Hubei professor Shi Yuanwu suspended for stealing student's work for award

Updated: 13 Sep 2012
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Shi Yuanwu
life triangle
A HUBEI Province professor honored with a top award in design from Germany has been suspended by his university for plagiarizing a graduate's work.

Shi Yuanwu, a School of Art and Design professor at Hubei University of Technology, won this year's Red Dot: Design Concept award, dubbed the Oscar in industrial design, for an innovative lifeboat called "life triangle." The lifeboat won't capsize in storms because of its triangular structure. It also can be easily unfolded in an emergency.

However, Hu Sumei, who graduated from the school in 2009, accused the much-lauded professor of stealing her idea, putting him at the center of the controversy, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. "I was so taken aback to see my design published on Red Dot's official website," she said.

Hu said she never imagined her design could win such a top award, though it had been proven to be a brilliant idea that won her the title of "excellent graduate" in 2009.

What further astonished her was that the author of a paper on the award-winning lifeboat was a professor who wasn't her instructor, while she worked alone on the project, Xinhua said.

"The two designs look the same. Shi just added some components, like a GPS alert system, inside the lifeboat. Strictly speaking, he refined my design rather than originating the idea," Hu said.

Shi admitted "lacking consideration" for the student's work but insisted that he offered her advice. "She finished the design under my instruction. I just wasn't observant about adding her name to the paper," he said.

The university has suspended Shi from his teaching job. It also ordered him to write an apology to Hu and apply to Red Dot to add Hu's name as the primary designer.

But Shi said he "couldn't understand" why the school would have made such a decision in such a hurry.
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