The Story of Ping Fu: Entrepreneur and Source of Inspiration

Ping Fu, founder of Geomagic, may not be known the world over but she should be.   Her software company has essentially defined the field of digital shape sampling and processing. Also commonly known as DSSP, this high-tech field involves scanning three-dimensional objects using optical beams and rendering the object scan onto a computer screen where it is virtually recreated. DSSP has redefined the testing and manufacturing process for a wide variety of innovations.

Ping Fu

 

Technology created by Ping was used in the film Terminator 3 to create images that would not have been possible without her innovations in 3D graphic design.   It is Ping’s hope that her technology will assist the medical industry just as well as the entertainment industry by making superior medical devices, such as customized prosthetic joints that function and fit better. She has created products in the past that have helped change the way teeth are straightened with the Invisalign orthodontic system, so in reality she is already fundamentally changing certain treatments in dentistry. She believes that just about every product, including clothes, will be customized in the future using DSSP technology. In fact, Ping wears her own 3D shoe designs, which conveniently hold her iPhone. Ping appears to be on a mission to change nearly every aspect of existence, make it more creative and interesting, which I have no doubt she will do.

Ping Fu's 3D Shoes, created by FOC of 3D systems- photo by Mira Veda

Ping’s accomplishments, which are impressive by any standards, are even more inspiring when her background story is revealed. Unlike other highly successful entrepreneurs who received educations at prestigious schools, Fu did not attend school at all between the ages of 8 and 18. During this time, she was in a Chinese prison where she was regularly tortured. This was during the Cultural Revolution of the ‘60s and ‘70s when educated Chinese citizens, like Fu’s parents, were imprisoned or exiled from China.

As a result of her parent’s exile, Ping and her sister Hong were left parentless and, furthermore, were forced to atone for the “sins” of their parents. The young girls were starved and forced to denounce themselves with demeaning statements such as, “My life is worthless.” During this time, Red Guard soldiers threw Hong into a pond and left her to drown. After Ping successfully pulled her sister out of the water to save her, the soldiers punished her actions by beating and raping the young 10-year old Ping.

It wasn’t until Ping was 18 years old that the schools in China reopened. Ping took advantage of the opportunity to receive an education by studying journalism. She spent the following two years researching rumors that the one-child policy of China was causing parents to kill baby girls born to them. The story of her ongoing project was picked up by the publication People’s Daily, which ultimately led to the story being spread around the world where it got attention from human rights organizations. This led to Ping’s imprisonment by the Chinese government.

Ping believed that her imprisonment would, inevitably lead to her death. As Ping said, “I was preparing to die, and then I was given a chance to live." Instead of death, Ping was exiled from China for the remainder of her life. Without understanding a word of English, she arrived in the United States.

Ping attributes the many difficulties she experienced in life to her drive in becoming a successful entrepreneur. Risk taking became a natural instinct that led Ping in co-founding the now multi-million-dollar company, Geomagic. In addition to successfully marketing and selling the company’s software, Geomagic has also donated their services to a company that designs and manufactures high-tech prosthetics for land mine victims in Cambodia. As Ping said, “To heal others is to heal myself.”

Ping Fu is a true inspiration to all that one can do and be even in the direst of circumstances. It was a pleasure and honor to meet and share space and time with her.

 

Order Ping Fu's new book from  Amazon    if you want to know more about this amazing woman!