June 7, 2016
PhD student's new geomatics engineering degree also recognized by Chinese university
You Li’s newly minted PhD marks a first for the University of Calgary and is “a great story about international co-operation,” according to his supervisor, Naser El-Sheimy, geomatics engineering professor.
When Li picks up his diploma at convocation ceremonies this week, he will have a PhD in geomatics engineering, recognized not only by the University of Calgary’s Schulich School of Engineering, but also by Wuhan University in China.
Li is the first China Scholarship Council student to graduate from the Doctoral Cotutelle program at the University of Calgary. As a Doctoral Cotutelle student, Li had his studies supervised by academics from both universities. He completed his PhD defence for both universities at the same time in November, with supervisors from each program in attendance.
The defence “attracted many students to attend, as the procedure is also pretty new at Wuhan University,” says Li.
Developing high-precision navigation algorithms for lost-cost sensors
His path to a dual degree began after he completed his master’s program at Wuhan, then came to the University of Calgary to study. Li was attracted by El-Sheimy’s international reputation in multi-sensor integration.
After nearly a term as a visiting student, he switched to the Cotutelle program with the support of El-Sheimy; Xiaoji Niu, his supervisor in China; the University of Calgary’s geomatics engineering graduate program and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.
Li's Cotutelle research focused on developing high-precision navigation algorithms for low-cost sensors in smartphones, watches and glasses that transfer information such as location, speed and orientation of the user. Under the supervision of both universities, Li authored or co-authored more than 30 academic papers and four patents — and garnered two international best paper awards and a gold medal in the EvAAL indoor navigation competition.
Li’s “major successes in terms of publications and innovative research will encourage many other students from Wuhan and China to join the same program,” says El-Sheimy.
Post-doctoral fellow focusing on integration of sensors and applying research
On a personal level, Li and his wife Lujie’s had their first baby Luana, who was born in August at the Foothills Medical Centre. He says he and his wife “love the life in Calgary. People are very warm and we have made friends with several Canadian families.”
Li says he appreciated the effort and patience of the Department of Geomatics and Faculty of Graduate Studies during his Cotutelle Program. He is now a post-doctoral fellow at the Mobile Multi-Sensor Systems (MMSS) research group at University of Calgary, focusing on the integration of multiple sensors and its applications with an aim to transfer the research to industrial products.
Holding a degree “from a top Canadian university” will open up future opportunities, says Li.
University's strong engineering and science program a draw for internationals
El-Sheimy says, “this is a great example of how UCalgary can work with international universities, especially from China." He points out that Li’s co-supervisor in China was a member of his own group at the university for four years.
“The University of Calgary is truly an international university as exemplified by the major efforts taken by our international office and the number of initiatives to encourage international students to join the university," says El-Sheimy, who currently has five students under this program. He says if he had more time, he could take at least 10 more.
“This means in a few years we could have a large group of alumni in China promoting our programs, given our excellent training in geomatics engineering and other engineering and science programs.”
Li says the cultural opportunities provided by the program were also a big plus and he wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Cotutelle program to Canadian students “because there are some very good universities in China.”