The early days (1952-1966)
In 1952, after the adjustment of colleges and departments across the country, the College of Structural Engineering created the first Bridge and Tunnel Engineering major of China, and set up a three-member bridge teaching group in the masonry structures teaching and research team. Professor Zhou Nianxian was appointed as team leader and took charge of the teaching of related courses.
In March 1954, based on the previous teaching group, a 15-member Bridge and Tunnel engineering Teaching and Research group was established, Professor Qian Zhongyi was the director of the group, taking in charge the teaching and research tasks in Bridge and Tunnel Engineering.
In April 1954, the Bridge and Tunnel major and the Teaching and Research Section were placed under the Department of Road and Bridge engineering.
In July 1954, in accordance with the instructions of the Ministry of Higher Education, the Bridge and Tunnel Engineering major will be renamed into Road, Bridge and Tunnel Engineering major. In November 1954, Professor Yit Snitko, a bridge expert from the Soviet Union, joined the Bridge and Tunnel Engineering Teaching and Research Section to guide the teaching and scientific research work until July 1956.
In 1955, based on the former Soviet Union system, the Bridge and Tunnel Department recruited the first batch of 4 associate doctoral students, under the guidance of Professor Li Guohao, Professor Zhou Nianxian and Professor Qian Zhongyi. Professor Li Guohao was appointed as the first batch of members (Academicians) of the Ministry of Technology and Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
In 1958, the Road and Bridge Department merged with the Railway Department to form the Railway, Highway and Bridge Engineering Department (named as the Road and Bridge Department). In order to be in tune with the 'Great Leap Forward' movement, the Bridge Engineering major and the Bridge Teaching and Research Section composed of 20 members were set up independently from the Roads, Bridges and Tunnels major. Professor Xiao Zhenqun served as the director of the Teaching and Research section. The section recruited about 60 students in 3 small classes every year.
In 1959, the Transportation Research Institute of the Ministry of Communications and Tongji University jointly established the Shanghai Highway Engineering Research Institute, which includes a bridge research team and a road research team to initiate the scientific research.
In March 1966, the University dissolved the Structural Mechanics Teaching and Research Section, and some teachers from that section were transferred to the Bridge Teaching and Research Section. Before the start of the 'Cultural Revolution', the number of teachers in the Bridge Teaching and Research Section increased to 25.
The 'Cultural Revolution' period (1966-1976)
After the start of the 'Cultural Revolution', 'open-door schools' were implemented to recruit worker- peasant- soldier students to replace classroom teaching into practical courses. In 1970, was recruited the first batch of worker- peasant-soldier students to study Bridge Engineering, but after, because of the “Revolution” the Bridge Engineering major got dissolved. Then the Railway and Road Engineering majors got militarized and the bridge engineering major got respectively affiliated to those two majors.
In 1971, the Shanghai Highway Engineering Research Institute of the Ministry of Communications was restructured into the Highway Research Institute of Tongji University.
In 1973, the Railway major was transferred to the Shanghai Railway Institute, and some Bridge Engineering teachers were also transferred to the Institute. The Railway, Highway and Bridge Engineering Department was renamed as the Highway and Bridge Engineering Department, and the Bridge Engineering Teaching and Research Section was restored. Then the Road Engineering Teaching and Research Section was merged into the road and bridge teaching and research section. The Urban Roads and Bridges major of was set up, and a total of 363 worker- peasants-soldier students from 1973 to 1977, for a total of 5 generations of students. The 1976 and 1977 generations of students were 4-years under an Undergraduate Program, and the remaining generations were in a 3-years professional program.
The recovery and development period (1977-1987)
After the end of the 'Cultural Revolution', the country gradually restored the teaching system in colleges and universities. In 1977, Professor Li Guohao returned to serve as the President of Tongji University.
In April 1978, the Department of Road and Bridge Engineering was restored, accompanied by the Teaching and Research Section and the Bridge Engineering Laboratory. In September of the same year, 31 undergraduates and 5 postgraduates majoring in bridge engineering were recruited through the restoration of the College Entrance Examination system.
At the end of 1978, Tongji University established a branch campus for Architectural Engineering (later became the Shanghai Urban Construction College), with the Department of Road and Bridge was established under its tutelage .
In 1979, the Li Guohao Scientific Research Team was established, which was subordinate to the Institute of Structural Theory, and began the study the earthquake resistance, wind resistance and computer calculation of bridges structures.
In 1981, the Structural Engineering major (including Bridge and Tunnel Engineering) was first awarded the right to grant master's and doctoral degrees, and in the same year was recruited the first doctoral student in Bridge Engineering research field.
In September 1982, the university established the Department of Structural Engineering and transferred the Bridge Teaching and Research Section, Bridge Laboratory and Bridge Engineering to that Department. The Highway Research Institute was dissolved, and the Bridge Engineering teachers of the Institute were transferred to the Bridge Teaching and Research Section, the Li Guohao Research Team and other departments in the School were also transferred.
In July 1985, based on the Bridge Teaching and Research Section and the Bridge Laboratory, was established the Bridge Design Office to undertake design tasks.
In 1986, the discipline of Structural Engineering (including Bridge and Tunnel Engineering) was selected as the first batch of National Key Disciplines, a post-doctoral studies center was established, and post-doctoral researchers began to be recruited.
The improvement period (1987-2002)
In July 1987, the Department of Structural Engineering was renamed into the College of Structural Engineering. Then the Bridge Teaching and Research Section, the Bridge Laboratory and the Bridge Design Office merged to become China’s first Bridge Engineering Department subordinated to the College of Structural Engineering. Professor Xiang Haifan was appointed as the first Director of the Department. The Bridge Research Office and the Teaching and Research Section transited to a system of Subject Groups to undertake the teaching and research tasks, since then, nine subject groups have been established.
In May 1988, the State Development Planning Commission approved the construction of the first State Key Laboratory in the field of Civil Engineering by Tongji University: the State Key Laboratory of Civil Engineering Disaster Prevention, which is attached to the School of Structural Engineering, and is mainly engaged in the study of seismic and wind resistance of civil structural engineering .Among them, bridge earthquake resistance and bridge wind resistance are the two main research directions of the laboratory, which are mainly directed by Professor Fan Lichu and Professor Xiang Haifan’s Subject Groups. The Wind Tunnel Laboratory under the Key Laboratory is attached to the Bridge Engineering Department, and three boundary layer wind tunnels and wind engineering pavilions have been built successively.
In 1988 and 1990, the Structure Engineering Department adjusted the Bridge and Tunnel Engineering major as an independent discipline and set up Master’s program, Doctoral program and Post-doctoral studies program. Since then, the scale of graduate students training is gradually increasing.
In October 1989, a Bridge Engineering Design Institute integrated with the Department of Bridge Engineering was established. Professor Xiang Haifan served as the director, and two Bridge Design Offices were set up under it. In April 1993, the Bridge Engineering Design Institute changed into the Bridge Engineering Design Branch of the Architectural Design and Research Institute of Tongji University, with a Bridge Design Section, with 15-member professional and technical personnel, and the work scale has since expanded. In the same year, the Department of Bridge Engineering and Guangxi Liuzhou Construction Machinery Factory jointly established Dongfang Prestress Co., Ltd. to engage in the development and research of prestress technology and equipment.
In 1994, the University implemented the credit system reform, and experimented a more flexible academic system. providing to the students more autonomy on their studies. In the same year Professor Li Guohao was elected as the first batch of academicians of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. In 1995, Professor Xiang Haifan also was elected an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
In July 1996, the Teaching and Research Section of Bridge of the Department of Municipal Engineering of Shanghai Urban Construction College and its affiliated company returned to the Department of Bridge Engineering of Tongji University, and the company was renamed as 'Shanghai Tongji Bridge Municipal Engineering Technology Service Company' and became a Department-run company.
In 1997, the School of Structural Engineering was expanded and restructured into the College of Civil Engineering, with four departments including the Department of Architecture Engineering, the Department of Bridge Engineering, and the State Key Laboratory of Civil Engineering Disaster Prevention. Major reforms were carried out in teaching. According to the professional catalog issued by the State Education Commission, the professional caliber was broadened twice: from 1996 to 1997, the Bridge Engineering and Road Engineering majors were integrated into the Traffic and Civil engineering major (4-year system), and the former Bridge Engineering major became a branch of that major; in 1998, Traffic and Civil engineering major got adjusted to a wider major including the Bridge engineering major and other related majors.
In April 1998, the Bridge Design Branch was placed under the Tongji Planning and Architectural Design Research Institute as a part of the University’s industrial system. The Department of Bridge Engineering restores the Institute of Bridge Engineering, which is integrated with the Department. In the same year, the 'Bridge and Tunnel Engineering' subject was selected as a Key Construction Subject of the National '211 Project', and the State Key Laboratory of Civil Engineering Disaster Prevention was evaluated as an 'excellent' State Key Laboratory.
In March 1999, the Department of Bridge Engineering reformed the Subject Group system, reorganized and built research sections researching on fields such as bridge seismic resistance, bridge wind resistance (shared with the State Key Laboratory), Bridge CAD, long-span bridges, concrete bridges, steel and steel-concrete composite bridges, bridge construction technology etc.…
In April 2000, 10 bridge engineering professors from the Department of Civil Engineering from Shanghai Railway University returned to the Department of Bridge Engineering of Tongji University, and created bridge structures dynamics and railway bridges Research Sections. At that time, the number of faculty members in the whole department reached 60 for the first time.
In July of the same year, the Bridge Engineering subject was rated as one of the ten 'Top Priorities' subjects in Shanghai, and in the following three years, it received 40 million yuan funding to support its development. Those funds allowed to built the bridge pavilion building, the numerical simulation laboratory etc. To improve the quality of teaching and research.
In 2001, Sun Limin, the first special-appointed professor of the 'Changjiang Scholars Award Program' of the Ministry of Education, for the establishment of the Bridge Health Monitoring and Vibration Control Laboratory. In the same year, in order to strengthen the Industry-University research cooperation, the Department of Bridge Engineering and Guangxi Liuzhou Construction Machinery General Factory jointly established the 'Tongji OVM Prestress Research Center' to carry out the development and research of prestress technology and equipment. Also in the same year, Professor Xiang Haifan was elected as the vice chairman of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) (2001-2009), and Professor Fan Lichu was elected as an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
5. The Development and growth period (2002 to present)
In January 2002, Tongji University's 'Bridge and Tunnel Engineering' discipline was rated as a new round of National Key Disciplines with the first place in secondary disciplines, and was selected as a National Key Discipline construction project of '211 Project' and 'Tenth Five-Year Plan'. With state funding, teaching and scientific research conditions have been greatly improved. In June of the same year, the Bridge Engineering Department moved from the old bridge pavilion (now Zhiyuan Building) to the newly built bridge pavilion office.
In 2005, the discipline of Bridge Engineering was included in the 'Urban Construction and Disaster Prevention' discipline construction platform funded by the second phase of the National '985 Project', and invested 120 million yuan to build a Multi-functional Earthquake Simulation Shaking Table Laboratory consisting of four large-scale shaking tables at the Li Guohao Experimental Hall, Completed May 2012, it is currently the world’s largest shaking table test systems with the strongest test capabilities.
In 2007, the Bridge and Tunnel Engineering discipline was once again rated as the first National Key Discipline, and laid a solid foundation for the Civil Engineering Discipline of Tongji University to become a first-level National Key Discipline. In May of the same year, the Bridge and Structure Wind Resistance Research Laboratory of the Department of Bridge Engineering was selected as the 'Key Laboratory of Bridge Structure Wind Resistance Technology and Transportation ' by the Ministry of Transport.
In 2006 and 2008, two Research Laboratories of Bridge Design Methods and Processes, and Bridge Evaluation and maintenance were established successively.
In 2009, Professor Ge Yaojun was elected as the Vice Chairman of the International Association of Bridges and Structural Engineering (IABSE) (2009-2017).
As of 2017, the Department of Bridge Engineering is composed of 11 Research Laboratories, and Teaching Research Laboratories, forming 4 Subject Groups. Among them, the Bridge Seismic Research Laboratory and the Rail Transit Bridge Research Laboratory form the Bridge Seismic and Vibration Subject Group, the Bridge and Structure Wind Resistance Research Laboratory constitutes the Bridge and Structure Wind Resistance Discipline Group, the Bridge Health Monitoring and Vibration Control Research Laboratory, the Bridge Structure Laboratory and the bridge construction and information technology research laboratory , the Concrete bridges Research Laboratory, the Steel and Composite Structure Bridge Research Laboratory, the Long-span Bridges Research Laboratory, the Bridge Design Method and Process Research Laboratory and the Bridge Evaluation and Strengthening Research Laboratory constitutes the bridge Structural design Subject Group.
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