College of Engineering

Yuguang "Michael" Fang, Ph.D

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Brief Introduction

Yuguang, also known as "Michael", was born to a poor family in a remote village in Yi Meng Mountainous Region in Shandong Province, China, no stranger to hunger during his youth. After failing the first entrance exam for high education, he was fortunate to pass the second try and entered Qufu Teachers' College (now Qufu Normal University), majoring in Mathematics. In his third year of college education, he was allowed to take the entrance exam for graduate study and admitted to the same department for his MS degree, majoring in Number Theory. During his graduate study, he changed his field of study to control theory in addition to the number theory (his MS thesis is still on number theory, entitled "On A Few Problems in Elementary Number Theory). After his graduation in 1987, he joined the same department as a teacher, also working with the Institute of Automation. In 1988, he was fortunate to receive the admission with financial support from then Department of Systems Engineering at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) for his PhD degree. After time-consuming process, he finally arrived at the land of opportunity, working on his first PhD degree in Control Engineering at CWRU.

After a few happiest years of doing research, he received his PhD degree in Systems, Control and Industrial Engineering in 1994 (yes, the department changed its name). Through his research experience, he realized that the only job he would love to do was in academia. Unfortunately, there was no opening in control area back then. Upon the advice of his academic brother, Dr. Xiangbo Feng, he took a postdoc position in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Boston University , conducting resaerch on neural dynamic systems with Professor Thomas G. Kincaid. He got a chance to work on a joint project with Dr. Kincaid and Dr. Michael Cohen and conducted the stability analysis of MOSFET implemented winner-take-all neural networks.

After a successful year of postdoc research, he realized that it would be impossible to find an academic job in neural networks either. After consultation with his former advisers, he finally decided to change his research field and went back again for his second PhD degree. In two years, he completed the PhD degree requirements and obtained his second Ph.D in Computer Engineering with major in telecommunications from the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems at Boston University in 1997.

Guess two-year experience in telecommunications was not really enough, and he could not land an academic position after he graduated. Thanks to his adviser Dr. Imrich Chlamtac, who held the Distinguished Chair in Telecommunications in the Department of Electrical Engineering at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), he joined Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science as a visiting assistant professor, teaching wireless communications courses while continuing to conduct research with Dr. Chlamtac. He spent one year with UTD, gaining valuable teaching experience.

After interviewing quite a few universities, he made his decision and became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1998. Although he has been working very hard, developing research proposals and writing papers, he was not really successful in securing external funding.

Fortunately, Dr. Tan Wong, now his colleague for over 20 years, whom he met the first time at a conference, recommended him to try his department. Thanks to Dr. Martin Uman, the then department chair, and the faculty search committee, who took a chance on him in spite of his lacking external funding, he joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Florida as an Assistant Professor in 2000 and stay here until now. He did well at UF and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2003, to Full Professor in 2005, and Distinguished Professor in 2019. It is indeed a happy ride for him at Gator Country.

Michael is a simple man, not ambitious, never has a vision whom he wants to be, never likes to have a path to follow, which may or may not contribute to his rugged road in life. He likes the following simple rule: As long as you work hard, you will be okay.

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