Alumni Stories | Mark Ma: The Collision of Thinking and Logic is an Intriguing Matter





Ma Jianjun (Mark), a graduate of the Master of Architecture of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities (FAH) at USJ in 2024, shares his experience of studying abroad in Macao and exploring the cultural backgrounds of various countries’ architectural developments.

Ma Jianjun (Mark), a graduate of the Master of Architecture of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities (FAH) at USJ in 2024, shares his experience of studying abroad in Macao and exploring the cultural backgrounds of various countries’ architectural developments. He attributes his decision to study at USJ to his strong interest in architecture during his undergraduate years and the opportunity to pursue further education in Macao through the undergraduate recommendation programme.

Experience the Architectural Development in Various Cultural Backgrounds in Macao

“USJ, with its open and innovative teaching approach, has greatly enhanced my creative abilities.” When asked about the motivation behind his decision to pursue studies here, Mark explained that he chose the field of architecture based on his strong interest in the subject during his undergraduate studies, and being recommended  by an undergraduate honors programme gave him the opportunity to further his studies in Macao, at USJ.

He praised the internationalism of the USJ, which allowed him to benefit immensely from the learning process. “Regarding my studies, I would like to share the profound impact of two professors. The first is Prof. Nuno Soares, the Head of the Department of Architecture and Design. With his experiences studying in Europe, he brought a fresh perspective to my education. For example, he often encouraged us to innovate in design forms and styles. At the same time, Prof. Soares guided us on important aspects that USJ students need to be aware of, such as the significance of architecture to cities, society, and humanistic concerns. Another professor I admire is Prof. Stanislaus Fung, who serves as my thesis supervisor. He is a knowledgeable person who taught students to think from the practical perspective of clients and how to create a feasible solution that can be approved by the clients. When I was writing my graduation thesis, he also arranged online consultations with professionals, including professors from Tongji University and designers from a design institute in Shanghai, who provided valuable guidance that greatly benefited my work.”

USJ’s Diverse Teaching Curriculum Fosters Positive Logical Thinking

It is worth noting that Mark stated how he experienced the constant collision of thinking and logic under the different teaching philosophies of his professors, which he found to be an intriguing and enjoyable experience. The Master’s programme in Architecture of USJ covers various subjects, including digital design techniques, historic heritage preservation, architectural documentation, management and entrepreneurship, urbanization, and architectural research. With the inclusion of different themes in the curriculum, students are also required to have internships in the architecture industry. Mark believes that the industry ultimately caters to the market, and the curriculum allows him to gain early exposure to practical situations, combining theoretical knowledge and real-life case studies in a balanced manner. 

Enriching Campus Life and Enhancing Learning Abilities

While dedicated to his studies, Mark actively participates in campus activities. He organized the USJ Putonghua Debate Team and, as a member of the team, achieved impressive results in the debut competition, the 20th Macao University Debate Competition, where he received one of the “Best Debater” awards.

“Forming a debate team has been a challenging yet highly rewarding task for me personally. The selection of team members is crucial, as it not only relies on individual eloquence and logical thinking abilities but also on the synergy and collaboration among team members. Each member needs to possess a unique perspective and deep reservoirs of knowledge to play a crucial role in intense debates.”

During their regular training sessions, Mark stated that team members collectively analyze cases, continuously refining their strategies and skills. “Representing our university, we have participated in two competitions. This includes the 20th Macao University Debate Competition, where we reached the semifinals and achieved an impressive fourth place. The other competition was the ‘Integrity Cup’ Invitational Debate Competition 2023, where our debate team was awarded a silver medal.” At the same time, he sincerely appreciates the relentless efforts of every team member. “Our collective unity and collaboration have woven together an unforgettable and invaluable experience.”

Building Strong Foundations for the Future

Regarding his future plans after graduation, Mark stated that he would try to work in Guangzhou. “Having an academic degree is like a stepping stone for us in the architecture industry. It provides us with a platform. Having studied Chinese architectural design in mainland China and now experiencing foreign architectural logic in Macao, I can feel the development context of architecture in different cultural backgrounds. This enables me to form my own set of architectural design methods, which I consider invaluable wealth accumulated during my years at USJ. It will also be my foundation to establish myself in the workplace.”