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Two Statistics Graduates Named College of Science Distinguished Alumnus


David S. Chen, (M.S. Statistics '83), and Shun-Zer "Bill" Chen, (M.S. Statistics '67, Ph.D. Statistics '70), were honored as two of eleven distinguished scientists on Friday, April 11th at the College of Science Distinguished Alumni Awards program. The awards were established in 1990 to recognize outstanding achievement by Science alumni in professional and related fields of endeavor.

Since 1984, David S. Chen has been working with General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, where he has conducted research in the fields of image processing, computer vision, statistical pattern recognition, and factory automation. When he was in research, his interests focused on applying artificial neural networks and statistical exploratory data analysis techniques to manufacturing process control and advanced vehicle control systems. He has published a number of articles in major referred journals on signal processing, computer vision, and artificial neural networks.

David has been working on General Motors programs in China since 1994. He has held positions as managing director of Delphi Shanghai (then General Motors Automotive Component Group), executive director of new business development and planning, executive director of product development, and general manager of Shanghai General Motors Dongyue JV. He is currently the vice president of General Motors China and the general manager of General Motors China Beijing Operation responsible for corporate affairs and advanced technology management. David has played a key role in joint venture negotiations, merge/acquisition projects, product portfolio planning/development, and joint venture management. In addition to his degree in statistics, David also holds master?s and doctoral degrees in engineering.

Career Highlights:

  • Present - Working with key stakeholders in lead Chinese universities, government agencies, and energy industry to develop a comprehensive automotive energy strategy for China to ensure China?s automotive industry will have a sustainable future.
  • 2004 - Plant manager for the second largest plant for General Motors in China, which built 50,000 cars in its first year of operation.
  • 2003 - Responsible for development of a compact passenger car for General Motors in China. The car, Excelle, is the best selling car for Shanghai General Motors.
  • 1990s - Responsible for a machine (computer) vision lab at General Motors Advanced Engineering Staff.
  • 1980-1990s - Published research works about signal processing, pattern recognition, and neural networks learning algorithms in key IEEE journals.

To read more about David S. Chen, read his Alumni Profile.


Shun-Zer Bill Chen

Shun-Zer "Bill" Chen did not even know about actuarial science until after his PhD, when he learned about it from a friend. Like many statistics students, he had assumed after graduating he would go into research either as a professor at a university or someplace like Bell Labs. He requested information about the field from the Society of Actuaries. He learned about the 10 actuarial exams and about how actuarial science involved a wide variety of other disciplines such as medicine and law, which Bill found very exciting. And Purdue had given him a good background to deal with the technical part of actuarial science.

Every day Bill spends his time doing three things: (1) creating marketing and generating revenue; (2) solving an internal crisis; and (3) making sure the financial bottom-line is doing well. "Every day in business I have a crisis?every crisis is different. Every day is different," he says. While that may sound stressful to some, Bill clearly revels in the excitement each crisis brings. "Doing a PhD helped me learn to think." Bill advises that the research ability statistics student learn in school will help them substantially in dealing with reality. "Statistics taught me how to analyze the alternatives," he says, and to make a good decision for how to handle a crisis and when to take risks. Few CEOs have the statistical background Bill has, and he feels it puts him at a distinct advantage.

Last year, Bill received the Outstanding Alumni Award in Actuarial Science from the Departments of Statistics and the Department of Mathematics.

Career Highlights:

  • 1989 - Named president and CEO of The New Era Group
  • 1985 - Became senior vice president, chief actuary, and board member of Columbia Universal Life
  • 1981 - Named senior vice president and chief actuary for Great Southern Life
  • 1971 - Joined Liberty Life as an assistant actuary

To read more about Shun-Zer "Bill" Chen, read his Alumni Profile.


More information about the Statistics alums selected for the College of Science Distinguished Alumni Award, can be found by visiting the Department of Statistics' College of Science Distinguished Alumni page.

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