I’m a senior undergraduate student studying Computer Science at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) and an incoming student to Carnegie Mellon University.
My real name is Chi Zhang. However, as the name is too common in Chinese culture, I’m generally referred to Alex Chi.
In my second year at SJTU, I applied for a research internship. It turned out that the whole experience was a disaster for me. I had nothing to do for half a year except attend weekly lab meetups. I had no idea what the team was doing or what I could do. I suffered a lot, questioning myself, “Am I qualified for this position?” The next semester I quit that team. Only then did I find myself more of an engineer than a researcher.
During my third year in SJTU, I lost interest in most of my courses, where teachers tediously taught outdated materials, and our students competed for GPA in a non-sense way. It is relatively easy for me to get a high score, but I could hardly learn anything throughout the process. I criticized on how our university educates our students   and made efforts to improve the current situation. After that, some professors took my advice and made their course more approachable and meaningful.
Luckily, after long frustration and struggling, I have a vague idea of what my future life should become: do solid work, build exciting things and make software used by a large community.
I have focused on building system software for the past three years, especially database systems. I built AgateDB during my internship in PingCAP, worked on TerarkDB for Zoned Namespace SSDs at ByteDance, and am now building a streaming database product called RisingWave at Singularity Data.
Also, I love becoming part of the open-source community. I’m currently the TiKV project’s maintainer. In addition, I maintain several widely-used projects like SJTUG mirror and SJTUThesis in the SJTUG community. Furthermore, to enable more and more students to learn about the database, I built an educational OLAP database called RisingLight with my colleagues in Singularity Data.
For the future, I am constantly seeking opportunities to build things that interest me, excite me, and impact people.Updated at Apr 10, 2022