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In Your Network - Robin Sham

Robin Sham FRSA is based in Hong Kong and recently received the highest award for civil engineers for sustained contributions of significant magnitude and stature, including his work on the Taizhou Bridge project in China. He speaks about his love of creative design and how design can help society: 

1) Please give a brief explanation of what it is you do and why?
I am a civil engineer by profession and a bridge engineer in practice. Ever since my childhood, I yearned to work in creative design, and I perceived bridges as awe inspiring and a monument of our achievement. Three decades on and with a career spanning several continents, I never cease to be fascinated by creative design.

2) Why did you join the Fellowship?
I value intellectual interaction with like-minded people, and a platform for advocating creative design. The Fellowship provides all of that.

3) In what capacity do you think you could contribute to society/the Fellowship?
As a creative designer and a practising engineer, I deliver signature bridges which have profound and sustained benefits to society. As an advocate of my profession, I convince the public of many worthwhile causes. These abilities are very valuable to the Fellowship.  

4) What would you change in society given the chance?
There are many things we need to change, and indeed are able to change, in society. If I consider the specific and the tangible, I can create more signature bridges for society to enjoy.  Again, in addition to the physical benefits, the philosophical values are incalculable - bridges are a physical link as well as an emotional link between people.  

5) What recent bit of news have you heard which inspires you?

I read the article “Recognising industry innovation” in the 28 November 2013 issue of the Daily Telegraph.   I think Professor David Nethercot's words of wisdom in that article offer much encouragement to us all in the engineering profession. View the article. 

6) What did you learn last week?
I learned that upon the request of Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Charles Dickens re-wrote the last chapter ofGreat Expectations to change its original unfulfilling ending into a more popularist ending. I was very intrigued because I have always remembered the original ending, and would not know anything different, or better. I came to the conclusion that if one has not had a taste of the “better things ”, then either one would not know what one is missing, or one would be overjoyed when “better things ” finally appear. Nevertheless, to know what one is missing, and to strive to accomplish that, perhaps is the meaning of life after all.  

7) Tell us about another interesting Fellow you have spoken to.
I have recently spoken to Professor David Nethercot of Imperial College, and Peter Head of the Ecological Sequestration Trust. I admire their visions, and the way they advance their visions in life and work.

8) What would you like to connect with Fellows about? Please tell us if there is anything you would like from other Fellows
I am particularly interested in creative design, and design which has a positive influence on society. I would also like to connect with structural designers.  My perception is that there is no paucity of capable designers in the Fellowship, but there may not be many creative engineering designers in the Fellowship and the RSA needs a voice in that context.  However, I value intellectual interaction with Fellows in other disciplines, because this would have mutual benefits in broadening our experience and outlook in life. 

Robert Sham

Robert Sham



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