Goodman Extends BEACON’s Collaborations in China

This post is by BEACON’s Executive Director Erik Goodman.

On Oct. 19, 2019, I left East Lansing for China, with stops in Shantou, Guangzhou and Shanghai. I received a warm and wonderful reception everywhere I went, in spite of tariffs, trade wars, and all the political difficulties that fill the news.

My first stop was in Shantou, on the southern coast of China, a few hours from Guangzhou, Shenzhen and HongKong. At Shantou University, I was warmly welcomed by Prof. Zhun Fan (on left with his wife, her parents, and son, and yes, the ChaoShan-style food was yummy! Zhun is a former doctoral advisee of mine, and he now leads the Laboratory for Robotics and Intelligent Manufacturing, and also the Provincial Key Laboratory for Digital Signal and Information Processing (DSIP). BEACON is a co-founder of a joint center, the Center for Evolutionary Intelligence and Robotics, established between Prof. Fan’s laboratory and BEACON, with additional partners at Guangdong University of Technology and Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. During four days in Shantou, I gave three lectures and heard reports from students and faculty about their research progress. Discussions led to many new ideas to explore. I met with Shantou University Provost Wang to review our past collaboration and investigate the possibility of broadening it next year to include more participation in the application of evolutionary computation to civil engineering. Prof. Wang is an expert in structural health monitoring and energy capture to power sensors, areas in which MSU CEE also has expertise. During the visit, the provincial government announced continuing support for the DSIP Key Laboratory, and also 1M RMB (about US$140,000) in support of the activities of the joint center with BEACON. The joint center received an excellent rating from the government on its operations to date. Included in that are Goodman’s annual visits and the visit of Chaoda Peng, a graduate student at Guangdong University of Technology, to BEACON for two years, working with Goodman. Peng is advised by Prof. Hailin Liu, who has also been a long-term visitor to BEACON.

The next stop was Guangdong University of Technology, in Guangzhou, a 3-hour train ride from Shantou (a “slow” train—only 120mph). I was hosted by Prof. Hailin Liu and gave a presentation on recent work I am involved in at BEACON, and met with students and faculty involved in evolutionary computation. In the evening, they took me on a river tour of downtown Guangzhou, and the picture shows how much more light show there is in Guangzhou than in Times Square, New York! Coordinated moving images on a series of a dozen or more buildings! Absolutely spectacular!

Goodman with Prof. Lihong Xu, BEACON Advisory Professor, at Tongji University, with advertisement of Goodman’s lecture.

I then returned to Shanghai and met for two days with the greenhouse control team at Tongji University, in a collaboration extending more than ten years, resulting in dozens of joint papers and in control systems being tested in commercial-sized greenhouses. Yuanping Su and Chunteng Bao are BEACON visitors working with me this year, and I was delighted to participate in the doctoral defense of Leilei Cao, who was another two-year visitor in BEACON. His work was nominated for an outstanding dissertation award. I lectured at Tongji University to about two hundred graduate students about our recent work on evolutionary deep learning and about my solid fuel rocket optimization work using a heterogeneous parallel genetic algorithm. I also gave a similar talk at East China Normal University the next day, for about 50 graduate students.

Then it was off to India for a month of collaboration on a short course, industry workshop, and book, with BEACON’s Prof. Kalyanmoy Deb and two distinguished Indian scholars. But that’s for another blog!

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