Railway Engineer Tien Yow Jeme

Tien Yow Jeme (1861-1919) was born in Nanhai County (currently known as Guangzhou City in Guangdong Province). He was a member of the first detachment of students of the Chinese Educational Mission to the United States sent out in 1872. In June, 1878, Jeme was admitted into the Civil Engineering Department in Yale University where he took the railroad engineering courses and received his bachelor’s degree. After his graduation in 1881, Jeme returned to China and served as a midshipman at the Naval School in Mawei, Fuzhou, Fujian Province. He took part in the naval battle in Mawei between China and France. In the following years, he became a teacher in the Naval School and the Whampoa Government School in Guangdong Province. He was appointed engineer of the Chinese Railway Company and participated in the construction of Jinyu Railway (a railway extending from Tianjin to Shanhaiguan). In 1894, he was elected an associate member of the Institute of Civil Engineers, London, England. He became engineer of the Pingli Railway (Pingli refers to Pingxiang county and Liling county in Jiangxi Province) in 1900 and was appointed chief engineer of the Imperial Hsiling Railway (Xinyi Railway) in 1902. In 1905, Jeme was named chief engineer, co-director and later director of the Peking-Kalgan Railway, presiding over the construction of the railway. In this project, he introduced Janney Coupler. Jeme was the first people in China to design and build a railway without foreign assistance. When the railway was completed in 1909, he was awarded by the Chinese government the degree of Chin Shih (Doctor of Engineering). He was later appointed as co-director of Yuehan Railway, supervisor of Yuechuan Railway and served as the president of the Chinese Institute of Engineers. As a technical representative of China, Jeme was entrusted to negotiate with Czarist Russia on the Middle East Railway issue, struggling for the rights of way. Jeme died of illness in April, 1919 in Hankou, Hubei Province. His works included A Sketch of Peking-Kalgan Railway Project.