Is a universally recognized Academician as serious in demeanor as he is in research? How did the academician, Professor Zhuang grow from a freshman to a leading scientist in the optical research field? What kinds of ambiguities and questions did the freshmen have for their majors? On the afternoon of November 23, Professor Zhuang Songlin, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and Dean of the School of Optical-Electrical and Computer Engineering of Shanghai University of Technology, together with his five teammate professors, gave all the freshmen of 2018 an orientation class on academic research.
A number of distinguished professors joined the orientation class. In addition to academician Zhuang, Professor Zhang Dawei of the ultra-precision optical team, Professor Zhu Yiming of the terahertz spectrometer imaging team, Professor Zheng Jihong of the medical optical team, Professor Guo Hanming of the nano-photonics team and Professor Liu Yi of the ultra-fast non-linear optical team were also the key speakers. They came to the stage one after another to explain to students with vivid examples to motivate their interest in their future academic research and to boost the curiosity of the students in the field of optics. Academician Zhuang gave concluding remarks and delivered a speech on the theme of his motto "Aim is higher than heaven, and feet are down-to-earth".
Professor Zhuang gave a brief introduction to students about his life, education and research career, hoping to enlighten the student about their future academic life. Mr. Zhuang first talked about his school experience. At the age of 16, he was enrolled in the Physics Department of Fudan University. During his undergraduate years, he was forced to suspend school for 9 months because of tuberculosis. During the period of suspension, he insisted on self-study at home. When he returned to school, he was supposed to stay in the next grade. Professor Zhuang didn't want to graduate one year late. So he asked his professor to allow him to take the exams as usual. The result is that he got five A+ in the five exams he took. He successfully kept up with the class and eventually graduated on time. Academician Zhuang, through his own efforts, programmed the Spectral Calculation of the central spectrometer in Fudan University in 1963, which was planned to be completed in 10 months, and completed the task in 2 hours to get the correct results. That reinforces his belief that with efforts you can be someone in whatever position you may take.
Academician Zhuang persisted in going to the library to read books every day after work and relentlessly taught himself mathematics and English, which laid a solid foundation for his future study in the United States. In the United States, it took less than two years to get his PhD at State University of Pennsylvania, a record in time in getting a PhD in State University of Pennsylvania. During his two years’ study there, 32 academic papers were published. Academician Zhuang Songlin used his life experience to tell freshmen present that “insisting on learning is always right, for there will always be a chance to have what has learned used”. Academician Zhuang also reminded the students of the importance of being useful talents for the country and society, and the fact that what kind of talents they become is, to some extent, subject to the society and environment, but mainly attributable to their personal efforts. The students were deeply impressed by professor Zhuang’s tenacity and perseverance in research. It is these qualities that helped him make today's accomplishments. "Aim is higher than heaven nd feet are down-to-earth." This motto belongs to Academician Zhuang all the time, and it is also his encouragement to the freshmen.
Referring to undergraduate teaching reform, Academician Zhuang encouraged students to "develop reading habits, read one book intensively, read thick books until they are thin to you, and cultivate broad interests and team spirit". Academician Zhuang believed that the most important thing in university was to master the basic concepts. He did not advocate reading many reference books. Instead, he suggested reading one book intensively, understanding every sentence in the book, and asking the teacher where he did not understand. Textbooks should be read, as should the number of other humanities books. Reading books was beneficial. Through reading, we could cultivate our learning ability and good learning methods. Later on, during one’s career, the work was not necessarily matched with what we had learned, but the method was always there. In addition, he also encouraged students to cultivate innovative ability. Given any assignment, even homework exercises, one should think about whether there is a unique way in solving problems, thus, cultivating one’s creativity in a habitual way.
Academician Zhuang's rigorous and earnest attitude towards scientific research and stunning life experience are all convincing. After the class, the students expressed that they would take Academician Zhuang as an example for their study and life. They avowed to follow his unremitting learning spirit and healthy attitude towards life to make greater academic achievements in their future life, and to be a person of ambition and noble character. Academician Zhuang concluded his lecture with the following remarks: “In the next four years of study, I hope you can actively discuss question and problems with your teachers and fellow students, help each other and pursue a win-win strategy in order to become the pillar in building our country!