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Wearing gray overalls, Xie Bangpeng holds an electric screwdriver in one hand and manipulates a multimeter in the other. At first glance, it doesn’t seem particularly special, but in reality, he graduated with a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree from Tsinghua University.

Fifteen years ago, he turned down many high-paying, high-benefit job opportunities and chose to become a grassroots employee at the State Grid Shanghai Pudong Power Supply Company. From grounding his skills at the front lines to innovatively creating the “Dual Carbon” smart energy platform, and then overseeing top-level data design, Xie Bangpeng’s identity as a “Doctor Craftsman” continually evolves. Many people are surprised: Why did Xie Bangpeng, who studied under the tutelage of the prestigious scholar and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lu Qiang, choose to be a grassroots employee, and for several years at that? Xie Bangpeng is clear about this: “I like working on the front lines; that’s where the soil for my growth is.” Since childhood, he wanted to be an engineer, understanding that to transform his creativity and ideas into reality, “practice needs to be extensive, the more, the better.”

“Zeroing” himself, starting from scratch

Xie Bangpeng still remembers a lesson he learned in early 2009 when he followed his master to the equipment maintenance site. Confidently comparing the drawings to find faults, Xie Bangpeng checked every circuit carefully but couldn’t identify the issue. In the end, he had to seek guidance from the master, who swiftly solved the problem.

After experiencing a loss of confidence, disappointment, and hesitation, Xie Bangpeng decided to “zero” himself and start learning everything from scratch. Dirty work, hard work, tiring work — he had no complaints, whether it was on weekends, late at night, or early in the morning.

Xie Bangpeng spent a considerable amount of time honing his skills, becoming the person in his team who tightened screws, connected wires, studied drawings, and took the most notes. Three years later, with solid theory and outstanding professional skills, Xie Bangpeng was appointed as the head of the protection team.

Being rooted in the front lines provided fertile ground for Xie Bangpeng to explore various innovative inventions.

During routine inspections of transformer substations, Xie Bangpeng found that there was no suitable specialized short-circuiting tools in performing high-current tests on short-circuit switchgear outlets. Temporary tools such as self-made aluminum wire and self-made copper busbar heads were used, posing unreliable contacts and the risk of electric shock.

Inspired by clothespins used for drying clothes, he invented a high-current test universal combination short-circuit tool that is safe, time-saving, and achieves one-second connection. This invention earned him a national invention patent and the third prize in the 2014 Shanghai Science and Technology Progress Award. This innovative invention not only gained widespread popularity in frontline teams, improving on-site work efficiency but also excelled in important power supply guarantee work, such as at Disneyland and the China International Import Expo.

To this day, Xie Bangpeng still remembers the advice from his mentor, Academician Lu Qiang: “Young talents should be rooted in frontline production. It’s not only the right way to exercise and cultivate elite talents capable of undertaking future responsibilities, but also conducive to the progress and development of science and technology, and promotes communication and convergence between academia and industry.”

Doing extraordinary things in ordinary positions

In 2013, Pudong ushered in the strategic opportunity of constructing the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone and the Science and Innovation Center. State Grid Shanghai Pudong Power Supply Company decided to create the first national high-reliability demonstration area in the 10-square-kilometer core area along the Yangtze River. Xie Bangpeng, as a core member, participated in the work of protection and distribution automation in the demonstration area.

After investigations and research, Xie Bangpeng and his colleagues innovatively proposed the first domestic high-reliability construction standard workflow and pioneered a wireless remote debugging method for distribution automation. With these innovations, the reliability of power supply in the Lujiazui area of Pudong reached over 99.999%.

To transform individual advantages into collective strengths, in February 2015, the “Xie Bangpeng Model Worker Innovation Studio” was officially established. In just a few years, the studio has created the first set of dynamic capacity expansion systems for distribution lines in China, and the first use of mobile substation bypass live replacement of pole-mounted transformers, among many other achievements.

As of now, the “Xie Bangpeng Model Worker Innovation Studio” has accumulated 16 authorized invention patents, 44 authorized utility model patents, published 11 papers indexed by EI (Engineering Index), 27 papers in core journals, and has won 37 provincial and ministerial-level awards, including the Second Prize for National Enterprise Modernization Innovation Achievement and the Second Prize for Shanghai Science and Technology Progress.

Serving the national strategy of building a comprehensive national science center in Shanghai Zhangjiang has been Xie Bangpeng’s new mission since 2018. In April of that year, the Zhangjiang Science City Energy Service Center of State Grid Shanghai Pudong Power Supply Company was officially established. It is the first “energy service center” approved by State Grid Corporation of China. Facing challenges without any experience to draw upon, Xie Bangpeng took the lead in this brand-new team.

During that time, Xie Bangpeng shuttled between visits and surveys in Zhangjiang Science City every day. He realized that Zhangjiang had gathered a large number of technology-oriented enterprises and various research and development institutions, with a rapidly growing demand for energy. The traditional power supply model could no longer meet the diversified energy needs. Xie Bangpeng and his team, following the concept of “general practitioners,” innovatively proposed the “energy steward” service model and collaborated with the government to create the smart city energy cloud platform.

Xie Bangpeng believes this is a scientific choice in line with the new era’s domestic and international situation and social development trends. On the one hand, college students and highly educated talents should be brave enough to root themselves at the grassroots level, combining theory with practice, and working hard diligently. On the other hand, frontline workers should also persist in lifelong learning, continually enriching their business skills and striving to do extraordinary things in ordinary positions.

Guarding “thousands of lights” with a craftsman spirit

In 2020, Xie Bangpeng’s team conducted hazard inspections for fever clinics in the jurisdiction area, ensuring uninterrupted power supply. He personally participated in urgent capacity expansion for critical support, “finalizing the rated capacity on the same day, formally replying to the scheme on the same day, and completing the drawing on the same day; within a week, all on-site project construction conditions were in place.”

Afterward, Xie Bangpeng’s team had a new focus on tackling challenges. Based on big data analysis from the smart city energy cloud platform, they developed a series of digital products such as the return-to-work power index and the power economic index, sending more than 90 analysis reports to the Pudong New District government, Pudong New District Big Data Center, Zhangjiang Management Committee, and others.

Shen Wangheng, Director of the Data Resource Department of the Pudong New District Big Data Center, said that changes in business energy consumption data could accurately reflect the real production situation of enterprises in the Zhangjiang area, providing a scientific basis for government decision-making.

In October 2022, Xie Bangpeng acquired a new title — Chief Data Scientist of State Grid Shanghai Pudong Power Supply Company and Group Leader of Zhangjiang Center Data Group. The new position signifies a new mission. Experiences in participating in the construction of the “cloud platform” and “manager on palm” allowed Xie Bangpeng to see the vitality of emerging technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence in innovative practices. “Using digital and information means to replace manual circulation, breaking through traditional ways of working can effectively improve work efficiency and genuinely meet customer needs.”

Under Xie Bangpeng’s leadership, more than 20 digital transformation tasks covering planning, construction, production, marketing, and training core business flows emerged. Currently, State Grid Shanghai Pudong Power Supply Company is vigorously promoting the deep integration of power grid facilities and digital infrastructure, enhancing the holographic perception and flexible control capabilities of the power grid, accelerating the digital transformation of the entire business and the entire lifecycle, and promoting the upgrade and implementation of new power systems and energy internet, to better guard “thousands of lights.”

Using the “Online Power Grid” platform promoted by Xie Bangpeng as an example, the platform can display real-time information about the power grid, helping employees quickly complete load calculations and determine power supply plans, reducing the initial work time by nearly 50% and effectively accelerating project construction speed.

Persisting in innovation, daring to break through, Xie Bangpeng’s growth is evident to all, and honors have come one after another. In recent years, he has successively won the titles of National Model Worker, Nomination Award for the Seventh National Moral Model, National May 1st Labor Medal, Shanghai Model Worker, and more. Some call Xie Bangpeng a “Doctoral Craftsman,” but in his view, the craftsman spirit is about striving for excellence, pioneering innovation, working steadfastly on every small thing, tightening every screw, connecting every wire end, and completing every task with quality and quantity.

“Having ideals, maintaining faith, understanding technology, able to innovate, daring to shoulder responsibilities, and willing to dedicate are the mission and responsibility of industrial workers in our new era,” Xie Bangpeng said. In the new journey of solidly promoting China’s modernization, the road of exploration and innovation is endless, and knowledge-based, skill-based, and innovative workers have great potential.


This article is reproduced from the official WeChat account of Tsinghua University.

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