The Design School at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University has welcomed three new Heads of Department. They are Dr Ominda Nanayakkara, head of the Department of Civil Engineering; Dr Cheng-Hung Lo, head of the Department of Industrial Design; and Dr Bing Chen, head of the Department of Urban Planning and Design.

With their rich teaching experience, profound academic achievements and excellent leadership, they look forward to bringing new development opportunities to the School and the departments, continuing to create an interdisciplinary and dynamic learning and research environment as well as educate outstanding graduates.

Dr Ominda Nanayakkara
Head of the Department of Civil Engineering

Having joined XJTLU in 2011, Dr Ominda Nanayakkara witnessed the development of the Department of Civil Engineering from the very beginning. He started his career by delivering lectures for the first cohort of Civil Engineering, and has been enthusiastic in contributing to the Department through different administrative roles including module leader, programme director, and committee chair, before he took on the role of head of the Department this September.

Dr Nanayakkara says that the Department of Civil Engineering has been successful in aspects of research dissemination, international outlook, and learning and teaching, and has supported his career development in various ways.

“The Department has produced a significant number of research publications, received patent approvals, attracted external and internal research grants, taught PhD graduates, and developed remarkable research facilities in sustainable construction and materials. It has successfully educated many civil engineers, construction managers, and researchers through UG and PG programmes over the past years.

“The teaching and service roles allowed me to develop my leadership and management skills, awareness of the departmental operation process, and most other skills required to perform better in the current role as the Head of the Department.”

After taking his new role as the head of the Department of Civil Engineering at XJTLU, Dr Nanayakkara hopes to further enhance the programme curriculum and learning and teaching activities to support the graduates in their employment.

“It is expected that one of our PG programmes will achieve a second accreditation, ensuring that future graduates are fully equipped with the needs of the industry.

“I also aim for the Department to succeed excellently in PhD student supervision and attracting external grants, while enhancing the overall research strength and promoting a dynamic research environment within the Department,” he says.

Dr Cheng-Hung Lo
Head of the Department of Industrial Design

Dr Cheng-Hung Lo first joined the Department of Industrial Design back in 2015 as Research Officer and Master Programme Director, before he moved to the School of Film and TV Arts in 2018, directing a Bachelor programme and eventually becoming Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching. Now, he returned to where he first began at XJTLU 7 years ago to lead the Department of Industrial Design as the head.

Dr Lo says that he holds deep appreciation for the Department's endeavor in design education and research, which echoes his educational values in empowering students to become unique design thinkers ready to excel in the field.

“During my initial years here, I was given the opportunities to establish the master program, lead academic research, and take other key roles. These experiences equipped me with valuable leadership capabilities that continue to evolve as an educator and now as the head.

“I’m also very grateful to my supportive colleagues who are also pushing boundaries through impactful work preparing students to drive innovation.”

As the new head, Dr Lo’s  vision is for the Department to be at the forefront of emerging technologies while staying grounded in high-quality teaching, research, and practice.

He says: “To me, the long-standing mission of industrial design professionals is bringing the latest technical advances into people’s daily lives - shaping sustainable lifestyles and improving well-being.

“I aim to foster a culture where we try new things, engage with external partners, and turn bold ideas into reality, as well as create a collaborative environment where we support each other, utilize our diverse expertise, and build on existing strengths.

“I am honored to apply all I have learned to help advance our shared mission and write the next chapter of excellence together.”

Dr Bing Chen
Head of the Department of Urban Planning and Design

Dr Bing Chen joined XJTLU in January 2011 as a founding member of the Department of Urban Planning and Design (UPD), where he developed and delivered modules at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Before taking the leadership role as the head of the Department, he served some important roles at UPD such as Research Officer and Master Programme Director.

According to Dr Chen, UPD at XJTLU is committed to nurturing a multi-cultural community and fostering a learner-centred learning and teaching environment.

“Our students are self-motivated, and the transformative learning experience offered by UPD intends to help students know themselves better and prepare themselves for the future.

“Our vision is to become a ‘glocal’ Department of Urban Planning and Design that can apply the best theories and practices of urban planning and design worldwide to cope with issues arising in the integrated urban-rural development in China,” he says.

As the new head, he’s committed to taking a lead to further promote the shared mission, “think globally, act locally”, at UPD and beyond.

“I will lead the team to further strengthen international collaborations in learning and teaching through joint studios, summer schools, etc., and promote practice-based research through consulting projects, training programmes, and so on.

“In addition, I hope to develop a work environment that can support our staff members’ real-world research, enrich students’ exploratory learning experience, and engage local communities in co-building a learning society,

“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues who have contributed to the growth of UPD. I have learned a lot from collaborating with you,” he adds.

By Yi Qian

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