Research in Industrial Projects for Students (RIPS)-Hong Kong 2016

June 11 - August 12, 2016


Who should consider applying to RIPS-Hong Kong?

RIPS is a program for students who are enrolled in or have just completed an undergraduate (bachelors) degree. Students with a strong background in mathematics and an interest in seeing how mathematics is used in the real world are encouraged to apply. Most of the projects have a significant computational component, so that proficiency (or at least some experience) in computer science, data analysis or numerical computation is valuable, but not necessary for everyone. Competition is high for the limited slots available.  Only U.S. citizens are eligible to apply to RIPS-Hong Kong.

What will participating in RIPS do for me?

First, in contrast to most summer research experiences that focus on an academic problem where students work closely with a faculty member, RIPS students apply their mathematics knowledge to a real-world industrial problem, with an emphasis on problem solving using whatever methods are appropriate. In this way, RIPS is a cross between an REU and an internship. Second, RIPS students work on teams, with one student serving as project manager. For many students, this is their first experience working in a team environment.  Third, RIPS provides students an opportunity to explore careers in mathematics, science and technology. They learn about the company that is sponsoring their project through interaction with their industrial mentor. Fourth, RIPS students learn report writing and public presentation skills that will be invaluable to them as they continue with an academic or professional career in an industrial setting. Finally, students will  live and work with students from Hong Kong, a rare opportunity for math and science students.  These experiences, and skills you develop, will give you an edge in the job market.

What is it is like to participate in RIPS-Hong Kong?

RIPS students live, work and socialize together over the summer, so they form close professional and personal relationships. Students will have a large shared office at HKUST, with private team meeting space available upon request. The math department also arranges for Cantonese lessons for the U.S. students. Students stay in campus housing and eat most meals in the campus dining halls. The beautiful HKUST campus overlooks beautiful Port Shelter on the Clear Water Bay peninsula, several miles east of the city. Public transportation is convenient and inexpensive. Students work hard, but they also explore the city, go on hikes, take weekend trips to Macau and mainland China, and find other ways to enjoy their summer in Hong Kong.

What does the program emphasize?

The program emphasizes research, of course, but this is just part of it. You will experience group work, perhaps for the first time, and learn to navigate the team environment. In addition, you will learn to present the results of your research. You will write a formal final report for your “client” (the industry sponsor) as well as prepare and give final presentations of your work during “Projects Day.”

What is a Project Manager?

One student on each team will serve as project manager, whose role includes leading team discussions, coordinating individual team member efforts, monitoring the team’s progress in meeting milestones, and communicating with the industry sponsor. It is a worthwhile opportunity as well as a challenging responsibility. Your academic mentor will choose the project manager during the first week of RIPS.

What support do participants receive?

Travel to Hong Kong is covered, subject to certain rules and limits. Housing in the dorms is included. U.S. participants will be reimbursed for meals. In addition, participants receive a stipend of $3000.  This applies to U.S. participants only; students in Hong Kong, please consult the HKUST Math Department webpage for information about the support they offer participants.


Not exactly. It is a research experience, but the projects come from industry rather than academia, so it is essentially a cross between an REU and an internship. RIPS students do not have regular interaction with the faculty or students of the math department, except for the academic mentors.  There are no classes during RIPS; the focus is entirely on the research projects, and ultimately presenting the results.

What classes should a student have already completed to be adequately prepared for RIPS?

The backgrounds of successful applicants vary quite a bit. Most have taken some upper-division math and some computer programming classes. We will consider the courses you have completed to decide which project is right for you; since students work in teams, if you haven’t covered a subject that is relevant to your project, chances are one of the other students has.

I will graduate with my Bachelors Degree this spring; am I eligible to participate in the RIPS-Hong Kong program this summer?

Yes, we will accept applicants who will complete their bachelor’s degree between December and June of the current academic year.

I am a foreign student studying in the United States; am I eligible to participate?

Your application will be considered for RIPS-LA, but not for RIPS-Hong Kong. This is due to the source of funding.

I am not a US citizen and I attend a foreign university; am I eligible to participate?

Your application will be considered for RIPS-LA, but not RIPS-Hong Kong.  Students who study at HKUST or another university in Hong Kong may apply to the program through the HKUST Math Department. Please consult their website for more information.

How should I tell my references to submit their letters?

Reference letters need to be uploaded on the MathPrograms webpage. You will be asked to enter your letter writers’ names and email addresses. The system will send them automatic email requests on your behalf, or you can customize the letter sent to them from the application page. You can also track when a letter is uploaded by one of your references.

Is it necessary to submit transcripts with my application?

A transcript or academic record (listing your classes and grades) from your undergraduate institution is required, but it can be unofficial. The file submission happens on the application webpage. The application form will ask you to upload your resume/CV and transcript(s). You may submit your application and return to it later to upload one or both documents.

Please note some schools issue “protected” PDF files – if you try and upload such a file you will get an error saying it’s a protected file. If this happens you have to print it out, scan it, and then upload it again.