I am planning to pursue graduate studies towards a Ph.D. degree at your school of engineering starting from the fall of 2008.
My interest in the building structure can be traced back to my success in high school years, when I excelled my fellow classmates in physics and geometry. This not only fired off my interest in structural design but also helped to lay solid groundwork for my undergraduate studies in civil engineering, which heavily involved mechanics in physics and solid geometry.
With excellent scores in the compulsory national university entrance examination, I won acceptance in 1991 into the Beijing Polytech University, one of China’s top 10 engineering schools, particularly well-known for its structural engineering. For five years at this university, I received strict and thorough training in areas such as building structures, building materials. Soil mechanics and foundation, concrete and masonry structures, construction, steel structure and earthquake resistant structure. I also took every opportunity to participate in co-po work and projects commissioned by construction and design companies.
Opportunities abound for civil engineers and civil engineering students in China, which now houses the world’s fastest growing major economy. At every year’s job fair held on the campus of the Polytech University, more than 200 positions compete for 60-odd graduating students. Under such circumstances, undergraduate students in their fifth year are also in high demand for internship at various construction companies and design institutes. Virtually every student gets a full workload immediately upon starting the internship and assumes considerable responsibilities soon afterwards.
I became the luckiest among the lucky by winning a rare opportunity for any civil engineer: to participate in the design of the Beijing Western Railway Station, the largest urban structure in China up to date. This happened while I interned, along with five other schoolmates, at the Beijing Architectural Institute. This institute has designed virtually all the modern landmark buildings in China, including the famous Great Hall of the People and the Museum of Revolutionary History on the Tiananmen Square, the Beijing Railway Station and the Asian Games Village. It was on the strength of my academic merits that I got to enjoy these opportunities.
The Western station project in Beijing consisted of the mail hall (70,000 square meters), south wing building group (40,000 square meters) and north wing building group (35,000 square meters). My task was to assist in the design of a shopping centre in the south wing which had 16,000 square meters. I independently accomplished a quarter of the design for the whole building, mainly responsible for the foundation design, calculation and drawing of steel distribution of beam, floor, columns and concrete piles. I cherished this opportunity to apply the knowledge I had learned in the classroom to the real world problems and I worked with my utmost dedication.
I, however, soon found out that, even in this monumental project, design techniques applied in many cases left much to be desired. When treating the wind load, the earthquake force and the effect of frozen soil, historical data and intelligent estimates were used in place of accurate measuring. This phenomenon made me determined to improve my knowledge and skills in a graduate program that can teach sophisticated know-how, such as yours.
It regrettably turned out that the design of the mail hall was seriously flawed, which drew intense media attention nationwide. The structure sank two meters after completion. As experts continue to help the court determine who is responsible, I myself have been awed by this drama and kept researching it ever since it became known.
My tentative explanation, submitted to take into account the underground water’s power of buoyancy, even though the structure base was put below the waterbed. The structure floated until enough load was mounted. The proper construction method therefore should have involved artificial precipitation until the completion of structure.
Upon graduation in 1996, I joined the Beijing Biggest Co., one of the four largest construction companies in China, and immediately took on management duties as an assistant manger at the construction site. I have supervised steel engineering, concrete engineering and platform engineering for there twenty-three story buildings in the Beijing DD residential area, a total of 60,000 square meters in apartments. In this capacity, I was compelled to learn management skills which had never been taught in the classroom. Although construction management is not what I foresee to be a lifetime pursuit, I executed my duty meticulously and creatively. I became the first construction site manager in the company to conduct experiments comparing box-weir maintenance and the traditional manual watering method. By using box-weir method, weak concrete and cracks in the concrete were eliminated. Through these important, albeit small, steps of improvement, I have derived immense satisfaction.
My vigorous academic training and exposure to intricate design problems and complex construction management issues has stood me in good stead professionally compared to my peers. My plan to further my career through advanced studies stems from self-confidence in my academic calibre and also a strong desire to solve design and construction problems encountered at work. I have researched your program based on the materials I have available to me and decided that advanced studies under your seasoned guidance will be a shortcut for me to reach my goal. I request that you give my application for admission and financial support favourable consideration.