Liu earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1948 from the Central University (nowadays National Central University) in Nanjing, China (now Zhongli, Taiwan). Seven years later, he received a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering from New York University.
Lui moved to the United States in 1950. In 1955 he began his career as an instructor at New York University. In 1959, Chen became an assistant professor at Carnegie Institute of Technology (nowadays Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh and held it for two years.
In 1961, he became a senior research engineer at Benjamin Franklin Goodrich Company in Brecksville, Ohio.
Lui held several positions at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, including associate fellow in 1965-1968 and fellow, in 1968-1972. Since 1972, he was a senior scientist at the same institute and worked until his retirement in 1988.
Lui moved to California in 1988 and lived in San Mateo since 2006.
Lui was a member of an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Sigma Xi.
Liu was a fierce card player.
On October 20, 1956 Chen Liu married Siuha Anita Go. They have a son and two daughters.