On 10th May, an entirely new sort of luncheon for teachers and students was held in a conference room in the Wuhan National Laboratory for Optoelectronics (WNLO). Acting as a bridge between teachers and students, luncheon is a common activity in colleges and universities in recent years. For students studying at School of Engineering Science (SES) of HUST, this luncheon was international because those whom they had lunch with were all world-famous foreign scholars.
The three international scholars of this luncheon are: Prof. Jürgen Kurths, a professor at Humboldt University of Berlin and academician of Academia Europaea, Prof. M Jamal Deen, an outstanding professor at McMaster University and president of the Royal Society of Canada, and Prof. Song Jianjian, a professor at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. They shared their opinions and experience on issues of concern such as how to cultivate critical academic thinking, how to lay the mathematical foundation and how to improve competitiveness in applying for elite universities overseas with students from SES. Their experience and guidance helped students from SES have a clear idea of the direction they want their careers and lives to take.
Communicating face-to-face with the world-renowned scholars is important to students from SES, which is unanimously regarded as the best way to broaden their horizon. By this way. students from SES can not only exchange ideas with those experts in classroom or during academic activities, but also have the opportunity to participate in their daily research.
In his freshman year, Liang Zhizhuo the boy was appointed as the life assistant of Paul Wright. Liang was very serious about the work and made lots of preparation. He said, “Even for the text messages sent to the professor, I had repeatedly polished. As I was afraid that there would be some mistakes, I also asked my roommates to look them over before sending them out.” This made Liang grow up quickly. In 2015, Liang went to University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) to participate in a three-week winter camp which broadened his academic vision.
Prof. Xu Shuhua, deputy dean of SES, introduced that more than 50% of the students from SES had the opportunity to go to elite universities overseas such as Cambridge University, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, University of Washington, Harvard University and Humboldt University of Berlin for short-term study with subsides, which gave them a chance to experience the learning model in overseas elite universities and share the advanced ideas there.
In addition to the short-term overseas study, SES also set up the Star Scholars Forum for undergraduate students. A number of well-known overseas scholars, including Prof. Kon Max Wong, an academician of Academy of Science and Royal Society of Canada, Prof. Laguna, a professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, and Prof. Costanzo, a professor at Pennsylvania State University, are invited to lecture at SES every year, interacting face-to-face with students. These lectures give students an opportunity to learn from those famous scholars and open up students’ international academic horizon.
Undergraduate students at SES also have the opportunity to participate in the research projects in overseas universities. Luo Yilin, a junior at SES, went to University of Alberta in Canada for a three-month research practice. In the laboratories of the Membrane Protein Disease Research Group (MPDRG), Luo came into contact with the frontier of international research and successfully defended the subproject as the laboratory required.
“The research system of the laboratories is perfect and every graduate student or Ph.D. student has clear research targets,” said Luo. This experience helped Luo form a clearer understanding of her own aim. Luo said. She has determined to take full advantage of the excellent learning environment provided by SES and build a solid foundation for her further study.
As one of the four “International Demonstration Schools” authorized by MoE of China, the School of Engineering Science (SES) of HUST was founded in 2013. Since its establishment, SES has been aiming to build itself into an international-style talent training and research center. The school now is under the administration of a team headed by Prof. Jürgen Kurths of Humboldt University. It has recruited fifteen international scholars as the faculty, including two academicians of Canadian Academy of Engineering and eight professors at overseas universities. The scholars are from famous universities such as University College London, McMaster University, University of Waterloo, the University of Hong Kong, and Montana State University. Taking the biomedical engineering disciplines of University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and Johns Hopkins University as the eikon, SES redesigned its curriculum system in line with the international standard, promoted “small-sized class teaching” and implemented the bilingual education.
Prof. Jürgen Kurths, dean of SES, had abundant teaching and management experience in elite universities in Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. He said that this was the first time he had the opportunity to set up an undergraduate school for training innovative talents. He said,” There are very few projects that focus on elite undergraduates training. However, the talents training should be started from undergraduates training.” Coming from Germany to China, Prof. Jürgen Kurths hopes to take advantage of the excellent research environment and the international exchange platform provided by WNLO to cultivate international talents.
Prof. Jürgen Kurths found that all of the students had very good language background and research potential. “I believe that they will be able to pursue further study in first-class universities or scientific research institutions around the world after the four-year study,” he said.
Prof. Li Xun from McMaster University participated in the design of the training plan and the syllabus of some international research team. He pointed out that when designing the training plan, the school should integrate the idea of internationalization into the teaching, in order to improve students' ability of thinking and innovative learning. He said,” Students should not only learn the existing knowledge, but also learn to think.” According to the assessment of international curriculums, students need to do oral presentation in English. And Prof. Li Xun hopes that students could ask international experts more questions. He said, “A good question is the symbol of a good thinker and also the starting point for a research.”
Prof. Fu Ling, deputy dean of SES, said that the school was now planning to send the first batch of qualified seniors to study abroad and accomplish their graduation project there. “It is a challenge as well as an opportunity for them to accomplish their graduation project by taking advantage of international research resources. I believe that they can seize this opportunity and achieve their goals by using what they have learned in the four-year study here,” she said. Prof. Fu Ling was very confident about this plan. She hopes to continue to introduce foreign teachers, establish more international exchange platforms, and cultivate students as “learners who have been thinking".
At present, SES has built cooperative relationships with more than twenty first-class universities or scientific research institutions overseas. Till now, the school has provided an extensive range of financial aids and supported thirty-three undergraduates go to first-class universities overseas for different programs, such as foreign exchange training, research practice, summer and winter camp, and academic competitions. According to the training plan, 100% of the fresh graduate have the opportunity to participate in internatiianl exchange activities.
As for the talent training plan in the future, Prof. Jürgen Kurths said that SES would continue to promote the internationalization of undergraduate education and teaching, plan to improve a number of high-level international cooperation projects such as “3+2” with world-renowned universities such as University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine). Despite being an excellent international demonstration school, SES will also enhance its international impacts on biomedical engineering disciplines, building itself as an teaching demonstration area featured with multidisciplinary research, solid foundation of engineering science, and top-notch innovative talents.