Chi­nese sym­bols mark Huang’s so­journ in UK

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By WANG MINGJIE in Lon­don wang­mingjie@ mail.chi­nadai­

A framed golden em­broi­dery of a dragon and a phoenix — tra­di­tional Chi­nese sym­bols — and a green tea tin are the two liv­ing mem­o­ries of a late Chi­nese sci­en­tist that are still at his old of­fice in the United King­dom.

Huang Da­nian, known for his ex­per­tise in deep-Earth ex­plo­ration tech­nol­ogy, stud­ied and worked in Eng­land for more than 18 years be­fore re­turn­ing to China in 2009.

He died of bile duct can­cer in Jan­uary.

It was more than seven years ago that Huang worked to­gether with his col­leagues at ARK CLS, a Bed­ford­shire-based geo­phys­i­cal soft­ware engi­neer­ing com­pany, be­fore re­turn­ing to China to serve the coun­try, but the deep im­pres­sion he left on his work­mates did not fade.

“Da­nian’s at­ti­tude to re­search was sec­ond to none. He would fo­cus on what needed to be done, take all the re­sources he could find, and come up with some very good re­search, much bet­ter than any­one else I’ve come across,” says Adrian Ben­net­ton, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of ARK CLS.

Ac­cord­ing to Ben­net­ton, the work Huang did was very ad­vanced as he was pro­vid­ing the re­search to help an out­sourced project de­velop a new in­stru­ment which was very so­phis­ti­cated and ahead of its time.

“It was far ad­vanced than any­thing else avail­able within the in­dus­try,” he says.

Ju­dith Blood, of­fice man­ager at ARK CLS, ex­presses her shock and her con­do­lence at Huang’s death, say­ing it was a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence to know Huang. She used to help Huang with his English dur­ing his six­month in the of­fice.

“He was great with writ­ing and read­ing, but there was still a bit we could try to do with the spo­ken English,” Blood says, adding “I was pleased to see a bit of change in his English when he left the com­pany.”

In 2008, China launched the Thou­sand Tal­ents pro­gram, a na­tional re­cruit­ment pro­gram for global top tal­ent, en­cour­ag­ing over­seas Chi­nese and for­eign pro­fes­sion­als to work in China.

At­tracted by the gov­ern­ment’s ini­tia­tive, Huang re­turned to China and worked as chief sci­en­tist of a branch of China’s big­gest deep-Earth ex­plo­ration pro­gram, aim­ing to in­stall high­tech cam­eras on air­craft, ships and satel­lites that en­able them to see through the Earth’s crust with­out phys­i­cally pen­e­trat­ing it.

In­vest­ment in his branch of the pro­gram has reached more than 300 mil­lion yuan ($44 mil­lion).

Da­nian’s at­ti­tude to re­search was sec­ond to none. He would fo­cus on what needed to be done ...”

Adrian Ben­net­ton, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, ARK CLS

Ad­mit­ting that he did not un­der­stand the scale of Huang’s in­volve­ment with projects in China ini­tially, Ben­net­ton says he was amazed when he found out this was a key project.

“I was very pleased for Da­nian, be­cause he had con­trib­uted so much to the com­pa­nies he’d worked for in the UK, and I knew he would do ex­tremely well within the new po­si­tion back in China,” he adds.

Ben­net­ton was not the only co-worker who had good mem­o­ries of Da­nian.

Tonny Benn, who worked with Huang at ARK CLS, but knew him since 2001 when they shared the of­fice space, says: “He was a very fine fel­low, highly in­tel­li­gent, very friendly and easy to get along with.”

One rec­ol­lec­tion Benn has about Huang is his out­stand­ing math­e­matic skills.

“I re­mem­ber him be­ing given one day sev­eral sheets of very com­plex math­e­mat­ics to do with grav­ity and mag­netic work, and he was asked whether he un­der­stood it. Huang looked down through many equa­tions on the sheets and said ‘yes I can un­der­stand that’. I was very im­pressed that some­one could un­der­stand such com­plex math­e­mat­ics just by look­ing briefly,” Benn says.

In fact, Huang’s tal­ent in math­e­mat­ics was spot­ted long be­fore by his su­per­vi­sor, Kathryn Whaler, when he stud­ied for his PhD at Bri­tain’s Leeds Univer­sity.

Whaler says: “Da­nian was very bright, en­er­getic and very skilled at math­e­mat­ics. He was re­ally in­ter­ested in us­ing pat­tern recog­ni­tion tech­niques and re­ally clever math­e­mat­i­cal meth­ods for try­ing to un­der­stand the po­ten­tial fields.”

As a re­sult, Huang did his doc­toral the­sis on the “en­hance­ment of au­to­matic in­ter­pre­ta­tion tech­niques for rec­og­niz­ing po­ten­tial field sources”, and fin­ished the top of his class.

As a stu­dent, Whaler re­counts, Huang was both liked and re­spected.

“He just re­ally got on with things and made the most of his op­por­tu­ni­ties. He talked to a vast num­ber of peo­ple and I am sure all the other staff in the depart­ment re­mem­ber him. He just was great,” she adds.

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