Engineering expert Shan Xinghua has built a respected career in China over the past 22 years since she and her team have been responsible for the development of the country's passenger train ticket booking system.
Shan is the associate chief engineer at the Institute of Computing Technologies of the China Academy of Railway Sciences (CARS) Corporation Ltd, where she has worked since the mid 90s.
She was born into a poverty-stricken family in Wuyuan county, east China's Jiangxi province. Despite the heavy financial burden of the family, her father supported her to finish high school by borrowing money to pay for her tuition fees.
She studied hard and was admitted to the computer application department of Xi'an Technological University, in northwestern China's Shaanxi province, in 1991. She began pursuing a master’s degree in 1996 at East China Jiaotong University in Nanchang, Jiangxi.
There, she majored in traffic and transport engineering and control. She was soon taken on by CARS to improve the passenger train ticket system, right at the start of her career.
In her first year, she and three schoolmates were sent to oversee the initial piloting of a new electronic system in Jiujiang, Jiangxi.
"That system was vulnerable so I had to deal with many technical problems according to local conditions. Luckily it ran smoothly, realizing the computerized sale of tickets in the city. Due to the success, I became confident with my professional skills," Shan said.
Since then, China's computerized train ticket system has been updated several times. Shan has kept improving her professional knowledge and learned about everything involved in the system, making her more capable as a team leader.
In 2011, Shan's team worked on developing the online ticket sales system and made it operational in just three months. In 2012, due to the high demand during the Spring Festival travel rush, the official ticket booking website 12306.cn faced a great strain.
At that time, Shan and her team members tracked the system's conditions and analyzed the biggest problems during the day. After the online service finished at 11 p.m., they made adjustments and tested the system thoroughly.
They often worked through to 4 a.m. and needed to check at 6:30 a.m to make sure the changes functioned. That year, they worked for 50 days straight.
To further improve the system, Shan and her team have never stopped making innovations in technologies and services. They have developed print-at-home tickets, online meal ordering, and high-speed train seat reservation. Passengers have given them the online system a big “thumbs up”.
Many of Shan's colleagues who worked on the system's early versions quit along the way. Shan stayed even though she was offered a salary four times higher by another company.
"I love my career and I enjoy the sense of fulfilment brought by technical innovations. I feel happy when the problems of our system are solved and when the passengers praise the ticket services online. With the determination to do a better job, I have the strength to continue my research and lead a meaningful life," said Shan.
(Source: Women Voice / Translated and edited by Women of China)
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