In September 1995, I entered Nanjing University of Science and Technology, and began my university life. This was my first time away from parents and living alone. I was only 17 years old then.
The predecessor of Nanjing University of Science and Technology is a military academy, so the school spirit is pragmatic, and teachers are also very responsible. In university, the knowledge of exposure is broadened. I was hungry for knowledge, and interested in almost all courses.
I majored in Mechatronic Engineering. Both knowledge of mechanical and electronics were learned, but emphasis was put on the mechanical side. Now a lot of specialized things I have learned may not be used any more, but at least they broaden my knowledge view.
The four years undergraduate study was very hard. Our dormitories were forced to be powered off at 22:30 every day. Sometimes our homework was so heavy that we had to finish them in our dorm with candle lights. My admission score was not very good, but my performance in university was excellent. I got the scholarship every year, and won the second prize in the school physics contest. Almost all course exams scored above 90.
The computer course is a required course in University. I showed strong interests on computer. In the beginning, we studied DOS operating system. And the first programming language I’d learned was FORTRAN language. The class in computer lab was always the most exciting moment. At that time computers were Intel 286, 386 machines, with 5.25 inch floppy disk. Just in a few years, the operating system was upgraded from DOS to Wndows3.1, and then to Windows95.
The first computer book I bought was about Windows3.1 system. The price was over 30 RMB. I felt really expensive at that time.
At the 4th year, I bought a used computer. The computer had a Pentium 120MHz CPU, and I spent 2200 RMB on it! I already felt very cheap at that time. From this computer, I practiced all sorts of software knowledge, as well as hardware knowledge. The greatest achievement was that I got familiar with the internal structure of a PC.
My major was not computer science, so computer-related courses were limited. I was not satisfied with the basic computer courses, and thus spent my spare time in further study. I applied for computer science as my minor. I spent most of my weekends and other spare time in learning the minor’s courses. The computer science’s courses includes: C language, data structures and algorithms, operating systems, database theory, computer networks, computer composition principle, and so on. All the courses are very important in computer science. Among them, I feel the principle of computer composition is most useful. The teacher of this course was very good, and his presentation was always clear. This course reveals the secrets inside a computer. It helped me a lot and made things easy to understand when I was learning new programming languages and the knowledge of embedded systems.
The minor helped me extremely! To my current career, it’s even more useful than my major. It laid the foundation of my career as a software engineer. I was not a layman any more in software design and development.
Actually I was interested in lots of aspects about computer. I spent a lot of time learning Visual Basic language, 3DS Max, AutoCAD, Photoshop, Windows programming, assembly language, and Visual C++. I subscribed a newspaper about computer for a long period of time, and I was familiar with the latest development in computer market.
In the 3rd year, one of our teachers came to us, he needed several students who could help his project. The task was mechanical design and drawing using AutoCAD. As I already studied AutoCAD myself, I got this opportunity. This was regarded as the first project I’d ever participated. And also I earned my first income from this project.
I spent almost all of my time in studying in four years. No regrets. But unfortunately, I did not encounter a mentor or expert guidance, so my learning was too dispersed. I did not know what was the most useful in the future and which parts were most promising. If there was someone could give me some advises, even if just a few keywords: such as Linux, TCP/IP, then I could learn the field thoroughly and deeply. Such a study could save a lot of time in the future. Unfortunately, no one could give you any guidance. I only aimlessly learned much knowledge relying on my own interests.
In addition, there was a little regret: my English study was not very good. Unfortunately, English is critical to the future. For other science and engineering courses, once you understand the points, you will not forget. But for English, it requires repeated memory, and a lot of practice. I was not interested in English language, and did not spend a lot of time in it.
I borrowed a book from library – “A Brief History of Time”. This book had a great impact on me. It made me understand the origin and development of the universe. It played a significant role in the formation of my worldview. You can say, “A Brief History of Time” is the Bible in my mind.