Xie Yi: Dream What You Want to Dream
Yin Ziyi | 08/19/2019

Known as “Software Guru” by his classmates, Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) student Xie Yi has broken new ground in many areas. During his four years at SUSTech, he finished second in the National Undergraduate Electronics Design contest, completed an internship with Tencent Timi Studio Group and has since taken a job with Google in Munich. While he exhibits a sunny disposition, he gushes with enthusiasm when the topic turns to software development.

It is one thing to have an idea, but it is another to turn that idea into reality. Xie Yi belongs to the minority. His programs like “SUSHelper”, “iosu!”, “waifu2x” were all highly rated on app stores, with a rating of more than 4.8 out of 5. “waifu2x”, in particular, has been downloaded more than 160,000 times in the Apple App Store.

In order to make his apps better, Xie Yi would work tirelessly into the night for several days to debug and to optimize the user interface. With this commitment to high-quality programs, he has successfully landed inside Google with his extensive portfolio in software development.

Learning While Using

Xie Yi has begun to teach himself programming while he was in middle school, mastering Pascal as his first programming language. Unlike the majority of SUSTech students who take time to find their interests, Xie Yi had already decided to major in computer engineering. After being admitted to SUSTech, Xie Yi collected information about the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and prepared well for being a software engineer.

Xie Yi’s favorite course was computer graphics. Xie Yi came across a fantastic opportunity while studying. In the final exam of this course, Xie Yi developed a tower defense game which earned him a high score, applying Apple’s new augmented reality (AR) kit framework and the Unity-3D game engine. A few months later, Tencent Timi Studios wanted to develop “Together to Catch the Demon.” Their game applies a similar game engine. Xie Yi’s knowledge base was quickly recognized as soon as he showed his work to the team leader. As a trainee in Timi Studio, he was required to solve a lot of iOS platform-specific problems because of his skills.

In his spare time, Xie Yi also worked as a student assistant in six courses related to his major. He believed that teaching is another form of learning. While helping junior students, he was also deepening his professional knowledge.

Learning the theory can’t replace practical experience. Xie Yi admitted that, except from Pascal, he didn’t have a systematic study of other programming languages, but learned as he went. Xie Yi preferred to study the syntax of a new programming language first, before going through the form of the application. In this way, Xie Yi got familiar with each language step by step. Xie Yi insisted that, in this field, in order to build a solid foundation of professional knowledge and to be creative, we must think and explore independently.

Turn the Sparking Ideas into Reality

As a freshman, Xie Yi began to develop some practical software applications. He was initially only interested in software development, but later found that he could realize his thoughts basing on his programming knowledge. Xie Yi was fond of a PC rhythm game named “osu!” The game can render pictures while creating a great particle effect. Xie Yi came up with the idea of implementing this function on his phone. “It’s so interesting that you can generate very complex animations by simply translating, rotating, and doing some other basic transformations!” With this idea, Xie Yi immediately began to develop the iOS version of the rhythm game, when he was just a sophomore.

Xie Yi was hit by the idea about developing “SUSHelper” at the first time he took the shuttle bus around campus. “I was thinking it would be very convenient if everyone could see the shuttle bus by gently swiping the lock screen on their phones.” Without hesitation, Xie Yi spent just one week developing the software and another week to get a license before launching.

Another piece of software, “waifu2x” reflected his ability to find opportunities in a fast-changing industry. His love of cartoons and anime meant that he had often struggled to find clear wallpapers featuring two-dimensional figures. He wanted to develop software to process these pictures with lower pixels, downloaded from the internet. At that time, technologies for image enlarging available on the market were cumbersome and time-consuming. When Apple’s WWDC 2017 launched Core ML, Xie Yi found a new way to solve these problems, as this framework of machine learning programming on mobile devices is available to his software.

However, software development is not always smooth sailing. “Sometimes it takes more than three days to debug and it could break my heart at times.” said Xie Yi. He would remain calm in analyzing these problems and fixing the bug. After “waifu2x” was published, users’ feedback was not as positive as he expected. Xie Yi was frustrated for a short time, but he quickly cheered up. “As a developer, you can’t influence the comments of the users, but you can carefully analyze and optimize their experience for the future.”

Key to Success: Ability and Confidence

Xie Yi admitted that getting the offer from Google Munich was beyond belief. “At first, almost no one believed in me.” However, he still wanted to try and submitted his resume. Before taking part in the interview, he did a lot of research into Google interview experiences to fully prepare himself.

Xie Yi impressed interviewers with his fluent English and clear expression. However, he got into trouble at the third round. He was trapped by a question about graphic theory. Although it’s difficult to give a direct standard answer, he did not panic. He calmly explained his ideas to the interviewer, which he believes is one of the most important skills of interviewing – being able to communicate. He demonstrated his on-the-spot resilience and expertise. Xie Yi’s comprehensive abilities shone through and after six rounds of interviews, he received the offer that he never expected to receive.

Xie Yi also got offers from Byte Dance and Tencent. Going forward, Xie Yi has shown that SUSTech has provided him with the outstanding skills and rich experience that pair perfectly with his personality to provide any enterprise an excellent employee. In the future, he will explore software development in a wide range of fields to reach the pinnacle of perfection, in Pascal and beyond.

2019, 08-19
By Yin Ziyi

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Translated and Adapted By SUSTech Newshub

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Photo ByQiu Yan

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