Academic Areas: Mechanical Engineering; Computer Integrated Manufacturing(CIM)
Li Peigen was born on December 27, 1948 in Wuhan, Hubei province. As one of the well known professors in the areas of Mechanical Engineering as well as Computer Integrated Manufacturing(CIM) in China, Li Peigen enjoys much academic excellence. He proposed the idea of forecasting compensating control of boring dimension based on Kallmann Filter theory in early 1980s. He also took part in the design work for some machine tools, for instance, crankshaft grinding machine and 5-axes laser machine, which were awarded 1st class prize by Hubei Province and Ministry of Education respectively. Due to his contribution to both academic and application work of CIM, he got the University LEAD Award by CASA/SME in United States in 1999 with his colleagues. He made great efforts on R&D of Computer Aided Process Planning (CAPP) as well as Manufacturing Execution System(MES). Under his leadership, a CAPP system was developed and commercialized, which later has been applied by thousands of manufacturing companies. He was awarded the 2nd prize of National Award of Science & Technology due to the achievements of CAPP. He used to be the members for both National 863 Expert groups of CIM and of Robot in China. Currently, he is the Vice Director of Chinese Mechanical Engineering Society and Vice Chairman of China Higher Education Association.
In fact, higher education has always been one of Li Peigen’s concerns and is also an undertaking he is committed to make some changes. He has been Chairman of Mechanical Engineering Education Steering Committee of the Education Ministry for more than ten years. During his presidency of HUST he gave more thinking to education. His newly published book University As I See includes those articles on education published in magazines and newspapers. In regard to the educational problems in China, he has proposed some insightful ideas. According to him, education in China should address big issues such as national education policy and the mission of education. He holds that education should be understood as a process of personal development rather than a tool. He puts much emphasis on “allowing students to freely develop” and advocates student-centered education in HUST. In addition, he speaks directly to the drawbacks of higher education in China, noting that personality development should not be obscured by ideological education. What’s more, he states that “remembering the past” and “leading the future” should be important responsibilities of universities but are unfortunately being neglected in China. He adds that college education should enable students to remember our pains in history, for example the Cultural Revolution. As for universities, they should be places where freedom of thoughts is encouraged to lead the future. Besides these brilliant views on general education, his thoughts on engineering education are thought-provoking as well. Some of his novel ideas are: the boundary redesign of engineering education, the advocacy of the integration of humanities with practice education in engineering, the stress on the importance of students’ taking initiatives in practice as it is the key to the development of creative abilities, the cultivation of macro thinking ability in professional education, and so on. Most of these thoughts are expressed in articles published in magazines and newspapers. The newly published book University As I See is a collection of those published articles on education.
During his presidency, Li Peigen emphasized that among all the work he was most concerned about students. Because of such working principle, he successfully established close rapport with students and was often affectionately called “Uncle Gen”. What is worth mentioning is that his speeches at the opening ceremonies and graduation ceremonies were widely spread not only among students in HUST but also all over China, making him one of the influential university presidents in China.
Li Peigen’s wife, Mrs. Kang Ming is a retired doctor. They have a daughter who works in a company. The five-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter is the apple of Li’s eye. On the second day of his stepping down, he walked her to kindergarten , holding her little hand.
After the resignation, Li thinks he still needs to learn. On the one hand, being a president deprived him of the time to learn many new things, thus making him “an ignorant and incompetent man”. On the other hand, he is regarded by his naughty and lovely granddaughter as the most foolish person in her family.
From 1973 to 1977, he received his college education in Shanghai Textile Institute of Technology (now Donghua University). From 1978 to 1981, he had been studying in Huazhong Institute of Technology (now Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and HUST for short) where he obtained his Master’s Degree. In 1983, he went to study in University of Wisconsin-Madison and was awarded Ph.D degree in 1987.
After graduation, he went back to Huazhong Institute of Technology, began his teaching career there and became a professor in 1991. In 1995 he assumed the role of the Dean of the School of Mechanical Science & Engineering. He was selected to be the Vice President of HUST In 2002 and elected to be Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering in 2003. From March 2005 to March 2014, he served as the President of HUST.