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Interest is the Best Teacher - Interview with Associate Professor Chenglong Fu of SUSTech

Dr. Chenglong Fu is the Associate Professor and Doctoral Advisor of Southern University of Science and Technology, and the subject matter expert of National Defense Science and Technology Innovative Special Area of the Central Military Commission. He was the visiting scholar of the University of Michigan, deputy director of Mechanical and Electronic Institute in the Tsinghua University. He obtained his B.S. from ME, Tongji University in 2002 and Ph.D. from ME, Tsinghua University, in 2006. His research interests include dynamic walking, biped and humanoid robots, robotic prosthesis, lower limb exoskeleton and human-machine interaction. He is the principal investigator of more than 20 research projects, including 4 NSFC projects and 8 national defense projects, and he has received competitive research funding more than ¥2 million in a year. He has published more than 50 papers and 2 academic monographs, the most cited paper of him has been cited for more than 100 times, and he holds more than 20 granted patents. He has received the honor of  Excellent Mentor in Tsinghua University and Teaching Contribution Reward in Tsinghua University.

Innovation and fusion are advantages of SUSTech.

We can feel that professor Fu is an efficient and rigorous teacher at the first sight of him. Then we started to talk about his impression of SUSTech and professor Fu presented that “Reformation and Innovation”, “Small but Excellent” are characteristics of SUSTech. He also talked about the relationship between Shenzhen and SUSTech: “ SUSTech is an innovative university, and it inherits the characteristic of Shenzhen, daring to be the pioneer of the world. There are a lot of first-class professors with dreams, and professors with different backgrounds can help different academic cultures to be fused and sublimate, and develop specific culture and spirit of SUSTech.” Professor Fu also pointed out that the feature of “Small but Excellent” can ensure a high ratio of teachers to students, and can provide more chances for each student to participate in scientific research. It can also be convenient for professors in different majors to communicate frequently and can be easier to generate the interdisciplinary spark.     

Interdisciplinarity and explore unknown secret.

Professor Fu used to do some research on Mechanical Engineering, and he visited the Human Biomechanics and Control Lab of the University of Michigan. We were very curious that why he chose a lab which was not related to Mechanical Engineering, and professor Fu looked very excited to share his experience: “I had done a lot of research about the dynamic walking robot, but the current robot is energy consuming and unstable compared with animals, and I thought that robotics research in the future would study the characteristics of animals. For instance, research on human biomechanics and control can deepen our understanding of human motion control theory, and inspire us to design energy saving, more flexible, and more bionic robot, exoskeleton, and prosthesis. Therefore, I selected a human biomechanics lab, although this choice could interrupt my research results for a while, it helped me to think more clearly about more significant work in the future” Then professor Fu also talked about interdisciplinarity with many fields in the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering, such as Material, Computer Science, and Biology, which were beneficial for the development of the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering.
Moreover, professor Fu shared his current research directions with us: human walking principle, robotic prosthesis, and lower limb exoskeleton. He presented that research about human walking principle can help us to understand the method for a human to realize stable and energy saving walking. These results could also inspire the design of leg robot, prosthesis, and exoskeleton. Prostheses and exoskeleton which are adaptive to human motion height can help human to retrieve the ability of walking, extend activity range, and extend sports life. He believed that not only were these researches advanced, but also they can benefit the people and significant.

Interest is the best teacher and concentration is the best characteristic.

It was common to think that academic research was intense, boring, and repetitive. But professor held the idea that the people who did their research are out of their interest, and you would not feel boring if you love your research. Especially when you find a regularity, clarify a principle, and solve a problem after your struggle, you would found that scientific research could be very cool, and could lend you a strong feeling of satisfaction. When it came to the relaxing activities, professor Fu said that he liked the environment of the campus and sports facilities, and he thought that people need to relax after intense working and he would like to select jogging and swimming to exercise and spend some time to stay with his families.

Crossed and fused Mechanical Engineering major.

Many fresh students seem to be very interested in Mechanical Engineering, then professor Fu introduced Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering to us. He said that Mechanics is the mother of Engineering, and almost all engineering fields need mechanical talents, and many designers of important projects in the world were with the background in Mechanical Engineering. He told us that Selecting the major of Mechanical Engineering can help you to know more about engineering subjects. He also mentioned that lots of students stay in the impression of noise workshop, stained machine tools, and busy workers. While, with the interdisciplinarity of information, material, and biology, Mechanical Engineering did not limit to traditional mechanical fields, and participated in a lot of advanced scientific fields, such as robotics, 3D printing, and new energy. And he also indicated that there were there advanced subjects in the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering, including Robotics and Automation, Innovative Design and Advanced Manufacturing, and Energy Engineering.
Requirements to be the student of Professor Fu:
Professor Fu presented 3 requirements for his prospective students: 1. Wide sight. 2. Deep knowledge. 3. Dogged persistence. The wide sight could help students to combine and optimize different technologies. Students who had entered the stage of a higher class or postgraduate need to pay attention to the depth of knowledge. Moreover, scientific research was not straightforward, and students need to have dogged persistence to persist to do the research in the same direction, then they will be successful finally. 
Finally, professor Fu talked with us about the plan to apply the major of robotics, the new constitution of SUSTech Institute of Robotics, the scientific innovative lab of robotic contests, and lots of summer programs for students. We hope the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering to develop continuously.

Translator: Kuangen Zhang