Yin Ki (Kiki) Fong

Since I began my studies in the UK in Year 9, travelling has become the lifeline between me and my family in Hong Kong. Little did I know the years of travelling back and forth silently planted the seed for me to become an Engineer.

The subject I was drawn to most at school was Design and Technology. I was encouraged to inject personality into my work and think outside the box. What fuelled my passion was the sense of accomplishment when I overcame a challenge or solved a problem – that ‘eureka’ moment when everything slotted into place.

In Year 11, my teacher at Roedean School put me forward for an Arkwright Engineering Scholarship. Being nominated really boosted my confidence. Although it was tough at the time, the selection process gave me a head start when I applied to university. The reputation that comes with being an Arkwright Engineering Scholar strengthened my application and the interview helped me know what to expect when it came to daunting university interviews.

Being awarded the scholarship helped me realise my talent for problem solving. I used the scholarship funding to attend a Smallpeice Trust residential course at the University of Cambridge which cemented my decision to pursue a career in engineering. In the end, I accepted a place to study Mechanical Engineering (MEng) at the University of Southampton.

During the summer months of my undergraduate degree, I built up my experience by undertaking placements. The most exciting project I worked on was the Express Rail Link Project in Hong Kong. The project involved boring two tunnels between Mai Po and Ngau Tam Mei. Tunnelling has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, although that is starting to change. At the time there was a superstition that women bring bad luck to a project – ironic considering that tunnel boring machines are typically named after inspiring women. Despite these perceptions, being the only female working in the shaft was a real privilege. I got to fully appreciate what goes into a large-scale engineering project. I had to co-ordinate suppliers, represent the company in daily meetings and report on assembly progress. The team was fun to work with and there was such a variety of expertise, engineering knowledge and cultural backgrounds. I gained so much from this experience.

After completing my undergraduate degree, I decided to challenge myself by pursuing a PhD in Bioengineering. However, after finishing my postgraduate studies, my passion for travelling and transport drew me back to the Transportation industry.

In 2017, I joined the Atkins Engineering Graduate Scheme in their Manchester office, focusing on Intelligent Transportation Systems. I worked on the Smart Motorway All Lane Running (SMALR) Monitoring and Evaluation Project. I loved working on this project because it enabled me to build on my strengths in data analysis and report writing. I still had that same ‘eureka’ moment when all the analysis results came together to create an integrated picture – It was hard to forget.

 "We value Kiki’s ability to break down complex problems and present logical solutions in a way that is easy to understand. Our projects and the staff who she coaches benefit greatly from Kiki’s skills and I’m pleased that she is able to reciprocate the support she has received from Arkwright Engineering Scholarships in her development.”

Joe Castle, Practice Manager, Atkins

Atkins has supported me throughout the scheme, equipping me with the technical and project management skills that are highly sought after in the industry. I’ve also been able to tailor my professional development to my strengths and interests.

I am now working on the calibration of the Manchester Smart Motorway (MSM) scheme. This involves performing flow threshold calculations to optimise the time and duration variable speed limit signals should be displayed. The main benefit of working on this scheme is, being local, I can always drive through it to gauge how well it works!

The Arkwright Engineering Scholarship helped me achieve my dream of being an Engineer. Transforming me from a very homesick Year 9, who lacked self-confidence, to the competent Engineer I am today. Since then I have turned the tables, becoming an Arkwright Interviewer and Mentor. I hope to inspire the next generation of Engineers, especially those who are shy and lack confidence. An Arkwright Engineering Scholarship will not only act as a springboard to a career in engineering, it will also make you realise you are more capable than you think!

Arkwright Scholar 2006-2008

The Smallpeice Trust

Design and Technology, Maths, Physics

University of Southampton, PhD in Bioengineering, MEng in Mechanical Engineering (Advanced Materials)

Engineer, Atkins