SIGS Graduate Story | Wei Zixian: Be persistent and believe in what you do

Wei Zixian recently graduated with a Master’s from Tsinghua-Berkeley Shenzhen Institute (TBSI) majoring in Optical and Wireless Communication. He was the recipient of various academic awards including the National Scholarship, Outstanding Thesis Award, and title of Excellent Graduate from Tsinghua University. 

He has also published three papers in SCI journals, five conference papers as the first author, and delivered oral reports at international events such as the Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO), and Asia Communications and Photonics Conference (ACP).


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, and it was gradually equipped with better facilities as TBSI grew. 

My supervisor, Associate Prof. Fu Hongyan often encouraged us to participate in academic conferences, where we could communicate with experts in the field, and gain inspiration and opportunities for research. In 2019, I delivered a Post-deadline oral report at the Asia Communications and Photonics Conference (ACP). As Asia's largest conference for communication and optoelectronics, ACP only accepts eight papers from academia and industry for post-deadline oral reports. This was a recognition of our research findings, and was also a memorable experience for me.


First page of the group’s paper


The research group at ACP 2019 in Chengdu 

Focus on research, and align it with industry demand

I always believe that the most important thing for students engaged in research is to be confident and identify with what they do. When it comes to publishing papers, we cannot rush to success. There are numerous factors beyond our control. Therefore, the priority should be on research instead of publications. I believe that opportunities will eventually come to those who persist in what they believe in.  

TBSI has been a constant advocate of “industrial partnerships”. 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 provides plenty of opportunities for students to communicate and work with distinguished scientists. I was lucky to have great teachers and friends on my research journey. 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 want to be known as someone who is dedicated and doing actual work in his position. The Tsinghua spirit of “Actions speak louder than words” has also become my motto. 

From satisfactory to excellent

I would describe myself as “adequate” – someone with a satisfactory score from the College Entrance Examination and a satisfactory track record in research. However, I used to feel anxious, wondering why my expectations have not been met despite my efforts.

During my master’s years, Tsinghua constantly emphasized the importance of doing the basics well. This made me realize that although results may be imperfect, they testify to my diligence and my steadfast work. If you recognize yourself and think what you do is meaningful, “satisfactory” will gradually turn into “excellent”. 


Graduation photo of the lab 


Wei and others gathered for a graduation photo 

“Find your right way”

At the end of 2019, we could never have predicted the tough start of 2020. At the online commencement for our graduating class, 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 finding the right career and path is an issue to explore in the long run, I’m sure there will be a day when we all "find our right ways". 

After graduation, I plan to pursue a PhD at the Department of Electronics and Computer Science at McGill University, Canada under the guidance of David V. Plant. The time I have spent at TBSI will always be cherished, and I will continue doing my best to live up to my identity as a SIGSer. 

Photos provided by interviewee
Edited by Fei, Karen