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In memoriam: Dr Jie Chen


We regret to announce the sad news that Dr Jie Chen, Senior Lecturer of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has passed away in hospital after battling COVID-19.

Jie was a valuable member of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering for over 20 years. He was a 'gentle giant' who devoted his life to educating students, a highly respected scholar and researcher of control systems engineering, and pivotal in ensuring the smooth operation of the Department.

Jie Chen was born in 1964 in Yunnan province, in the south-west of China, where he spent his childhood. He attended the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA, now Beihang University) to study for a BEng and then MSc in Control Systems Engineering. After spending three years as a research and teaching assistant at BUAA, he moved to the UK in 1990 to become a research associate at the University of York while studying for a DPhil in Electronic Engineering, which he was awarded in 1995. Jie's academic career blossomed with a postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of Strathclyde and a lectureship at the University of Hull.

Jie joined Brunel in 1998 as a Lecturer of Aeronautical Engineering, and firmly established himself as a favourite with his students, thanks to his deep understanding of his subject, being hard-working and ever available, and his caring approach. "Jie was a nice person and more importantly an even better teacher: knowledgeable, patient and succinct," said his former student Doru. "Very few teachers have all these three qualities altogether." This was echoed by his fellow lecturers, who said that it was a privilege to work with him – that he was impressively smart, capable, kind and helpful. Jie was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2015.

The administrative side of Jie's departmental role benefited from his impressive capability and ability to solve problems under difficult constraints. Humble and unassuming, he quietly conquered the complex timetabling of the large Department, and coordinated final-year projects like a Swiss watch, culminating in presentation days in which everything was prepared impeccably.

With over 130 publications to his name, Jie was an accomplished scholar and researcher. He co-authored with Hull's Professor Ron Patton a book on fault diagnosis for dynamic systems, published by Kluwer in 1999; wrote chapters on fault tolerance of sensors; and published articles and presented papers widely, including in the journals of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and at their conferences. He held the position of associate editor for the International Journal of Systems Science, and was a member of the Fault Detection, Supervision & Safety of Technical Processes–SAFEPROCESS Technical Committee of the International Federation of Automatic Control.

Away from work, Jie was a keen photographer, especially of nature, and was drawn to gadgets. And just as he enjoyed nurturing minds as a lecturer, he also applied his cultivational instincts to his garden and his allotment.

Professor Diane Mynors, Head of Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, said: "Jie was the ultimate professional, and was pivotal in ensuring the smooth operation of the Department. The Department will never be the same again, and staff and students alike will miss him deeply."

Dr Jie Chen died on Sunday 29 March 2020 in Kingston Hospital, aged 55. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Reported by:

Joe Buchanunn, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268821