【International Voices in NTUCE】(EP06) Educational Odyssey: From Nepal to Taiwan – Unveiling the Journey of Bibek Gupta

Interviewee: Bibek Gupta
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 bustling realm of civil engineering, the experiences and perspectives of individuals who traverse geographical and academic boundaries bring valuable insights. In an exclusive interview, we sat down with Bibek Gupta, a former National Taiwan University (NTU) student hailing from Nepal. As we delve into his academic and professional journey, Gupta shares candid reflections on his educational pursuits, work experiences, and the distinctive facets of the civil engineering sector in Taiwan.

Figure 1. Bibek At Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.

From Nepal to Taiwan 

Gupta commenced his narrative by introducing himself—a journey that began in Nepal and led him to India for his bachelor’s degree at Vel Tech University. The pivotal point in his academic journey was his participation in the Taiwan Exchange Experience Program, orchestrated by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan. This experience saw him join Tamkang University, guided by his interest in Building Information Modeling (BIM) technology.

During this period, Gupta not only explored the nuances of BIM but also had the privilege of immersing himself in Taiwan’s dynamic construction landscape. His foray into architectural and structural aspects marked the initiation of a profound engagement with BIM technology, which spans from 3D to the groundbreaking 5D, which already includes planning and scheduling of tasks of a project.

Following his enlightening exchange in Taiwan, Gupta’s journey continued with enrollment at National Taiwan University for a master’s in the computer-aided engineering division. This academic chapter concluded, seamlessly transitioning into a fulfilling career as a full-time design engineer. Remarkably, Gupta has maintained allegiance to the same company since completing his master’s program in July 2022, underscoring both professional satisfaction and the enduring connections forged during his academic pursuits. This steadfast commitment to a singular professional trajectory post-master’s provides a testament to the stability and fulfillment Gupta finds within the realm of formwork engineering.

Figure 2. A Sample of Formwork Design Using BIM.

NTU Experience: A Beacon of Excellence 

Reflecting on his time as an NTU student, Gupta characterized the experience as immensely rewarding. The superior education system at NTU, compared to Indian universities, and the university’s impressive international ranking established a solid foundation for his career. He added that the adherence to international standards at NTU stands out as a testament to the institution’s commitment to providing a world-class education. The incorporation of global best practices into the curriculum, teaching methodologies, and research endeavors created an environment where students like him could engage with cutting-edge knowledge and emerging trends in their respective fields.

Navigating Challenges: Language and Salary Disparities 

Transitioning into the challenges faced as a foreign civil engineer in Taiwan, Gupta identified language proficiency as a critical factor. Communication, especially in explaining designs on-site or in the office, demanded local language expertise. While some of Gupta’s managers conversed in English, not all did, underlining the importance of language in the Taiwanese work environment. He demonstrated that by overcoming language barriers, numerous opportunities await. His proficiency in Mandarin enabled him to seize multiple chances, significantly aiding him in his work.

Beyond language, Gupta highlighted salary disparities between civil engineering and other domains. A comparative analysis revealed significant gaps, especially when juxtaposed with salaries in IT or computer science departments. The financial aspect emerged as a challenge for civil engineers in Taiwan.

Taiwanese Work Culture: A Draw for Engineers 

Despite the linguistic and financial challenges, Gupta identified Taiwan’s work culture as a significant draw for civil engineers. The structured work schedule, starting at 8:30 and ending at 6:00, along with incentives and training opportunities, created a conducive environment. The emphasis on networking, where time is respected and individuals are valued, further enriched the work culture. Gupta underscored the advantage of studying in Taiwan and subsequently joining a Taiwanese company, as this familiarity streamlined the adaptation to the company’s culture, code books, rules, and regulations.

Proud Projects: The Intersection of Learning and Contribution 

Moving on to some of his proudest projects, Gupta highlighted his involvement in the National Taiwan University’s new humanities building. This project was the pinnacle of his BIM journey, where he applied BIM technology to 3D, 4D, and safety aspects. Despite not handling every aspect independently, he played a pivotal role and gleaned extensive knowledge from this experience.

Gupta was primarily tasked with the design and intricate detailing of the exterior brickwork, focusing on enhancing the project’s aesthetic appeal. The entire design was transformed into a 3D BIM model to envisage its look and assess the construction feasibility of these elements.

As per Gupta, the most demanding aspect involved the installation of the bridge structure within the building’s core. This imposing and weighty structure necessitated meticulous planning, coupled with comprehensive visualization in BIM, to comprehend the sequential working procedures and processes involved

Another noteworthy project was in Taoyuan for Super Micro Computer Taiwan, where Gupta contributed from inception to completion. His engagement spanned from a complete BIM support to construction site for structural, architectural detailing all the way to construction drawing development, showcasing a holistic involvement and problem-solving prowess.

Figure 3. Bibek At Super Micro Computer Construction Site.

Valuable Expertise in Taiwan’s Civil Engineering Sector 

When asked about the most valuable area of expertise he gained in Taiwan’s civil engineering sector, Gupta emphasized the country’s status as a developing hub for technology adoption. Taiwan, he explained, is at the forefront of implementing various cutting-edge technologies such as various dimensions of BIM and automation in the construction industry. This developmental phase offers a unique learning opportunity for individuals starting their careers. Additionally, Gupta emphasized Taiwan’s current focus on sustainability, making expertise

Studying Abroad: A Gateway to New Opportunities 

Addressing the broader question of whether studying abroad opens new job opportunities, Gupta expressed the affirmative. Experience gained in another country, particularly in rapidly evolving fields like innovative technologies, adds significant value. Gupta proposed the idea of gaining experience in a technologically advanced country, then returning to one’s home country. This approach, he argued, enables employers to recognize the individual’s proficiency in the latest technologies, offering a distinct problem-solving perspective compared to those who solely experience working within their home countries.

Differences in Civil Engineering Sectors: Taiwan vs. Nepal 

Gupta delved into the geographical parallels between Nepal and Taiwan, emphasizing the shared mountainous terrains that define both countries. While acknowledging these similarities, he pointed out a crucial divergence in seismic activity, underscoring Nepal’s experience with less frequent yet more impactful earthquakes compared to Taiwan. This geological discrepancy serves as a poignant reminder of the distinct challenges each country faces in managing their respective terrains. Furthermore, Gupta drew attention to the developmental stage, elucidating Taiwan’s advanced status and its utilization of superior construction technology. This developmental contrast adds another layer to the intricate tapestry of differences between the two nations.

Taiwan’s emphasis on high-rise buildings due to its population density was juxtaposed against Nepal’s larger landmass, influencing construction priorities. Infrastructure disparities, particularly the absence of a railway system in Nepal, underscored the developmental gaps. Despite these differences, Gupta noted Nepal’s focus on developing basic infrastructure like roads, airports, and hydropower projects as the country progresses in these areas.

In our interview with Bibek Gupta, a former NTU student from Nepal, we unveiled a tapestry of experiences weaving through academic pursuits, professional challenges, and the distinctive facets of Taiwan’s civil engineering sector. Gupta’s insights provide a nuanced understanding of the opportunities and challenges that individuals encounter as they navigate the dynamic landscape of global engineering. His journey stands as a testament to the transformative power of cross-cultural experiences in shaping the future of civil engineering professionals.

Thanks for stopping by the newsletter of the department of Civil Engineering of the National Taiwan University, we sure hope you liked this article, and of course do not forget to stay tuned for the next one!