Automation science and technologies have been playing a key role in the development of science and technology in human history. Early in the 1950s Tsinghua University set up programs related to Automation. In 1970, some related programs consolidated and the Department of Industrial Automation (predecessor of DA) was established. After 40 years' development, the Department has made great achievements in teaching and research, trained over 8,000 graduates with B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, and thus has become an important R&D base for automation science and technologies and a cradle of the high-level talents in automation field, playing an important role for China's construction of modernization. Since 1993 DA has kept the sole and broad major, automation, for undergraduate program to meet the needs of technical innovation and socialist market economy, to strengthen the fundamental expertise and to broaden the professional scope.
The discipline of DA is Control Science and Engineering. Two of its sub-disciplines, Control Theory and Control Engineering, and Pattern Recognition and Intelligent Systems ranked the first place respectively in the National Key Disciplines Evaluations in 2001; the discipline of Control Science and Engineering took the first place in the National Discipline Evaluations in 2006; the discipline was listed in the first group of key disciplines in China in 2007. At present, 7 sub-disciplines are set up under the discipline, and they are Control Theory and Engineering, Pattern Recognition and Intelligent Systems, Systems Engineering, Measurement and Automatic Devices, Navigation, Guidance and Control, Enterprise Information Systems and Engineering, and Bioinformatics. The graduate students are enrolled for sub-disciplines and educated with overall knowledge of the discipline. The senior undergraduate students may take subjects in relevant sub-disciplines as elective courses according to their own needs.
Currently, there are more than 120 faculty members at DA, including Professor Li Yanda, Academician of Chinese Academy of Science, Professor Wu Chen, Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering, 45 professors and researchers, and 43 associate professors, vice researchers and senior engineers, among whom, there are 2 distinguished professors of Cheung Kong Scholars Program, Ministry of Education(MOE), 3 distinguished chair professors of Cheung Kong Scholars Program, Ministry of Education(MOE), 4 National Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars winners, 9 Program for New Century Excellent Talents (MOE) winners and 3 Tsinghua Hundred Talents Award winners, forming an experienced and innovative teaching and scientific team combining young, and middle-aged and elderly staff. An innovative research group of Joint Funds of the National Natural Science Foundation of China headed by Professor Zhou Donghua and consisting of 12 excellent professors has been formed. Furthermore, DA has also engaged Prof. Yu-Chi Ho of Harvard University, a world famous scientist on control science, Academician of US National Academy of Engineering, foreign Academician of Chinese Academy of Science and Chinese Academy of Engineering, and M.S. Waterman from the University of Southern California, Academician of US National Academy of Engineering as Chair Professors; engaged Prof. Song Jian, a famous scientist on control science, Academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the former President of Chinese Academy of Engineering, Guo Lei, famous Control Theory researcher, Ma Songde, famous Mode Reorganization researcher, academician Wu Hongxin, General Sun Bolin, Yang Baohua, head of the China Academy of Space Technology, researcher Du Baichuan and academician Chai Tianyou, expert in the field of control science as adjunct professors; and engaged Ph.D Li Shigong., director of IBM CRL as visiting Professor. By the end of the year 2008, DA has conferred Doctor Degree to 413 graduates, Master Degree to 2,063 graduates and Bachelor Degree to more than 4,946 graduates. And at present, there are 651 undergraduates, more than 292 students pursuing Master Degree and 286 students for Ph.D. Degree.
DA has powerful capability for scientific research. Many prestigious national and international research labs and centers are instituted in the Department including National Engineering Center for Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIMS), a division of State Key Lab for Intelligent Systems and Technology, Ministry of Education Key Lab for Bioinformatics, Joint Lab for Intelligent Transportation Systems, etc. Various researches have been carried out in the broad areas of control theory, modeling and optimization of complex manufacturing systems, system simulation and virtual manufacturing, networked systems, logistics and e-commerce, management and decision, modeling, analysis and optimization of network systems, description and control of complex systems, bioinformatics, fault diagnosis, information processing, pattern recognition, artificial intelligence and robotics, moving object precise guidance, navigation and control, process control, system engineering, electronic technology, measurement technology, motion control and power electronic technology, and network information security, etc.
Since 1987, DA has undertaken hundreds of nation-level scientific research projects, 62 of which reach the advanced international level, 41 are first-ever projects in China, 20 won the national three big awards (i.e. National Invention Awards, National Progress Awards and National Awards for Scientific and Technical Progress), 56 were awarded by ministries and provinces and 67 got patent at home and abroad. Projects such as Physical Signal Processing and Recognition Methods and Application, and Research on the ARMA Model Identification and Harmonic Recovery won the fourth prize of National Natural Science Award; the project of Quantitative Analysis of China's Economic Structure won the first prize of National Awards for Scientific and Technical Progress; Forecast System of Silicon Content in Hot Metal of Blast Furnace Combining Adaptive and Expert systems, CIMS Experimental Technology System, Virtual Product Development and System Integration Technologies Accelerating Product Innovation, and Research and Application of Intelligent Scheduling and Optimizing Technology in Large-scale and Complex Production Process won the second prize of National Awards for Scientific and Technical Progress; the Streaming Media Service New Technology based on network convergence won the second prize of National Invention Awards; and the New Hot Water Heat Metering Project won the third prize of National Invention Awards. The CIMS project included in the first batch of National 863 Program won the Leadership and Excellence in the Application and Development of Integrated Manufacturing (LEAD) award granted by Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) of United States in 1994, which made a significant contribution to the research and application of CIMS in our country.
DA attaches great importance to basic research and applied basic research. In recent years, it has published about 100 essays compiled in the Science Citation Index (SCI) each year. It published a series of teaching materials of Information, Control and Systems and organized the publication of Automation Teaching Materials for National Colleges and Universities, Undergraduate Teaching Plan of Department of Automation, Tsinghua University and Graduate Teaching Plan of Department of Automation, Tsinghua University. To build a first-class teaching team is particularly critical for achieving the goal of building a world top-class university. Supported by the Foundation of Tsinghua university, DA established the Center for Intelligent and Networked Systems (CFINS) in 2001 and engaged several world renowned scholars including professors Yu-Chi Ho, Lu Baosen, Cao Xiren, Gong Weibo, Yan Houmin and Guan Xiaohong to form a Chair Professor Group headed by Prof. Yu-Chi Ho of Harvard University, and carry out teaching, research and training work. Prof. Guan Xiaohong, a professor of Cheung Kong Scholar Program, and former head of the department, works as the director of the Center; Professor Yu-Chi Ho and Song Jian serve as chief scientists. The Center aims to provide a good research environment and atmosphere for the innovative research of complex network system by using systemic methods and information technology with study focusing on complex network system theory, supply-and-demand chain networks and e-commerce, network information security and sensor networks, communication networks, electricity networks, and other network-based system security and economic issues. Apart from the chair professor team, its international cooperation team for the Intelligent and Networked System Project got funded by the National 111 Disciplines Innovation and Intelligence Plan.
DA pays special attention to the curriculum development. It has three nation-level top-quality curriculums, four top-quality curriculums in Beijing and five top-quality curriculums of university level. Hua Chengying, professor of DA, won the National Excellent Young Teacher Prize in 2007. In recent three years, DA has published more than 50 textbooks and monographs, which have been widely used in domestic universities and two of which have been identified by the MOE as teaching material for graduate students of the discipline of Control Science and Engineering; DA won 23 Teaching Achievement Awards at the provincial and ministerial level, and one special prize, 13 first prizes and 36 second prizes of Outstanding Teaching Achievement in Tsinghua University. In 1989, as a result of the First National Higher Education Outstanding Teaching Achievement Awards organized by the MOE, DA of Tsinghua University obtained two nation-level special prizes. For the Higher Education Nation-level Outstanding Teaching Achievement Awards in 1997, teachers of DA won one top prize and two second prizes. Professor Zheng Dazhong was granted the Control Education Award by Asian Control Conference in 2000 in respect for his outstanding contributions to the automatic control education. Many students from DA won the top-grade scholarship of Tsinghua University, awarded as Top Ten Tsinghua Students and other titles. DA came out top with many classes obtaining the honor of Advanced Collective at city level or university level, Class with Excellent Study Style and Grade-A League Branch. At the pervious College Physics Contests of Non-Physics Major Students of Beijing, the students from DA of Tsinghua University were at the forefront to take the top-grade prizes.
DA attaches great importance to domestic and international academic exchanges, to strengthen cooperation and exchanges with famous foreign universities and research institutions. It sends young and core staff to Harvard University, University of California, Yale University and other well-known universities to pursue further education, sends staff to attend international academic conferences, and invites foreign well-known scholars to make academic reports, lectures and carry out cooperative research. Since 1987, DA has organized more than 20 international and domestic academic conferences one after another. At the same time, it also has established formal scientific research cooperation and carried out regular academic exchange activities with scientific research units and higher institutions in European Union, the United States, Canada, and Japan. Lots of professors from DA now take important academic positions at international and domestic academic institutions.
DA also attaches great importance to the cooperation with international well-known multinational corporations. In recent years, it has established joint laboratories with Rockwell Automation, Inc., United States, Pepperl + Fuchs, Germany and NEC and Omron, Japan, has established joint research centers with United Technologies Corporation, and signed cooperation research project contracts with Brothers Inc. and other enterprises of Japan.
The development of DA has been largely concerned and supported by the society. More than 100 titles of scholarships are donated by domestic and foreign enterprises, institutions, alumni and colleges, to award students who make outstanding achievements in study and other activities, which provides more opportunities in a wider range for the students of DA to get a scholarship. Currently, 50-60% of the students from DA have won the scholarships. In addition, DA, as well as the university also provides the students with a variety of part time jobs to gain money for their study.
The career opportunities for graduates of DA are promising with abundant choices. Every year, the demand for our graduates outnumbers the supply. Most of the undergraduates are admitted for direct study of Doctor or Master degree with exemption of examination, and the remaining students can find satisfactory jobs in scientific research institutes, universities, state key enterprises, and well-known domestic and foreign companies in accordance with the principle of “two-way selection”, which can give full play to their professional knowledge or skills. Graduates from automation department shall engage in scientific research, teaching, system design, new product development, hardware and software development in various fields of control science and control engineering, as well as the administrative work in the finance department, enterprises and institutions and the state administrative departments. Some graduates also start their own businesses, operating all types of high-tech companies, making contributions to the automation and information industries of China.