As one of just the second undergraduate class to graduate from ShanghaiTech, Xie Zhiqiang feels the immense influence he and his classmates have had on the development of the university. “We students shaped something here at the school,” he says with pride. His four years here were about constantly challenging himself and discovering new things.
Entering as a freshman, Xie started out as a chemistry major in the School of Physical Science and Technology, having done well at a national chemistry competition in high school. “But in my first year, I realized that the classes and professors in SIST were much more suitable for me,” he said, explaining why he switched majors, a choice few make at ShanghaiTech.
Xie became very involved in extracurricular activities while at ShanghaiTech, as one of the co-founders of Lavida Lab, and a founder of GeekPie_HPC, a division of the popular GeekPie club. His participation in these groups took him to competitions, including the KONE Hackathon, which his team won a gold medal at. He also found time to be part of the movie club.
The memories that he most cherishes at ShanghaiTech will be achieving a 4.0 GPA last semester, traveling to Guizhou for a Social Engagement summer program, and spending time with his girlfriend, a fellow student who will also continue on as a graduate student at ShanghaiTech.
Xie was chosen as a Microsoft Interns for Stars of Tomorrow and spent a half year in Beijing working at the company. Coming back to campus was a big change for him. “The change is more about myself not the situation,” he said, citing his personal need to find a better work-life balance and his new long distance running hobby as part of his new life.
Xie, who won a National Scholarship and will continue on at ShanghaiTech after graduation in a Master’s degree program, said even though he is staying at the same university, he expects that his graduate school experience will be very different from his four years as an undergraduate. “I’ll switch from just learning something to targeting some problem and make some contribution. I have to question again and again what is the important question and I’ll tackle.”
Xie said that professors and deans have given him valuable advice, including one who told him to always challenge himself and try new things. If he could give incoming students just one piece of advice, he said, he would tell them, “Do something you are passionate about. That’s what it’s all about. You will feel energy from that.”