‘Occasional TV appearances could be a good way for taking the concept of testing and certification to ‘enter the homes’ of the general public. Alongside the playful packaging of the TV series, we used specialized equipment to demonstrate testing procedures, revealing the scientific intricacies of a pickle, a balloon or even an umbrella.’
Sidewalk Scientist on the rights and wrongs of testing
Many people might have seen Dr George Lau of the testing and certification programme on the popular TV show Sidewalk Scientist from time to time. Surrounded by a group of crazily funny presenters demanding answers from him, Dr Lau elucidated scientific theories in a poised and self-assured manner. Why is an academic like him willing to appear on such a TV show? It all boils down to his testing and certification programme. ‘
Back in 2015, people from the TV station noticed my interviews on dehumidifiers in newspapers and invited me to do some explanation as an academic on the programme Scoop,’ he said. Later he was invited again, this time to join the fun science programme Sidewalk Scientist.
Scientific knowledge made interesting for the public
In 2010, the School of Science and Technology was planning for the introduction of its testing and certification programme. Dr Lau led his team to tailor-make courses for training professionals for the industry. Looking back on the mammoth task of building four large laboratories with limited manpower, he still felt a sense of trepidation. The programme was launched in 2013 and will have its first batch of graduates this year.
With the programme gradually getting on track, Dr Lau said, ‘The programme is comprehensive and covers a number of areas, among which electrical and electronic as well as physical and mechanical testing are unique to the OUHK. Two years ago we were officially appointed by the Education Bureau as the Assessment Agency to conduct Recognition of Prior Learning Assessment for practitioners in the Testing, Inspection & Certification Industry. Recently we are holding discussions with mainland authorities on the introduction of a professional registration system.’
After the path for graduates to enter the industry has been paved, Dr Lau wanted to reach the hearts of parents and secondary school students as well. Occasional TV appearances could be a good way for him to ‘enter the homes’ of the general public. Alongside the playful packaging of the TV series, he used specialized equipment to demonstrate testing procedures, revealing the scientific intricacies of a pickle, a balloon or even an umbrella, and making himself some kind of ‘guru’ for his boisterous ‘followers’ on the show.
Two personas on and off screen
Beyond the classroom and TV screen, Dr Lau is not always so formal. ‘I’m fun-loving and many students know that I enjoy playing electronic games. But I couldn’t do so in recent years as I spent most of my time on course development,’ he said. Recalling his high scores when playing the game Resident Evil years ago, he still beamed with pride and satisfaction.