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Grad Student Publishes Book on China's Construction Industry

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Engineering graduate student and published author Calvin Chui.
A new book based on a University of Kansas engineering student’s master’s thesis could serve as a how-to guide for U.S. businesses that want to succeed in China.

Ka Wah “Calvin” Chui (pronounced CHOO), a doctoral student in construction engineering and management, based the book on results of research for his KU master’s thesis project in international construction management. His adviser, Yong Bai, associate professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, is the co-author for “Comparison of Contract General Conditions between the U.S. and China: Becoming More Competitive in the Chinese Construction Market,” published in August by VDM Publishing House Ltd.

“This book has real, immediate value for U.S. architectural and engineering firms and the construction industry interested in doing business in China where the economy is booming,” Bai said. “It is rare that a publication company is willing to invest money and publish work mainly done by a graduate student. They contacted us.

“Many opportunities exist for U.S. firms to conduct business in China but they are at a disadvantage if they’re unfamiliar with differences in contract language, leading to disputes and cost overruns.”

The compact paperback, with its concise 180-page explanatory text, fits easily in a briefcase. It is available from online book retailer Amazon.

Chui came to the United States from his native Hong Kong as an exchange student at Olathe North High School. He decided to stay in the United States and enrolled at KU. His Templin Hall roommate’s architectural engineering major prompted Chui’s interest in the field.

“After learning the fields of study in architectural engineering, I found myself attracted to many areas related to where I came from,” Chui said. “Hong Kong has more than 7 million in population with many skyscrapers and high-rise residential buildings.

“The world economy is suffering, but in China construction alone had a 7.1 percent growth last year. If U.S. firms want to get a piece of that market, they need to understand and adapt to basic practice differences between the U.S. and China.”

Fluent in Cantonese, English and Mandarin Chinese, Chui researched and compared the conditions of contracts commonly used in the United States and China. He analyzed differences in terminology and ways of doing business, including suggestions for legal contracts and guidelines for content modifications to help U. S. businesses stay competitive and profitable in China.

Chui earned two architectural engineering degrees from KU, his bachelor’s in fall 2001 and his master’s in fall 2006. He worked for a consulting firm in Lenexa as an engineer specializing in mechanical systems. He is a registered professional engineer in Kansas and a LEED-accredited professional by U.S. Green Building Council. His parents, Yuet-Mo Chui and Yin-Yuan Chen, live in Hong Kong.

“The decision of my thesis topic began with Dr. Bai’s knowledge in international construction management and my working experience as a professional engineer,” Chui said. “Luckily, I was given the opportunity to become a Jayhawk. Many doors will be open to me career-wise in both the United States and China.”

Chui now is in China conducting research for his doctoral dissertation on construction productivity comparisons between the United States and China, working in conjunction with Chongqing University. After he completes his doctorate, he plans either an academic career or work with a private construction or engineering firm.

For more details or to purchase the book, go to



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