Hoi Ming Sim


Hoi-Ming Sim was born in Canton, China on September 2, 1947. Sim was the son of an education officer in China, forced to leave China due to persecution by the Communist government. At the age of 3, Sim moved to Hong Kong, where he lived until September of 1971, during which he immigrated to the United States to complete his Master's program at Tuskegee University in Alabama. Sim joined a 2 year Master's program for mechanical engineering, but finished the program after only 3 semesters (1 1/2 years). After graduating from Tuskegee, Sim married his wife, Lucia in Philadelphia, PA. Shortly after graduating, he took, and passed, the test to become a Professional Engineer (P.E) The following year, his first son, Alan, was born in Philadelphia, PA, followed by his second son, Albert, 6 years later. In 1981 after being interviewed in Houston, TX Sim went overseas to Saudi Arabia to work for Aramco. Sim went to work at Ju'aymah, the world's largest gas fractionation plant, while living in Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia. After 6 1/2 years, a huge explosion near Sim's workplace caused him to rethink his priorities, and shortly after, Sim moved his family back to the United States. Sim spent the next months looking for a business opportunity, and eventually purchased a 30 unit motel in Port Lavaca, TX, which he named the Sands Motel. For the next 20 years, Sim owned and maintained the hotel, with the help of his two sons and wife, until he sold his establishment in 2011.

Engineering Experience

After getting his Master's in mechanical engineering, Hoi-Ming Sim used engineering in several of his jobs. The most important were at Aramco, as well as at the motel he owned. At Aramco, Sim worked to control the pollution at a refinery for petroleum. In order to do this, Sim developed a computer program. This program was able to monitor the thickness of the pipe, tank, boiler and all the other equipment required for the maintenance of the refinery. Sim then calculated the change in thickness of these pieces of equipment, and used this data to determine the amount of years needed before the equipment should be repaired or possibly replaced. This helped to prevent unnecessary exposure of the petroleum in the environment, and minimized pollution.
In the hotel, Sim also recognized several problems that he could address using engineering. One problem Sim saw in his hotel was the possibility of faulty equipment causing an excess use of water or electricity, and raising the electricity and water bills. To solve this Sim again created a computer program that could monitor the consumption of water and electricity in every room. As a result, he was able to calculate the average amount of water and electricity that should be consumed in each room. He then created the computer program to flag any room that had an extremely high consumption of water or electricity, enabling him to immediately go to determine if there was faulty equipment, such as a leaky pipe. This also helped solve the problem of untrustworthy managers. In some cases, his managers would not record a tenant, and pocket the money they used to pay for the room. If the computer sees a spike in electricity, but the logs show there should be no occupant, it will flag the room for Sim to inspect. This program was very useful to saving money and using natural resources efficiently.


1947 - Hoi-Ming Sim is born
1950 - Hoi-Ming is forced to move to Hong Kong
1971 - Hoi-Ming moves to the United States for his Master's program at Tuskegee
1973 - Hoi-Ming marries Lucia
1974 - Has his first child, Alan
1980 - Albert, his second child, is born
1981 - The whole family moves to Saudi Arabia so Sim can work at Aramco
1987 - Returns to the United States from Saudi Arabia
1991 - Hoi-Ming purchases his motel, the Sands Motel
2011 - Sells the Sands Motel

Why did you choose this scientist?
I chose Hoi-Ming because he is my grandfather and has had a large influence on my life. I remember going to his motel as a kid to help, and learning a great deal about solving certain problems using computer programs as well as other methods. The adversity he faced to come to America and learn the language, as well as succeed in his business impresses me.
What problem was he/she trying to address or what discovery was this engineer noted for?
There were several problems he tried to address. He helped to reduce pollution from petroleum gas tanks, as well as problems in his motel. This included identifying malfunctioning equipment as soon as possible, as well as catching managers that tried to cheat the hotel.
How did they go about solving (or investigating) this problem or making this discovery?
To solve this problem he designed different computer programs that were made to record certain sets of data. In one case, it monitored the thickness of the equipment, and in the other it monitored the electricity and water consumptions.
How was engineering involved in the problem or discovery?
Engineering was the basis of the solution, using it to develop and maintain the computer programs needed in this situation.
What fields of study became important that contributed valuable knowledge for this individual to make their discovery?
The field of study that was most important was his Masters in mechanical engineering. This enabled him to design the programs, as well as to think of the idea that created them.
What were the overall effects of the discovery on science and humanity?
There were very effects from this on science or humanity as a whole. These ideas and programs could be used in other situations, but as of now have been used for nothing else.
How has the work of this engineer impacted your life or those around you?
The work of my grandfather has influenced my thinking and ideas about engineering. I had always thought engineering was very rigid and could only be used in certain situations to solve certain problems. Seeing him use engineering to solve his motel problems in a simple, yet complicated, process made me redefine my thinking on engineering.