Anything but ordinary: Liping Wang’s 7-year journey to his PhD culminates in a virtual graduation during a pandemic

Photo of Liping Wang

Liping Wang celebrates being the second-ever graduate from the MIE flex-time PhD program during an extraordinary year.

Liping Wang has had a remarkable career by many standards but he says it’s just the beginning as he graduates from the flex-time PhD program this November. Wang and his family moved to Canada in 2000, partly for the educational opportunities available for his son. Although he already had a BASc in Electro-Optics and a Master’s degree in Physics, Wang found it challenging to jumpstart a new career in Canada. He opted to return to school to obtain a second Master’s degree in Mechatronics and in turn help further his career and become more familiar with Canadian terminology, standards and requirements in his field.

Wang is now a Chief Engineer at Stackpole International with a focus on Mechatronics. He first joined Stackpole as an Advanced Engineering Manager in 2016 after completing his Master’s degree at MIE in Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering.

“Completing my Master’s degree at U of T was very helpful. It allowed me to get familiar with the Canadian way of doing things, and it inspired me to want to keep learning. With a PhD you become a leader in your field and get to be immersed in state-of-the-art research,” said Wang.

Most PhD programs require full-time study and are completed in 4-5 years, but for Wang, the flex-time PhD program offered the perfect opportunity: he could continue working and developing his career while engaging with cutting-edge research that related to his role. Over the last seven years Wang has focused his research on automotive pumps, something that directly affects his work. He has succeeded in developing new technology that adds efficiency to how automotive pumps operate. In many ways, Wang believes creating a connection between his work and his studies contributed to his success. It allowed him to garner support from his company to pursue his PhD and create solutions to challenges he encountered in his working life.

“Liping clearly values new ways of doing things and is very enthusiastic about bringing new technology and novel ideas to the automotive industry. He is a very good engineer with extensive insight and experience in terms of what the industry needs and how to make it happen and this extensive experience helped him achieve his objectives,” commented Professor Ridha Ben Mrad, Wang’s PhD advisor.

As Wang reflects on the hard work he has put in over the last seven years he shared his advice for others interested in pursuing their PhD:

“Focus on balancing your time, you must have a plan to succeed. Reach out to the people around you, your work colleagues and your academic colleagues can help inspire you in unexpected ways. Try your best to enjoy everything you are doing, approach your work and your studies with happiness and the possibility of growth.”

Convocation going virtual this year won’t dampen the celebrations. Liping and his family plan to watch the online ceremony together and he looks forward to hanging his graduation picture on the wall next to his son’s, who also holds a PhD.

-Published November 20, 2020 by Lynsey Mellon, lynsey@mie.utoronto.ca