Prof. Mai received his PhD, DSc and DSc (honoris causa) degrees from the University of Hong Kong in 1972, 1999 and 2013 respectively. In 1976, Mai joined the University of Sydney, where he obtained his DEng in 1999, and is now a University Chair and Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
Throughout the years, Mai has maintained close ties to academic institutions in Hong Kong and China. From 1993 to 1995, as the Acting Head, Mai helped build up the Mechanical Engineering (currently known as Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering) Department and the Advanced Engineering Materials Facilities at HKUST. Mai also held positions in many local and overseas universities including the University of Hong Kong, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Peking University, South China University of Technology, and others.
As a highly cited researcher in materials science, Mai's main research interests include (1) materials science and engineering covering processing-structure-property relations, manufacturing and development of innovative materials; (2) smart materials, eco-materials and biomimetics; (3) nanomaterials and nanoengineering; (4) fracture and fatigue mechanics of materials and structures; (5) design, characterization and mechanics of interfaces/interphases; and (6) tribology and surface engineering and science.
Mai’s devotion to scientific research has gained international prestige. He is a recipient of the Takeo Yokobori Gold Medal of the International Congress on Fracture (2013), the A. A. Griffith Medal and Prize of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (2016), the Scala Award and World Fellowship of the International Committee on Composite Materials (2015), and the AGM Michell Medal of the Engineers Australia (2016).
In 2010, Mai was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to engineering. He was also elected to the Fellowships of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering in 1992, the Australian Academy of Science in 2001, the UK Royal Society in 2008 and the UK Royal Academy of Engineering in 2011. In 2017, he was elected Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.