Karl Ho Tam

  • Age: 20
  • Degree: Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) (Honours)


Karl Ho Tam

What attracted you to the Global Engineering Field Work course? It was during the last lecture of a subject that I took called "Sustainable Systems and Engineering" with Professor Abbas El-Zein which first piqued my interest in Humanitarian Engineering at Sydney University. He showed us pictures of the Makoko floating school in Nigeria and told us "be bold in your thinking, solve REAL problems" which I thought was a very noble pursuit.

What are your preconceived notions about India? I see India as a growing superpower very similar to what China is today. Both countries have very rich and proud histories but were crippled in their success due to colonisation in the 18th to 19th Centuries. I want to be able to see India take flight and I am very grateful that I have been given an opportunity to take a glimpse through this trip. I also see India as a very spiritual and culturally rich country, I understand that Buddhism was born in India from the beliefs of an Indian prince and I want to see more of what inspired this religion to be born.

What have you heard about India? Mostly anecdotes and travel advice! My father went to India for a two week business trip and the most memorable story he told me was how surprised he was at how palpable the inequality was. He stayed in a five star hotel and was driven around in a band new car. A mere 10 minutes away from his hotel (with all its modern facilities and surrounding wealthy shops) there were shacks and slums. There were children on the street running around without clothes playing with sticks and dirt while just a few minutes ago he was surrounded with people wearing the best clothes society can afford. I want to experience and see these images for myself.

What do you hope to achieve while you’re there? I want to discover India and how the society functions. I want to see whether India truly has the potential that many say it has. I want to talk to the locals and understand how they live, what their aspirations are and how they want their country to grow. Most of all I want to learn, and perhaps discover something about myself as well!

What are you excited about? Everything! This will be the first time that I have travelled mostly independently to a country I have never been there before. I am very excited and a bit nervous to meet the locals and adapt to their way of life and culture. I am also very curious about the design challenges we will be given and what engineering solutions the locals have used to solve their problems.

What is the type of role you are hoping to secure once you’ve graduated? When I graduated high school, my dream was to be an Army Officer and Civil Engineer for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). I was successful in my application but decided to study Civil Engineering at The University of Sydney instead. What drove me to want to be an Officer for the ADF was that it offered opportunities to help both the local and global community (such as disaster relief and providing rural services) as well as a need for constant improvement. While those two aspirations remain, my goal of achieving these aspirations has changed to working in project management with people who share these ideals, and if opportunity allows me, to work in the ADF Reserves part-time as well.


Click here to see a visual snapshot of Karl’s incredible journey.

Some of the images contained in this gallery were taken by Lili Guo.