President Andrew Petter, Dr. Jeff Derksen, Dr. Jie Liang and Dr. Mary-Ellen Kelm, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies

Faculty Profile: Dr. Jie Liang, Engineering

February 03, 2015

We're delighted to profile the winners of the 2014 Dean's Awards for Excellence in Graduate Studies. Dr. Jie Liang received an award for Excellence in Leadership.

In just two years, Dr. Jie Liang has coordinated a number of major efforts to transform the graduate program of the School of Engineering Science at SFU, with the support from his colleagues.

When his term as the Graduate Program Chair began in 2012, he and the Graduate Program Committee immediately overhauled the School’s professional Master of Engineering program, allowing admission of full-time students from around the world, and also providing a course-based option in addition to the existing project-based option. This has opened doors for admission to a broader range of high-performing graduate students.

To ensure the school’s PhD and MASc students were well supported when they arrived at SFU, his committee also systematically revised the school’s existing funding policy for graduate students. This policy guarantees a minimum financial support to all Engineering Science PhD and MASc students in good standing via a combination of teaching assistantships, graduate fellowships and research assistantships.

Dr. Kamal Gupta, Director of the School of Engineering Science, says, “This has resulted in a marked improvement in the graduate student environment and morale in the School, and it is well appreciated by the graduate students. His work will significantly enhance the school’s reputation.”

There were still more morale improvements to come as he continued to work to improve graduate student life. Dr. Liang and his committee then took on the major project of transforming the School’s TA assignment system, improving its openness and fairness to all graduate student applicants.

His final creation as the Graduate Program Chair was to introduce the School of Computing Science’s Graduate Student Co-op Program to Engineering Science. The School of Engineering has always emphasized an education that combines strong academic training with relevant industry-oriented skills, and a large percentage of its graduate students have already indicated that they plan to participate in this new co-op program, which launched in September 2014.

Most impressively, Dr. Liang carried out this work while supervising a large research group, serving as an Associate Editor for several IEEE journals, and administering a prestigious NSERC Strategic Project Grant.

Dr. Liang is known for his instant replies on email, and for his emphasis on advocating for graduate students. Dr. Uwe Glässer, the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences, comments, “He usually is the first one to respond to email requests, typically within minutes, to provide sometimes critical but always constructive feedback. Further, it is clear to me that he deeply cares about graduate students and the challenges they face in their studies. He works tirelessly to help them overcome these challenges wherever he can.”

/story from SFU Dean of Graduate Studies