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Using advanced technology, Concordia graduate’s company keeps an eye on China’s Terracotta Army

Hong (Michael) Deng’s heritage conservation business is responsible for preserving more than 100 Chinese and Central Asian national treasures
July 11, 2018
By Molly Hamilton

Terracotta Army The 2,220-year-old Terracotta Army, which includes more than 8,000 clay relics, is one of the most significant archeological sites in the world.

Preserving the countless artifacts spread over dozens and dozens of museums and historical sites throughout China is no small task.

Yet Concordia graduate Hong (Michael) Deng, MEng 01, has figured out a way to keep track of these treasures’ environments to protect them from possible damage.

Deng is founder and president of Microwise System Co., Ltd., based in Xi’an, China. “I started my business 11 years ago. We focus on the conservation of national treasures in China and countries in Central Asia, like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan,” he says.

“We monitor how the colour of the object changes in response to the environment, and we evaluate the correlation,” Deng explains. “We use a wireless network to monitor the indoor and outdoor environments of museums and historical sites. It’s real-time monitoring technology to make sure the environment isn’t going to damage the artifacts.”

Microwise System is the first company in China to use such technology. “There are over 100 museums in China that we monitor, and we’ve been able to establish the monitoring system across the country,” he says.

Protecting the army

One of Microwise System’s higher-profile charges is the Terracotta Army in Xi’An, China. The Terracotta Army site is among the most remarkable archeological digs in the world and is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

The Terracotta Army was built between 246 and 210 BCE to protect China’s first emperor, Ying Zheng, in his afterlife. The tombs where the life-size clay soldiers were found also contain weapons such as swords and arrow tips, and clay horses, chariots, dancers, musicians and acrobats.

Hong (Michael) Deng Hong (Michael) Deng is founder and president of Microwise System Co., Ltd., which uses a wireless network to monitor the indoor and outdoor environments of museums and historical sites. Photo: Leisha LeCouvie

The historical site in China is a popular attraction and a Concordia delegation recently had a chance to visit.

Bram Freedman, vice president of Advancement and External Relations, Graham Carr, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, and Leisha LeCouvie, senior director of Alumni Relations, enjoyed a personal tour of the army, given by Deng. Freedman, Carr and LeCouvie were in China from June 19 to June 25, 2018, for alumni reunions events in Hong Kong, Beijing, Xi’An and Shanghai.

Concordia memories

Deng has fond memories and remains grateful for the education he received at Concordia, where he studied in the Electrical and Computer Engineering graduate program.

“Concordia gave me a lot. The university really helped me because not only do you learn about the technical things but also the philosophy of the school,” he says. “They teach knowledge. They teach us about the reality of the world, and not only what’s in the books.”

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