Child-like wonder led him to prestigious ASME medal

As a child, Professor Gao Huajian, Distinguished University Professor at NTU Singapore, would stare at aeroplanes and birds and wonder about the driving principle behind the flight of two seemingly different objects.

This child-like curiosity would later drive much of his research as an academic – a journey that began with his undergraduate education at the Xi’an Jiaotong University at the age of 15.

Over three decades of research, more than 500 published research papers, and numerous international honours and awards later, Professor Gao’s multi-disciplinary research contributions are now recognised by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) with the prestigious 2021 ASME Timoshenko Medal, the highest form of recognition in his field of applied mechanics.

He joins a distinguished list of 64 previous recipients of the ASME Timoshenko Medal, including NTU Singapore President and inaugural Distinguished University Professor Subra Suresh.

“I’m like a kid with a lot of curiosity, working with my colleagues to make sense of some scattered data and tell a story that is consistent with all the data we have. That’s the great thing about being a scientist. I always feel like I am learning new things, acquiring new knowledge, and that’s what excites me. It’s very rejuvenating, and it keeps me young,” says Prof Gao.

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