Chinese scientist Qian Weichang dies at 97

Scientist Qian Weichang, a pioneer of mechanics and applied mathematics in modern China, died Friday morning, the state press agency said. He was 97.

Qian, a former president of Shanghai University and other colleges, was renowned for his work in physics, mechanics and applied mathematics, official Xinhua News Agency said. He was a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

He was one of the three famous “Qians” in China’s science and technology field, along with Qian Xuesen, the father of China’s space program, and Qian Sanqiang, a nuclear physicist who oversaw development of China’s nuclear weapons program.

He was born in Wuxi county in eastern Jiangsu province in 1912, Xinhua said. Qian graduated from Tsinghua University in physics in 1935, according to his official biography listed on the Shanghai University website.

He earned his Ph.D in applied mathematics from the University of Toronto in Canada in 1942. He returned to China in 1946 and became a mechanics professor and later vice president at Tsinghua University.

During the tumult of the Cultural Revolution, he was “unfairly criticized” as a reactionary and removed from his official posts within the Communist Party, Xinhua said. Between 1968-1971, he was sent to work in a steel factory in Beijing before he was rehabilitated by the party in 1979, it said.

Associated Press