2008 Distinguished achievement award: Peigen Li

// Mechanical Engineering

Tags: alumni, Engineers' Day, ME E-Day, Peigen Li

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Peigen Li
Huazhong University of Science & Technology
PhDME ’87
Wuhan, Hubei Province, P.R. China

With 50,000 students and a 1,235-acre campus, the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan, China, is slightly larger than UW-Madison. Similar to its Wisconsin counterpart, HUST is located in a capital city and boasts a picturesque setting near hills, lakes and plenty of green grass.

The two universities also share something else: HUST President Peigen Li spent four years at UW-Madison, obtaining his PhD in mechanical engineering in 1987.

Li was born in Wuhan, a city with almost eight million people and a history dating back 3,500 years. Wuhan is the capital city of the Hubei province, making it the biggest hub city in central China. Li traveled east to study mechanical engineering in Shanghai in 1973. After graduating and working for a year in industry, Li returned to Wuhan to attend HUST as a graduate student.

When Li earned his master’s degree in 1981, he joined HUST as a faculty member. In 1983, he came to Madison for his doctorate, graduating with honor. Li’s research interests are in computer manufacturing, and he developed a computer-aided process planning platform used widely in industry. His research group also made advances in e-manufacturing. He has published three books and more than 100 papers.

Li became dean of the HUST mechanical science and engineering school in 1995. Two years later Li and a colleague, who is now the Chinese minister of education, won a LEAD award from the Computer and Automated Systems Association of Society of Manufacturing Engineers for their work on computer-integrated manufacturing.

In 2002, Li was appointed vice president of HUST, becoming president three years later. During his term, he has introduced a series of forceful reforms in administration and human resources.

Li is known as the “mayor” of the HUST community of almost 100,000 students, faculty and staff. Always very busy, he escapes to his home in a tranquil corner of campus reserved for senior staff. His wife, Ming Kang, is a retired doctor, and the couple has been married for more than 30 years. Their daughter, Yuanyi Li, is a human resources manager of a company in Shenzhen.