Freshman from future technology school takes prizes | Updated: 2024-02-21 17:22
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A picture of Zhu Hongyu standing in front of Harbin Institute of Technology. [Photo/HIT]

Zhu Hongyu, a freshman from the School of Future Technology at Harbin Institute of Technology in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province, has won prizes at an international engineering mechanics contest, though he had never taken regular theoretical mechanics courses before that.

Zhu enrolled in the school in September last year, and he learned of the International Engineering Mechanics Contest (Asian Region) from his instructor.

"I wanted to join the competition despite having not taken any physics courses at that time. I applied for it, and finally, I found I was the only freshman qualified for the competition," said Zhu.

According to him, his courage came from academician Tan Jiubin who said at a symposium that students should take part in more competitions that they are interested in if they want to make some breakthroughs in scientific research.

He had to face multiple challenges. Apart from the knowledge of physics subjects he had never learned before, the contest also required reading and answering questions in English.

Zhu took online classes, practiced real questions, and memorized professional terms for his preparations. To achieve the optimal self-study result, he scanned online courses at major universities and finally chose the one taught by Professor Ren Yanyu from HIT.

"Professor Ren's lessons were clear and well-organized, which was very suitable for me," he said.

Besides self-learning, Zhu also attended training sessions organized by HIT and conducted by experienced seniors. By combining their instructions with his own comprehension, he summarized 40 pages of notes.

A picture of Zhu Hongyu's 40-page notes made for the competition. [Photo/HIT]

In early December 2023, only three months after entering the school, Zhu traveled to Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu province, to participate in the contest after successfully passing the pre-competition selection held by the university.

"The contest was generally smooth. Even when confronted with unfamiliar terms, I could speculate about their meanings through the context," he said.

"However, I also realized that my knowledge reserve is not perfect, and my foundation is not solid through the experience," he added.

The results were announced a week after the competition. Zhu ranked 63 among all the over 600 competitors, winning the first prize.

He was amazed yet still slightly upset, realizing he could have won the grand prize if he had moved up one place.

"It is such a pity that I failed to secure another grand prize for the university. However, to my relief, my two classmates and I together won the team first prize," Zhu said.

Zhu Hongyu (right) builds a robot with his classmates for the freshman project plan.[Photo/HIT]

Zhu also attended the National Mathematics Competition for college students while he was preparing for the engineering mechanics competition, and achieved the first prize in Heilongjiang province.

"I think participating in the competition itself is a way to learn," Zhu explained, referring to why he joined the two competitions together.

According to Zhu, his daily learning is composed of three modules: in-class knowledge for basic foundation, competitions for advanced knowledge, and the freshman project plan for initial research experience.

He said he was focusing on the project of the school year now. "If we could successfully build a robot and it meets our anticipation, we will take it to a competition."

China's education authorities approved the establishment of future technology schools in 2021 to explore modes for cultivating leading talent in cutting-edge technologies.

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