TBSI Graduate Story | Wei Zixian: Confidence and identification matter most on the journey of research

June 30 2020

WEI Zixian, a Class of 2020 master's graduate from Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute (TBSI), majored in Optical and Wireless Communication supervised by Associate Prof. FU Hongyan. During Wei’s master years, he received National Scholarship, Outstanding Thesis Award, and the title of Excellent Graduate from Tsinghua University. He published three papers in SCI journals and five conference papers as the first author. Two of those papers were accepted by top-notch conferences. Besides, Wei delivered oral reports at international events such as Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), an annual meeting of Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO), and Asia Communications and Photonics Conference (ACP).

The most memorable experience: building a lab from scratch

When I first came to TBSI, our lab was set up in an empty room. All faculty and students in the research group made concerted efforts to build the lab from scratch. As TBSI grew, the lab gradually equipped with better facilities.

Supervisor Fu often encouraged us to participate in academic conferences, where we could communicate with experts and scholars in the field. Those events brought us inspirations and opportunities for our research. At ACP 2019, I delivered a Postdeadline oral report. As Asia's largest conference for communication and optoelectronics, ACP only accepts eight papers from academia and industry for post-deadline oral reports. The acceptance of my paper was a recognition of our research findings.

The first page of Wei’s Postdeadline Paper

The research group took a photo at ACP 2019 in Chengdu

Focus on research itself, not papers

I always believe the most important thing for students engaged in research is being confident and identifying with what they do. When it comes to publishing papers, we cannot simply rush to success. There are numerous factors beyond our control. Therefore, the priority should be research itself, instead of papers.

I believe, for those who keep thinking about and working on something they relate to, opportunities will eventually come their way.

Align research with industry demand

TBSI has been a constant advocate of “industrial partnership”. I drew on the resources of TBSI to apply for multiple invention patents during the past three years. In addition, I signed up for the Asia-Pacific Innovation Academy (APIA) and received the honor of Top Team.

Actions speak louder than words

Dr. Ghulam Hasnain inspired me to keep seeking a better platform to meet different people and challenge myself. TBSI provided opportunities for students to communicate and work with distinguished scientists. I was lucky to have great teachers and friends on my journey of research. They are high-fliers in their respective fields. Some are good at theory, some are good coders, some are devoted to social work, and some are enthusiastic about starting up a business where they can commercialize research findings. I would rather be known as a person who does concrete things on his post than be called a nerdy top student. Tsinghua's ethos is that actions speak louder than words, which is always my motto.

"Passable" will turn "excellent"

I would describe myself as "passable". A passable score from College Entrance Examination, a passable track record in research, and a passable life. I used to feel anxious, wondering why I had never met my own expectations and always ended up with a passable result, despite all my hard efforts. During my master’s years, Tsinghua constantly advocated a philosophy of practice urging us to "write papers on the soil of our motherland", meaning that we should observe the life of the average worker so that we know how to take care of the basics properly. One day, I realized passable results are okay, because they were produced through my down-to-earth work. Though imperfect and regrettable, they testify to my diligence. If you recognize yourself and think what you do is meaningful, "passable" will gradually feel "excellent".

Graduation photo of the lab

Graduation group photo

“Find your right way”

At the end of 2019, we could never have predicted the tough start of 2020 and the "cloud" commencement for Class of 2020. At the commencement, TBSI Co-director Connie Chang-Hasnain said, "Find your right way", and Co-director Gao Hong suggested we balance personal achievements with social contributions. Although, "find your right way" is an issue I need to explore over the long run. There will surely be a day when we all "find our right ways".

I plan to pursue a PhD at the Department of Electronics and Computer Science, McGill University, with the guidance of David V. Plant. I will proceed with my research on optical and wireless communication. The time I have spent at TBSI will always be my cherished memory, and I continue doing my best to live up to my identity as a TBSIer.

Editor: Fei