December 2021 Beacon

Who’s Who in the IEEE OES (December 2021)

Lian Lian, an elected AdCom member (from 2022 to 2024), OES Shanghai Chapter Chair

Lian with Haima-4500 at sea

I grew up in a family of teachers, having a brother who is two years older than me. In October, 1978, I started my university study at the Department of Ship Design and Manufacturing, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), one of the top universities in China. I remember that when I was in my junior year, I fell in love with the discipline of underwater vehicles after listening to a lecture about that. Then, I decided to apply for the postgraduate study of this major. In September, 1982, my dream came true and my career in underwater vehicle research started. In January, 1985, after receiving my master’s degree in engineering, I joined SJTU as a teacher and researcher. At the beginning of 1994, I was invited to Germany as a guest scientist of GKSS Research Center to participate in a Sino-German joint project. In just one year, I worked very hard and learned advanced technology, and more importantly, learned a different way of thinking, and completed my research. At the beginning of 1995, I decided to return to China as I missed my family badly, even though the German side offered me a chance to stay. I still remember my answer to “Why do you want to go back while almost everyone else is seeking for a chance to stay?” was “I love and miss my family and my country, and I want to be the master of the country not just a guest.” I think this was the very reason that drives me home.

Lian at sea trial

The year 1998 was an important milestone in my life, when I got the Youth Fund Project funded by the National Hi-Tech Program (863 Program), and then from hundreds of candidates I was selected as a member of Expert Group of 863 Program by the Ministry of Science and Technology at the beginning of 1999, as one of the youngest members of the expert group. For the next two years, I worked with the older experts, led by world famous physical oceanographer Prof. Jilan Su, an Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, from whom I learned a lot. These two years of experience had greatly influenced my knowledge structures, scope and vision, even the project management. After that, I had been serving 863 Program for 11 years, till 2011. Therefore, since 1999, I have been engaged in the National marine strategic planning and project management while carrying out university scientific research and teaching, which was the most memorable and precious experience in my life.

Lian with family

As the marine technology team principal investigator, I have been leading my team and concentrating our efforts on underwater vehicles, including ROV, Smart Float, Hybrid Aerial Underwater Vehicle, sampling systems, with all these researches supported by either the National funding or Shanghai Municipal Government. Of all these research projects, what I am most proud of is the “Haima-4500” ROV, which was initiated and funded by the 863 Program at the end of 2008. In April, 2014, China’s first ROV, capable of operating at a depth of 4,500 meters, underwent a successful trial in the South China Sea. This ROV was named “Haima” (sea horse in English) as 2014 was the Year of the Horse. Designed for deep-sea observation, sampling, and heavy-duty operations, “Haima-4500” had been a landmark achievement in China after “Jiaolong” (manned submersible) and signified China’s innovative capability to develop and utilize deep-sea Work-Class ROVs. Since then, “Haima” series ROV products were built, such as “Haima II”, “New Haima”, “Haima-2000” and “Haima-500”, which further consolidated my team’s leading position in ROV and its key technologies in China.

Lian with daughter at campus-1

In 1998, I attended UT’98 in Tokyo, and met Prof. Ura and Harumi. It was my first IEEE/OES activity, the starting point of my engagement with IEEE OES. Now I have been an active member of OES for more than 20 years, and have been serving as the Chair of IEEE OES Shanghai Chapter since 2011. I still remember that day when Prof. Ura and Harumi came to Shanghai from Wuxi where the UT’09 was held. They offered me a chance to bring OCEANS to Shanghai, which would be the first OCEANS in Chinese Mainland. Since then, I had worked with my team for about 7 years. In April 2016, OCEANS’16 Shanghai was held in Shanghai with total attendees about 950. The experiences of serving the society have given me a deep understanding of the fundamental goal of the society and the role we should play as the society leaders.

Now I am going to talk about the most favorite part— my family. I have a happy, loving family and a sweet daughter. My husband is always understanding and supportive at work. Recalling the road I have walked on is full of hardships, bitterness and even tears. There have been many times I want to give up, and want to escape. It was my husband who is always behind me to support me, encourage me to move forward, and even push me forward whenever I hesitate and shrink back.

Lian with daughter at campus-2

Due to the needs of my work, I often go on business trips once a week, sometimes without weekends for several months. My colleagues and friends joke that I am a “flying trapeze”. I have asked many men who travel a lot whether they feel guilty about being away from their families, and the answer is “no”. EVERY time I go on a business trip, I deeply feel sorry for my family. I always believe that career and family complement each other. But you have to do your best to balance career and family, switching different roles from career woman to mother, wife, daughter and daughter-in-law. For me, my family is the main part of my life. My home will always be the harbor and haven of my work and life. Everything I put in is rewarded with my husband’s understanding and support, and my daughter’s wisdom and understanding.

I have always liked the saying that working keeps you beautiful. As a woman, only by integrating into the society and giving full inspiration to her potential, can she stay young forever. Only by loving your family and fully showing the tenderness of a woman can you be beautiful forever.