Summer helpers recruited by the Hong Kong Observatory said at the end of their holidays that they treasured the hands-on experience gained while working at the Observatory. They believed that the experience would benefit in their future career.
Every summer, the Hong Kong Observatory recruits university undergraduates to work as summer helpers. This serves to give students a chance to get in touch with science at work, gain work experience and understand the operation of a government department which is useful in preparing them for their future career. In return, summer helpers help the Observatory to complete some short-term projects.
This summer, the Hong Kong Observatory employed a total of 18 undergraduates to carry out such duties as computer programming, web-page construction and weather cartoons design.
Mr Cheung Yik-wai, a second year student from the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems of the University of Hong Kong, was one of this year's summer helpers. He said that the summer work not only fulfilled a requirement of his course curriculum, but also gave him a chance to see some hi-tech equipment in operation.
His duty in the Observatory was to assist in the development of weather forecasting tools through computer programming. He said, "I used to think that the Observatory is only engaged in collecting weather data and issuing forecasts. Now, I realise that a lot of research is being done to support the frontline weather forecasting operation. For me, I am very pleased that I have learned a new computer language during this attachment. This is a bonus to me."
Recalling his most memorable event during the attachment, he says, "I was thrilled to see a 3-dimensional image of a typhoon created before my eyes by a program I have written."
Another summer helper, Mr Chan Ka-kin, is a first year student from the Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics of the City University of Hong Kong. His work in the Observatory was to design weather cartoons for use in TV weather programmes and publications, and to serve as a reporter of the newsletter for the "Friends of the Observatory".
After working for more than a month in the Observatory, Mr Chan realised that weather forecasting was a complicated and difficult task, and that behind a short TV weather report was abundant data collection, analysis, computation and reasoning work.
He appreciated very much the Observatory's meticulous arrangements for the summer helpers. He was particularly impressed that the Observatory had arranged for them to visit the Central Forecasting Office, the Tai Mo Shan Weather Radar Station and the King's Park Meteorological Station, which gave them a more in-depth understanding of the Observatory's operations.
He was very proud that the weather cartoons he had designed would be used in TV weather programmes.
Both students considered the hands-on experience gained in the one and a half months very valuable.
Colleagues of HKO always share their work experience with the summer helpers
CHEUNG Yik-wai is writing computer programmes for displaying 3-dimensional weather graphics
CHAN Ka-kin is designing weather cartoons for TV weather programmes