There must be something special about this fusion thing. Otherwise it is hard to understand why these people don't even think about retiring after their 65th birthday, simply enjoying life under that famous coconut tree or checking out the golf courses of the West Indies? "Well," Peide Weng explains, one charming representative of this species who has just signed a three-year contract with the ITER Organization, "what else should we do now that ITER is happening? Do you really think we can step back after all these years and watch what is happening here from the second row?"
Taking a closer look at Peide Weng's career, the answer is clear. Born in Shanghai, Peide graduated in mechanical engineering at the Beijing Institute of Technology. The Cultural Revolution put a sudden hold on his career, as he was forced to leave University and manufacture tools in a remote factory instead. When the first political storm had calmed down, Peide was allowed to continue where he had stopped. He picked up a job as engineer at the Institute for Plasma Physics at the Academy of Science in Hefei, where he worked on the early Chinese tokamaks, the HT-6M and the HT-7, one of the first superconducting tokamaks in China. "I had no clue about superconductivity when we started, but I was eager to learn," he says. And that not only holds for the holy grail of physics. Besides perfect English, Peide can speak a little Russian and German. The latter he learned during his two years spent at IPP in Garching where he worked on the ASDEX Upgrade.
In 1991 he was appointed deputy Director of the Institute in Hefei and when the Chinese Government decided to build EAST in 1997, Peide took on the role of Chief Engineer of the project. He was also involved in the negotiations for China's participation in the ITER project in 2003. So, ITER will be the fourth tokamak Peide, who is in charge of integration, has worked on during his career. Although Peide's job is strictly technical, it gets a diplomatic touch from time to time. People participating in the weekly Project Progress meetings will know what this means.
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