all stakeholders in the design process from the outset. This innovative methodology aims to streamline communication, minimize errors, and ultimately expedite the construction timeline.

In conclusion, Shyan Yow Chien’s journey from the picturesque landscapes of Portugal to the dynamic realm of civil engineering at National Taiwan University encapsulates a narrative of resilience, self-discovery, and visionary pursuits. His trajectory, marked by the fusion of cultural influences and educational experiences, stands as a testament to the transformative power of embracing the unknown. His journey is not just a personal triumph; it is a beacon of inspiration for students embarking on their unique paths. His story serves as a reminder that the challenges encountered in academic pursuits and professional endeavors are not roadblocks but steppingstones toward a future of endless possibilities.

Thanks for having stopped by the newsletter of the department of Civil Engineering of the National Taiwan University, hoped you liked this article and do not forget to stay tuned for the next one!