Engineering Marvels of the GBA



Spring 2024 International Academic Project:
Engineering Marvels of the Greater Bay Area, China

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Guangdong – Hong Kong – Macau Greater Bay Area, also known as the Greater Bay Area (GBA), is a megalopolis consisting of nine cities in the Guangdong Province of China, as well as Hong Kong and Macau. It is the largest and most populated urban area and is among the four largest bay areas in the world, comparable with the bay areas of New York City, Tokyo, and San Francisco. The GBA accounts for approximately 5% of China’s population and 10% of China’s GDP, and is the largest and the richest economic region in South China.

Engineering Marvels of the GBA is a week-long international academic project that takes Georgia Tech students interested in infrastructure to the GBA to see how design and engineering principles work in some of the most impressive structures in the world. It is rare to be able to visit some of the world’s longest bridges, tallest buildings, largest airports, most expansive metro stations, busiest ports, as well as a large reservoir, all in one geographical region. You can see the scale and innovation in the GBA. Cross-cultural activities will intertwine with the engineering-oriented field trips offering a fun-filled enrichment experience to the students during the spring break week.

To kick off the initial offering of this program during the 2024 spring break, the Georgia Tech – Shenzhen office will offer financial assistance to eligible students in the form of partial airfare subsidy. Participants must be current Georgia Tech students in good academic and disciplinary standing who hold valid passport as of January 2024.

Program Information

  • Program description: See slides
  • Trip leaders: Dr. Neda Mohammadi and Dr. Jian Luo.
  • Program dates: Spring break 2024 (March 17 – 24, 2024).
  • Cities to visit: Hong Kong, Macau & Shenzhen, China.
  • Eligibility: Current Georgia Tech undergraduate or graduate students in good academic standing and good disciplinary standing (no pending disciplinary charges or outstanding disciplinary sanctions). Must be 18 years of age or above by the program start date of March 17, 2024 in order to participate.
  • Target students: There is no major restriction for students to participate in this program. Students who are interested in civil engineering, architecture, urban planning, construction, engineering management and related disciplines are especially encouraged to attend.
  • Program capacity: up to 20 students.
  • Program fee (waived for the initial program offering in Spring 2024): $500 which covers 1 night of double-occupancy hotel lodging in Hong Kong, 1 night of double-occupancy hotel lodging in Macau, 4 or 5 nights (depending on return flight time) of double-occupancy hotel lodging in Shenzhen, ground transportation in Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen, admission fees to local venues, materials and supplies, program events, logistics and local support.
  • Additional expenses to budget: Airfare for outbound travel Atlanta to Hong Kong and return travel Hong Kong (or Shenzhen) to Atlanta; Chinese visa application fee; meals and personal spending.
  • Financial support: For this initial program offering in the Spring 2024 semester and to create opportunities for cross-cultural interactions, the GT-Shenzhen Office will provide partial reimbursement of the participating students’ paid airfare up to $1,000 per person. Students must fully participate in the organized activities of the program to receive the subsidy, and no independent travels are allowed during the program period. The GT-Shenzhen Office will also cover the cost of CISI insurance for all program participants. Additional travel support may be provided to those students who are on need-based financial aid during the Spring 2024 semester at Georgia Tech. The program fee will also be waived for the Spring 2024 offering.
  • Contact for questions: Send mail
  • Application Process

  • Step 1: Read carefully the information on this page and the linked documents.
  • Step 2: Join the program information session via Zoom scheduled for Thursday January 11, 2024, 6-7 pm ET. Meeting link: https://gatech.zoom.us/j/93687429950; i.e., Zoom Meeting ID: 936 8742 9950. You can view the recording using your Georgia Tech login. Reach out to either trip leader or send mail if you have additional questions.
  • Step 3: Submit your application via this page by January 22, 2024. Or you can scan the QR code below with your phone:



    We will send detailed Chinese visa application instructions to those who have applied. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
  • Step 4: Fill out the China Online Visa Application (COVA) as instructed but do not click the submit button on the COVA site. Note the Application ID which allows you to return to the COVA site and update your visa application online within 30 days. Our designated visa service agency will review your visa application and submit it on your behalf after you have dropped off your passport, required supporting documents, and made the visa application fee payment. Plan for approximately 2 weeks of turn-around time once you have submitted all required materials to our designated visa service. If your particular situation is complicated, more visa processing time may be needed.
  • Step 5: Make $500 program fee payment to GTSI to cover the on-site expenses. Deadline for making the payment is March 1, 2024. Detailed payment instructions will be sent to the program participants.
  • Step 6: You should purchase airfare once your Chinese visa is issued, or you may purchase a refundable airfare prior to the visa issuance.
  • Passport and Visa

  • Passport: You must have a current and valid passport with at least 6 months of validity left from the program return date of March 24, 2024 and at least two blank visa pages left.
  • Visa to Hong Kong: Nationals of about 170 countries and territories may visit Hong Kong for 7 to 180 days visa-free; see the visa policy of Hong Kong. U.S. citizens do not need a visa to visit Hong Kong. If your nationality does not exempt you from the Hong Kong visa requirement, you may not choose to participate in this program or you may opt to fly to Shenzhen directly and only participate in the Shenzhen portion of this program as it may not be feasible to apply for Hong Kong visa and Chinese visa at the same time. The program fee will NOT be prorated if you miss a portion of the program.
  • Visa to Macau: Nationals of about 81 countries and territories may visit Macau for 14 days to a year visa-free; see the entry requirements for non-residents of Macau. U.S. citizens do not need a visa to visit Macau. If your nationality does not exempt you from the Macau visa requirement, you may not choose to participate in this program as it may not be feasible to apply for Macau visa and Chinese visa at the same time. The program fee will NOT be prorated if you miss a portion of the program.
  • Visa to mainland China: If you are a citizen of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain or Malaysia, you do not need a visa to visit mainland China for up to 15 days. If you are a U.S. citizen, you should apply for a tourist visa (L-visa), and the cost is the same whether you apply for a single entry visa or a 10-year multiple entry visa. The visa cost consists of a visa application fee ($140 for U.S. citizens; different amounts for citizens of other countries) charged by the Chinese Embassy, plus a service charge of $170 from the visa agency (for reviewing and handling the visa application and back and forth express mailings with the Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC).
  • China Online Visa Application (COVA): We will provide detailed COVA instructions to those students who have applied to this program.
  • Chinese visa application photo: To help the program participants meet the stringent requirements for the photo used in the Chinese visa application (whose dimensions are different from U.S. passport photo dimensions), we ask that you email a high resolution photo of you taken against a white wall or a light-colored wall using the cell phone to Ms. June Huang at the GT-Shenzhen Office. Please indicate that you are an applicant to this program. She will email you back the COVA compliant photo with the right dimensions.
  • Airline Itineraries and Airfare

  • The most efficient airline routing from Atlanta to Hong Kong takes approximately 24 hours including one stop with a reasonable layover. The most efficient routing from Hong Kong to Atlanta takes approximately 20 hours including one stop with a reasonable layover.
  • Note that Hong Kong and Shenzhen will be ahead of Atlanta by 12 hours in mid-March (after the start of the Daylight Savings Time in Georgia.)
  • In order to participate in the program fully, please plan to arrive in Hong Kong by Sunday March 17. You can plan to depart Atlanta in the evening of Friday March 15 or in the morning of Saturday March 16 in order to arrive in Hong Kong on Sunday March 17. A local staff member will meet you at the Hong Kong Airport upon your arrival in accordance with the flight itinerary that you provide to us. Airport pick up is provided any time on Sunday March 17 only.
  • You can depart Shenzhen or Hong Kong in the evening (6pm or later) on Saturday March 23 or the morning of Sunday March 24 in order to return to Atlanta by the evening of Sunday March 24.
  • Each program participant will book their own airfare. We will inform the program participants in early February, which flights the trip leaders will be on in case you wish to travel with a trip leader. The two trip leaders will be flying with different airlines to provide options to the students.
  • It is generally cheaper to fly roundtrip Atlanta -> Hong Kong and Hong Kong -> Atlanta, rather than a multi-city itinerary Atlanta -> Hong Kong and Shenzhen -> Atlanta.
  • A CNN article: The world’s best airlines for 2023, according to Skytrax.
  • Airfare search conducted on January 2, 2024 for roundtrip airfare Atlanta (ATL) <-> Hong Kong (HKG) that can meet the program date requirements: economy class roundtrip airfare ranged from $1,393 to $2,039 among the following airlines that provide 1-stop services between Atlanta and Hong Kong: Qatar Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airlines, Delta Airlines, Korean Airlines, and United Airlines. Airfares fluctuate and the prices may be different when you purchase the airfare, depending on when you book and the seat availability.
  • The 1-stop itinerary with Qatar Airways (a member of the OneWorld Alliance) is via Doha. For the long layover in Doha, you may take advantage of the airline’s complimentary transit tours or even complimentary transit accommodation.
  • The 1-stop itinerary with Turkish Airlines (a member of the Star Alliance) is via Istanbul. For the long layover in Istanbul, you may take advantage of the airline’s complimentary Touristanbul service – a free layover service for all international transfer Turkish Airlines passengers. Anyone who flies through İstanbul and has a 6-24 hours layover time can use this service.
  • Pre-Departure Orientation Session

    We will hold a pre-departure orientation session with the confirmed program participants via Zoom during 7:30-8:30 pm on Thursday February 29, to discuss logistical matters such as program activities, lodging, travel subsidy disbursement, airport pickup, international mobile data, currency and money matters, electricity and electronics, customs procedure, etc. Please check your email for the meeting information.