A Conversation with Dawei Wang

  Portrait of Dawei Wang Copyright: Dawei Wang

About Dawei Wang

Dawei Wang studied Civil Engineering at Tsinghua University and completed his Bachelor’s degree in 2003. Subsequently, he completed his Master’s studies with specialization in Transport and Spatial Planning at RWTH Aachen University.

Between 2008 and 2011, Dawei Wang has been a research assistant at the RWTH Institute of Highway Engineering IBAC. As part of his doctoral research, he was concerned with the polishing behavior of rock-forming minerals used in road construction and the grip behavior of mineral aggregates as a function of polishing conditions.

After completion of his doctorate, he became head of an IBAC research group concerned with the “Characterization and Modelling of Pavement Materials.” In 2016, he was appointed interim professor and head of the Institute of Highway Construction at the University of Siegen, Germany.

In 2017, upon completion of his post-doctoral lecturing qualification, Dawei Wang was appointed professor of highway engineering at the Harbin Institute of Technology, China.


What are you currently researching and in what context is your research important?

Motor traffic infrastructures form an important basis for a competitive, successful industrial society. Within highway engineering, my key research area is the optimization of road surfaces and road building materials. My research results contribute to the efficient construction of safe, long-lasting road motor traffic infrastructures.

What led to your stay at Tsinghua University?

I completed my Bachelor’s at Tsinghua, and I kept in touch with my alma mater over the years. In 2015, I was part of a delegation from RWTH to visit Tsinghua University – other delegates included RWTH rector Ernst Schmachtenberg, Professor Dirk Vallée, the then dean of the Faculty of Civil Engineering, and Professor Markus Oeser, the current dean of the Faculty.

The visit has led to a strong partnership and close collaboration between the two institutions, giving students and researchers the opportunity to study or undertake research at the respective partner university. This collaboration laid the foundation for my research stay at Tsinghua University.

What exactly did you do during your research stay and what are the most important tangible results of your research stay?

During my stay I gave a lecture on construction technology for traffic infrastructures, which closely resembled the content of a similar courses offered by IBAC. Topics included road building materials such as rocks, cement, bitumen, etc.; gravel substrata; asphalt layers; the concrete surface; noise pollution; and air pollutants in road transport. Furthermore, I gave presentations on the German highway system and talked to students and researchers about my studies and doctoral research in Aachen.

Furthermore, I established the “Sion-German” research group, which consists of members from Tsinghua and RWTH. The focus of the group is on the numerical simulation of highly stressed roads and runways for aircraft as well as thermally and mechanically stressed pavements. The expected results are to optimize the durability of road foundations, road surfaces, and building materials.

What are your plans for further collaboration?

After my first stay at Tsinghua in 2015 I strived to further enhance the collaboration between the two universities, and I continue to do so by promoting the intensification of the exchange of researchers and students. The collaboration is to include joint publications and joint events, as well as other projects.

In your opinion, is there something German universities can learn from those in the USA and vice versa?

Bilateral exchange is beneficial for both universities. Typically, German students learn about China through media such as TV or the internet. However, the development of academic standards in China and the Chinese economy are not widely known. China strongly invests in infrastructures, including high-speed rail, airports, and highways, all of which are being built at a high pace.

Chinese students have an abstract knowledge about academic opportunities in Germany, they just need to turn this knowledge into action to benefit from these opportunities.

Can you name a highlight, experience, or moment of the stay, that has particularly stuck with you?

I was positively surprised that Chinese students take such a strong interest in Germany. After my talks, they asked several questions about German culture, german football, German beers, and the automotive industry, for example.

Many of these students would love to get to know Germany and come to RWTH, but they are not sure whether they are up to the task of learning the language well enough to thrive in a foreign culture. For these reasons, I am strongly committed to promoting intercultural exchange.

I would like to once again express my gratitude about being able to embark on this research stay, which was made possible through the strategic partnership between Tsinghua and RWTH.

Professor Dawei, thank you for the interview!