Editor’s Note:

Shanghai Jiao Tong University announced recently that 10 people were awarded 2021 SJTU Excellent International Undergraduate Students, including two from the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (UM-SJTU JI, JI hereafter). As one of the winners, Gan Ding Zhe from Malaysia who joined JI in 2017 and majored in Mechanical Engineering narrates his real-life experience over the past four years as follows.

As a JI student on the campus of SJTU, I had very memorable experiences over the past four years, studying at the beautiful SJTU campus, travelling to different cities in China and meeting a lot of amazing people. After my graduate and postgraduate studies here, I would like to seek job opportunities in China to do research and development in the field of high technologies.

Twist of fate during the pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us were ‘stuck’ in the house for months or nearly a year, almost all physical ‘in-person’ activities were banned. We call this as the ‘new norm’. I came across many ups and downs during the pandemic. At first I found it hard to adapt to the new norm that I need to attend the online virtual classes and face my laptop all day long. I felt so unmotivated, and wanted to defer my graduation at one point of time. But I somehow managed to notice that, I was just a junior student, I knew I had to plan for my future, I should not waste my time.

The next day, in the “Modelling, Analysis and Control of Dynamic” class, I met Professor Lei Shao. I suddenly felt enlightened and decided that I should continue my studies and go for a Master’s degree at JI, under the guidance of Professor Shao. I knew I could learn a lot from him. Whenever I had tough questions about the lecture or the lab, I would write an email to him, who would always reply to my email very quickly. Prof Shao’s professionalism is very inspiring to me. He takes responsibility and I take him as an outstanding mentor.

Tackle a difficult course project with strong teamwork

In my first semester at JI, I was assigned a team project for the course of “Introduction to Engineering”. We were asked to design a moving robot that is able to move around, catch the ball and throw it to enemy’s domain. We need to be very familiar with Arduino coding, robotic arm, and some sensors in order to fulfill the project. I was very stressed as I had no such experiences before. Luckily I joined an excellent team. Everyone was very participative and we could always come out with brilliant ideas. Our team leader was an expert in coding who played an important role in carrying us forward. Finally, we came out with a ‘perfect robot’ that could do fancy stuffs and even give a sneak attack before the end of the match.

 Gan Ding Zhe takes group photo with project teammates at JI winter design expo.

Extracurricular activities enrich my university life

SJTU is a great university with a lot of supportive and kind people and extracurricular activities. In my freshman year, I joined a SJTU Student Services Center Gym and became a gym assistant. I met a lot of friends there, who offered to provide guidance for my exercises. I also joined a rope skipping competition with other students in the gym. Although we did not win, it was still an unforgettable experience to me. In my sophomore year, I joined the SJTU Dragon Boat Competition (Student Team) and obtained the first place in the competition. To me, that was an incredible achievement.

Besides, I also had many interesting part time jobs, such as event helper in the Open Infrastructure Summit event and 2019 Asia Pacific BMSC Conference. These events offered me opportunities to know people from different industries, improve my interpretation skill and gain a lot of working experiences.

Gan Ding Zhe joins dragon boat race events as a SJTU team member.