Doing Research and Being a Key Figure in NCKU

/ Jer-Ru Maa / Former President of NCKU

President Maa returned from his study in the U.S. in 1970 and served as the Dean of the College of Engineering, and President of NCKU. He has a fine sense of humor. Maa expanded the school campus, built school buildings, and formulated the “National Cheng Kung University Regulations Governing Presidential Election.” He devoted more than half of his life to NCKU.

Accomplished World-class Research Without Advanced Equipment

Former President Maa was born in the same year as NCKU. He graduated from the Department of Chemical Engineering of Taiwan Provincial College of Engineering (then NCKU). Maa recalls his school life at NCKU, “The professors were sincere and diligent. I learned to take up a proactive attitude and focused on both practical and theological abilities.”

After graduating from NCKU, he received his master’s and PhD Degree at the Department of Chemical Engineering Villanova University and Pennsylvania State University, respectively. His research focused on the evaporation and condensation at the liquid surface of one-component system. He clarified the past misunderstanding in evaporation and condensation coefficients and experimentally proved the correct coefficient should be around 1.0.

He self-developed an experiment technique, jet tensimetry, to measure the heat and mass transfer rate at the liquid/gas interface, which has overcome the difficulty of traditional measuring methods and greatly improved the basic design of the chemical engineering manufacturing process. He humbly said, “My research is of relatively smaller significance in the industry. However, I am proud that I achieved world-class results with a self-made device instead of advanced and expensive equipment.”

Formulated the “National Cheng Kung University Regulations Governing Presidential Election”, the NCKU’s Helmsma

Maa expanded the NCKU campus in order to create a better learning environment for students. As President of NCKU from 1988 to 1994, Maa focused on improving NCKU. He applied for government funding to build 4 buildings for the Department of Chemical Engineering, Department of Electrical Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Department of Systems and Naval Mechatronic Engineering. He also acquired land and established the Annan Campus, doubling the campus space. The new campus is home to the world’s second and Asia’s largest hydraulics Laboratory and facilitates the development of hydraulics.

In 1993, Taiwan lifted the martial law, universities around Taiwan strived for academic freedom and democracy. Ma formulated the “National Cheng Kung University Regulations Governing Presidential Election” during his term of office stipulating 10 criteria required for candidates for NCKU’s President. Such criteria included is a professor of at least five years, has experience in education or academic administration for three years or more, renounce any foreign nationalities, and declare to give up his position in political and religious organizations, parties, and for-profit organizations. He humbly said, “I do not see myself as a person with great abilities. However, I know how to invite people who are smarter to be part of the team in managing college operations and research. It was a fast-changing society and maybe someone like me was needed to be in charge of school affairs. When we entered a new era, I should hand it over to a new President. At that time, the society was calling for university president elections. Based on the university president election experience of other domestic universities, I made some required adjustments to the Regulations Governing Presidential Election to improve the election procedure.

Former President Maa, who has made outstanding contributions to the development of NCKU, is also the first professor at NCKU to receive the honor of University Chair Professor. After he retired in 2002, he was awarded the Emeritus Professor, had a research room, and continued working on research projects. Maa, though a retiree, did not retire from research. He often returned to the campus, and was nicknamed “The Relentless Student.” Due to his age, Maa rarely returned to the campus in recent years.

A Persistent Writer, Proliferating the Knowledge of Popular Science

With a sense of humor and a lifelong passion for writing, Maa has been writing popular science articles and educational articles for newspapers and magazines. These articles are later compiled into books, such as The Rhythm of Nature and Maa’ Collection.

After retirement, he took the position of editor-in-chief of Science Development at the National Science Council. He was responsible for calling for articles and “Editor’s Words” for each issue. He truly retired in 2018, when he was 87 years old. As he often invites people to submit articles, he felt sorry for them, and thus he teasingly calls himself a “Taker.” Maa said, “Regardless of age, it’s always good to be useful to the society.” The demeanor of President Maa is a good example of NCKU’s “collective success.”

NCKUer |
Class |
Achievements |

Jer-Ru Maa

Department of Chemical Engineering Class ‘52

・Assumed the position of Dean of the College of Engineering, NCKU in 1981.

・Awarded the Academic Award of Ministry of Education, Engineering and Applied Sciences in 1984.

・Awarded the Outstanding Scholar Award by China Foundation for the Promotion of Education and Culture in 1985.

・Awarded the MOST Outstanding Research Award by National Science Council for the years 1985 to 1988.

・Awarded the University Of Pennsylvania Notable Alumni in 1994.

・Awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award by The Phi Tau Phi Scholastic Honor Society in 1997.

・Served as President of NCKU from 1988 to 1994.

・Awarded the Emeritus Professor of NCKU, and the first University Chair Professor in 2001.

・Awarded the Engineering Award, The Chemical Industry and Engineering Society of China in 2008.

Jer-Ru Maa / Department of Chemical Engineering Class ‘52

・Assumed the position of Dean of the College of Engineering, NCKU in 1981.

・Awarded the Academic Award of Ministry of Education, Engineering and Applied Sciences in 1984.

・Awarded the Outstanding Scholar Award by China Foundation for the Promotion of Education and Culture in 1985.

・Awarded the MOST Outstanding Research Award by National Science Council for the years 1985 to 1988.

・Awarded the University Of Pennsylvania Notable Alumni in 1994.。

・Awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award by The Phi Tau Phi Scholastic Honor Society in 1997.

・Served as President of NCKU from 1988 to 1994.

・Awarded the Emeritus Professor of NCKU, and the first University Chair Professor in 2001.

・Awarded the Engineering Award, The Chemical Industry and Engineering Society of China in 2008.

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Mechanical Engineering Class 1948 (under Tainan Senior Industrial Vocational School)

Xue-Kun Ma

founder of Forchem International Corp
Department of Mechanical Engineering Class 1956

Richard C. Chu

An Academia Sinica Academician
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