Choosing a sound career
For Christine Hui, engineering service department manager at GP Acoustics (Hong Kong), working with high-performance audio equipment allows her to put her engineering knowledge to good use and fulfils her interest in environmental protection and product quality.
"These are all primary concerns for consumers these days, so when I finished my university degree I decided this was an area I wanted to work in," says Hui, who has an MPhil in piezoelectric material development from a local university.
Research into piezoelectric materials - materials that produce an electric current when they are placed under mechanical stress - has led to their use in a wide range of products, from fishfinders and jewellery cleaners to musical instruments, speakers and telephones.
Hui's responsibilities at GP include safety and approbation, environmental care and material research, engineering documentation control, component release, artwork and graphics preparation, and capital asset control.
Hui says the careful selection of quality materials is often an important selling point and can provide a marked difference between brands. "A good understanding of materials is a vital first step necessary to produce a successful product," she says.
She adds that the environmental lifecycle - from manufacturing to disposal and safety testing - is also a crucial factor, especially in European markets. Her own interest in the environmental lifecycle of products and their safety was inspired while working for a US safety testing laboratory. She also worked for a laboratory which tested products for European markets.
"The experience I gained working in testing laboratories marked important milestones in my career and allows me to apply my knowledge of product safety at the product development stage," Hui says.
The scope of her work means that no two days are alike. At any given time she might be establishing functional strategies to support the firm's engineering operations, setting up processes and procedures, planning manpower and other resources, or monitoring functional performance to drive continual improvement.
"One of the attractions of my work is being able to specialise in certain areas and even change roles," says Hui, who has also obtained degrees in safety engineering and chemical and environmental engineering.
Since joining GP Acoustics, Hui has established a standard design process for safety compliance and set up an in-house testing lab to meet specific ISO standards, as well as a database to catalogue safety-critical components. She has also set critical parameters for key material processes to ensure product quality and performance.