Tianjian graduated in Civil Engineering and studied a three-year MSc course in Structural Mechanics. He worked at China Academy of Building Research then Harbin Institute of Technology in China before coming to England in 1986. Studied on tension structures at City University, worked as a Research Fellow on welding diffusion problems at Birmingham University, which led him to being awarded a PhD degree in 1991. He then worked as a consultant on structural dynamics at Building Research Establishment. He joined UMIST as a Lecturer in 1996 and is a Reader now.
Tianjian's specific area of technical expertise is in the field of structural vibration induced by human movements, such as dance floors and grandstands subjected to rhythmic crowd loading. His research includes structural dynamics, in particular, human-structure interaction and structural vibration induced by rhythmic crowd loads, structural concepts and finite element modelling of structural dynamic behaviour. He has studied experimentally and theoretically human loads generated from jumping, bouncing and walking, dynamic behaviour of floors and grandstands, and their responses to human loads. He has published over 100 articles in the above areas. He published a book, Seeing and Touching Structural Concepts, by Taylor and Francis in 2008. It demonstrates a combination of his teaching, research and practice relating to structural concepts (www.structuralconcepts.org). The book was translated into Chinese and published by the Higher Education Press in China in 2009. The second edition of the book has been published in 2016 with a revised title, Understanding and Using Structural Concepts.
In addition to research and teaching, he has actively taken consultancy work for helping to solve practical vibration problems. He led a team and took vibration measurement of the London Eye and frequency measurement of the Govan Stand of the Ibrox Stadium before and after its extension, and provided consultancy on vibration of the Wembley Stadium. The other technical consultancies include vibration of the Coventry Stand, vibration assessment of dance floors and human loading. He worked as a consultant for solicitors for providing and reviewing remedial schemes of dance floors with low natural frequencies.
He received awards from the Institution of Structural Engineers, a Henry Adams Award Diploma in 1995, the Lancaster & Cheshire Branch Prize in 2009 and the Award for Excellence in Structural Engineering Education in 2014. He also received the Teaching Excellence Award from the University of Manchester in 2016.