Liu Jingnan: responsibility and service consciousness are the soul of a discipline―Six glorious decades of geodesy and geomatics
On the 60-year anniversary celebration of the School of Geodesy and Geomatics in Wuhan University, the former president of Wuhan University, Liu Jingnan, shared his observations on this discipline and its culture during the interview. Liu is also the current president of Duke Kunshan University and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
Interpretation of the School Motto
The motto of the former Wuhan Technical University of Surveying and Mapping (WTUSM) is “Preciseness, Practicality, Unity and Endeavor.” In the new era, Liu Jingnan interprets it from a new perspective.
President Liu believes that “Preciseness” highlights a consciousness of responsibility. “We allow for mistakes in scientific research and technology inventions, yet never in engineering science for it relates to countless people’s lives. It requires a high sense of personal and social responsibility. Geodesy and geomatics is such a typical example of this, as during the teaching process of this discipline, social responsibility development should be of top priority.
“Practicality”, refers to an idea of truth-orientation with goodwill and the pursuit for love, which is the pivot of science spirit.” Liu Jingnan quotes from Zhu Kezhen, “concern only about the correctness, regardless of the gains and losses”, to point out that science calls for a spirit of truth-adherence. Goodwill means working for truth and justice, serving for the society and country, which has already become the consensus of human beings. Beauty refers to the conciseness, and more crucially, the harmony between people and nature, people and society. Liu believes that the timely service awareness is the core of “Practicality”. “The society is developing and changing, so is the content of this discipline. To serve truth and justice, society and country, we need to serve the changing demand by improving our service methods and quality.”
When it comes to “Unity”, he says that team spirit matters in geodesy and geomatics for the features of this discipline. Geodesy and geomatics is engineering science, where any particular project can never be accomplished by only one man or within one discipline. To deal with various existing problems, interdisciplinary and cross-field team spirit is indispensable. Team spirit requires both good team structures and advanced cooperating mechanism, which to some extent is another type of academic inheritance.
“Endeavor” is a kind of pioneering spirit. Liu believes that the nature of geodesy and geomatics sets it apart as a pioneer in resource extraction, environmental information-collection and constructions of engineering. This is a field where fearlessness, pioneering spirit and innovation are required. According to Liu, WHU’s leading role in geodesy and geomatics started in the late 1980s, when the department was transformed disciplineand a great number of technologies were successfully adopted and applied. Since then, WHU has become the leader instead of the follower in global tech-development.
“Geodesy and geomatics in our university always focuses on service consciousness,” Liu stressed throughout the interview.
Geodesy and geomatics serves the economy and society directly. It has a long history and is closely related to the rise and development of human society. President Liu gives a specific explanation about the developing service consciousness. From ancient times to this information era, geodesy and geomatics serve people’s basic demands for substance, sovereignty and border security, infrastructure construction, urban design, and now the advancement of Internet and space technology.”
The development of geodesy and geomatics mutually supplement with that of society. The development of science and technology update traditional measuring means to modern space measuring technology. The development of mapping, in return, urges society to advance from agricultural civilization and industrial civilization into the digital era.
Today China is undergoing the double transformation of social structure and economic mechanism. When it comes to the contribution by geodesy and geomatics to the development of the country’s construction, Liu exemplifies, “In the development of information, resource and environmental science, and disaster monitoring, geodesy and geomatics has played a significant role. In 16 important projects in China such as the manned space program and lunar exploration program, two of them are directly related to this discipline, and Wuhan University contributes in an all-round way with its geodesy and geomatics technology.”
Beidou System, the creation of Liu Jingnan and other experts, is never pale in comparison with other internationally adopted navigational systems, such as the GPS system of the United States. China now has a complete database of technology to serve multiple purposes, both static and dynamic, both post-processing and in real-time. Moreover, geodesy and geomatics is closely connected with industries and enterprises, thus contributing remarkably to the progress of society and the nation.
Wuhan University is crowned as the world’s capital of geodesy and geomatics education. It has cultivated numerous talents and got many significant achievements. In this world leading position, its further development has drawn wide attention.
Liu says that new technology such as big data will affect the development of social economy. In the new era of big data, demand for location service covers a wide range, including environment recognition, individual demand and community behavior monitoring analysis.
“In the new age, geodesy and geomatics needs to combine the Internet plus and the ‘Internet of Things’ perceptive technology to make its own contributions in the creation of GPS. We need to build a complete system all around the world with everything included.” says Liu.
The development of one discipline cannot be done independently. It calls for cooperation among different disciplines, different fields and different industries. Liu suggests that Wuhan University has always been supporting the development of geodesy and geomatics. Now the university has fused mapping with computer science and electronic information and is exploring the further cooperation in pooling navigation chips with the School of Physics and Technology.
Liu points out that the further development of this discipline needs the strong support from the university’s policies to involve various basic disciplines in this process, which will not only meet the demand of geodesy and geomatics, but also provide an opportunity for the cooperative disciplines.
（Rewritten by Jin Yiwen, edited by Xiao Zhenlai, Shen Yuxi, Hu Sijia, Edmund Wai Man Lai）