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NCKU Alumna Yih-Harn Liu Becomes First Taiwanese to Win Boat International Young Designer of the Year Award 2019

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Yih-harn Liu, alumna of NCKU’s Department of System and Naval Mechatronic Engineering, entered Boat International’s yacht design competition and won the Young Designer of the Year Award 2019, becoming the first Taiwanese to win a major award in the international yacht community. Professor Ming-Chung Fang, her advisor during her undergraduate and postgraduate studies, expressed his pride in Yih-harn Liu: “Yih-harn is very talented, and even more importantly, she is hard-working and an avid learner. I knew back then that she would make it big one day!”

Yih-harn Liu, who pursued both her bachelor’s degree and her master’s degree at the Department of System and Naval Mechatronic Engineering at NCKU, is a great lover of boats and the sea. She loves sharing pictures of boats and the ocean as well as pictures of herself on boats and at competitions on her Facebook page. After obtaining her master’s degree in 2016, she studied yacht design and interior design at Italy and the UK. Winning this major international award in the yacht community, Yih-harn Liu expressed with excitement that it was a great recognition and encouragement and that she was thankful to NCKU for helping her build a solid foundation.

Yih-harn Liu further indicated that NCKU is a comprehensive university with a wide selection of courses, which is rare in Taiwan. Students can take courses based on their interests and their future goals and needs. In addition to the required and elective courses that she took at the Department of System and Naval Mechatronic Engineering during her undergraduate studies, she also took a statistics course at the Department of Accountancy and learned design and hand-drawing at the Department of Industrial Design. “The knowledge and skills that I gained from these courses may not seem to be directly connected to yacht design, but they more or less helped me when I analyzed problems, did projects, and made decisions, so I could look at problems from a more rational angle and use more mature methods to express my designs.”

Professor Jeng-Horng Chen at NCKU’s Department of System and Naval Mechatronic Engineering, who taught Yih-harn Liu engineering graphics, thermodynamics, and basic ship design in the first, second, and fourth years of her undergraduate studies, observed that Yih-harn held high self-expectations and was generally at the top of her class. He was particularly impressed with her performance in the fourth-year basic ship design course. “The level of the project that her group turned in that year was far beyond what was required. They used a number of additional tools and skills, and their s hip configurations displayed considerable ingenuity. Much of it was clearly the result of active learning.” They even fabricated a company name and designed a logo; you could see their ambition to do their best. Their project was practically what you would find in the industry, and no other students have surpassed them so far.” Jeng-Horng Chen still has that project today, and whenever any student complains that the project is too hard to do, he shows them the project, which brings gasps of astonishment.

Ming-Chung Fang explained that Yih-harn had aimed toward yacht design early on. Aside from working on her schoolwork, she also served as the vice president of the NCKU sailing club and competed in sailing races, which gave her experience in navigation and deepened her knowledge and understanding of yachts. After obtaining her master’s degree at NCKU, she went abroad to further her studies and courageously marched onward toward her goal. “She is constantly nourishing her life progress, and this award is the fruit of her considerable efforts and preparation.”

Chairman Sheng-Chih Shen of the Department of System and Naval Mechatronic Engineering stressed that NCKU offers many opportunities for cross-disciplinary learning. In addition to their engineering education, students at the Department of System and Naval Mechatronic Engineering are also welcome to take classes at the College of Planning and Design if they are interested in design, drawing, or aesthetics. For years, there has been no shortage of system and naval mechatronic engineering majors pursuing their master’s in design, and students in the Department of Industrial Design have also found research collaborations between their advisors and professors at the Department of System and Naval Mechatronic Engineering. Furthermore, NCKU has many departments and a diverse selection of student clubs to help students cultivate their skills in coordination, problem solving, and management and expand their social networks. Yih-harn’s achievement is the best example of the advantages offered by NCKU’s diverse learning environment.

Boat International received a record high of 42 entries for the Young Designer of the Year Award 2019. Entrants were required to design and create the general plans for an 80-meter motor sailer . After two rounds, only six entrants from five countries, namely Italy, Turkey, Taiwan, the UK, and China, made it into the finals.

The Young Designer of the Year Award, which targets young yacht designers, is presented during the Boat International Design & Innovation Awards and has long been co-sponsored by Boat International magazine and superyacht builder Oceanco. Other award categories include best exterior styling, best interior design, and best naval architecture, and they are like the Oscar Awards of the yacht community.
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