My Graduation Story – Taekwondo inspires study of IoT
Chris Edwards | 08/22/2020

In the tenth year of our existence, Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) has been supported by its three pillars of “Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship.” As our student community has passed through our campus over the years, they have excelled in many areas.

Our students have found their inspiration in many different ways. However, the electrical system that underpins a taekwondo scoring system is one of the less conventional methods of finding motivation for their research direction. Yet, it was what happened to Mengxia YU (’20, Electrical and Electronic Engineering).

Mengxia YU came to SUSTech from Liancheng, a rural town in Fujian Province. She chose SUSTech because she wanted to fulfill his dream of becoming an engineer-scientist while wanting to make history with a new university. She was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to SUSTech as one of the top students from Fujian.

On her arrival at SUSTech, she began her search for a mentor. During her “Principles of Chemistry” freshman class, Mengxia YU was enthused by the kindness of Professor Zewei QUAN (Chemistry) in class. It also reflected positively on her experiences in chemistry in high school.

In looking back over the last four years, Professor Zewei QUAN takes a holistic approach to each of his mentee’s lives. He ensures that they are looking after their academic, mental, physical, and emotional well-being. He regularly invites the students under his care to take part in sports so they can break free from their academic burdens. It allows the students to discuss their challenges in a relaxed environment.

After talking to many different people, Mengxia YU decided to join the research group of Professor Tao YE to study flexible Internet of Things sensors. She first knew the concept of sensors when she participated in taekwondo competitions. She found that hitting the protective gear to a specific point value will score and be shown on the screen. At that time, she was very curious about the device that detected the strength and quickly converted it into an electrical signal.

After asking the coach, Mengxia YU knew that there was a magic circuit called sensors fabricated in the protective gear. Since then, she has developed a keen interest in the circuits, principles, and applications of sensors. She joined Professor Tao YE’s lab at the beginning of her sophomore and been attracted by the research on the characteristics of embroidery.

Mengxia YU commented that Professor Tao YE encouraged her to find and achieve her passion, regardless of the difficulty. Professor YE’s constructive suggestions were fundamentally integrated with his academic, industrial, and creative expertise, providing a comprehensive example for Mengxia YU to look up to.

Throughout her four years at SUSTech, she has never given up on her taekwondo training. The rigorous training of the SUSTech taekwondo team and encouragement from her coach, accounting for her winning medals at the Guangdong Universiade Taekwondo Championship in the 46kg level.

With her physical fitness, Mengxia YU was also a member of the Shude College women’s football team for four years. The team has worked hard, earning a runner-up trophy and two consecutive championships in her four-year tenure.

When Mengxia YU started looking to the future, she knew that she wanted to go overseas and that she wanted to complete her doctorate. Her desire to study overseas came from her efforts to be the only SUSTech student selected to attend an elite summer school project at Harvard University in 2019. During her time in Boston, her research group performed exceptionally well. They received high praise from Harvard Business School Assistant Professor Prithwiraj Choudhary during their final project defense.

On reflection, Mengxia YU had the full experience of a high-intensity project-driven course at a world-class university of the sort that SUSTech is developing. She also learned a more extensive range of interdisciplinary skills while taking the opportunity to meet other outstanding students from across the globe.

Towards the end of her time at SUSTech, she was preparing for her future academic pathway. She knew that she wanted to find a mentor that would continue to fuel her passion for smart wearable sensors. Mengxia YU prepared for a long time and received oral offers from some institutions, but was looking for the right person under whom to study. She has decided to go to the National University of Singapore (NUS) to complete her Ph.D., focusing her research on the sensors for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

In the future, she hopes to develop intelligent IoT fashion, building a body area network through electronic skin and fabric. It would combine implanted devices and body surface communication technology to contribute to the development of the intelligent wearable medical field.

Looking back on the last four years, Mengxia YU is grateful for the efforts of many people. Firstly, she wants to thank Professor Tao YE and every member of his laboratory, who convinced her to continue forward, regardless of the challenge ahead. Secondly, each member of the SUSTech Taekwondo team, who fought side by side with her through many tournaments. Thirdly, every member in Shude college, including her fellow footballers in the College Women’s football team, and those who will bravely attempt to defend the championships in future years. She said that everyone in SUSTech helped her become such a brave and strong girl.

2020, 08-22
By Chris Edwards

From the Series

Graduate Stories

Proofread ByYingying XIA

Photo BySupplied, Yan QIU

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