Chen-Hsing Yen has accomplished what few would aim to achieve—a trio of remarkable careers that are a tribute to his nation, the Republic of China, and to the world.
Having received his undergraduate education at China's most noted technical school in Peiping, Yen came to the University of Iowa in 1937. He earned his M.S. degree in the Department of Mechanics and Hydraulics in 1938 and completed the PhD in 1941.
Yen returned to his native China and taught in a national university while concurrently leading the construction work on the famous Burma Road. He so distinguished himself that at the end of World War II he was placed in charge of the Herculean engineering task of closing the Yellow River gap.
After moving with his government to Taiwan in 1949, he was appointed chief engineer of the Kaoshiung Harbor Bureau. His efforts in the design, construction, and initial operation of this unique harbor/industrial-zone complex have served as the model for the development of several other such complexes in the Republic of China, and are considered to be in large measure responsible for the island nation's remarkable economic success.
In 1957, Yen resumed his earlier career in education. Over the years he served as president of three prestigious universities—National Chen Kung University, National Tsing Hua University, and National Taiwan University— and as Minister of Education for the R.O.C. During his 24-year tenure as Minister of Education, he successfully extended the compulsory education of his country from six to nine years, established professional junior colleges, and enhanced the development of science and technology.
Throughout his active career as a practicing engineer, educator, and administrator, Yen has continued to produce excellent technical papers. In 1982, his peers recognized his work by electing him to the renowned Academia Sinica.
Though he has conducted his professional life over half a world away from the University, his interest in and loyalty to the UI have resulted in his urging many other Chinese to come here to study. Chen-Hsing Yen's professional accomplishments are a tribute to his character and intelligence, as well as to the quality of education he received at the University of Iowa.