“I want to invent a robot pet to accompany the empty-nest elderly.” “Discovering the cancer code, we can save countless lives”…These are the dreams and pursuit of freshmen of the School of Future Technology of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST). On October 10th this year, the School of Future Technology of HUST formally opened, and the first 120 students have embarked on the successive program involving undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral studies.
4 months ago, 12 universities including HUST were approved to set up future technology schools. It is great news but also a challenge. How to build the School of Future Technology? HUST employs the strength across the campus, takes the advantage of characteristic disciplines, assembles a distinguished faculty team, and targets cutting-edge, revolutionary and disruptive technologies in the future, aiming to cultivate a group of leading talents in future scientific and technological innovation.
Integration of superior resources
Faculty of the School of Future Technology of HUST deserves to be called “heavyweights”. Prof. Ding Han, Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, acts as the head, and a number of academicians and several hundreds of high-level talents from four first-class disciplines have joined the supervisor team. “Studying under the guidance of experts is like standing on the shoulders of giants. Now, we have cutting-edge science at our fingertips”, said Lou Yaopeng, a student who is captivated by mathematics and wants to venture into the “no man’s land” of science and technology with his supervisors.
A second-to-none faculty team cannot function well without cutting-edge discipline platforms. HUST has played its “trump card”, focusing on two major national strategic orientations of engineering and health, and systematically integrating the superior educational resources of four national first-class undergraduate programs in mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, optoelectronic information science and engineering, and automation. Meanwhile, HUST takes advantage of the resources of the Wuhan National Laboratory for Optoelectronics, the National Innovation Institute of Digital Design and Manufacturing and other critical platforms for scientific research, to cultivate talents with the combination of science and education. It makes full use of the National Integrated Circuit Industry Education Integration Innovation Platform, to step up in-depth integration of industry and education. It relies on international exchange and cooperation platforms such as the Promotion Plan of “NICE” (Network of International Centers of Education in China), to strengthen strategic cooperation and mutual learning with leading universities across the world and create an internationalized environment for talent development.
Gathering four future inter-disciplines of advanced intelligent manufacturing, biomedical imaging, optoelectronic chips and systems and artificial intelligence, the School of Future Technology takes the lead to innovate the pattern of new engineering talent cultivation through interdisciplinary education, combination of science and education, and integration of industry and education.
“Here, I am free to do experiments.” Walking into the advanced laboratories of the School of Future Technology, Liu Qianyue was very delighted. After acquiring AI knowledge, she wants to invent a robot pet with a “soul”. “My grandma is very fond of pets, but allergic to pet hair. If I can invent a robot pet, it will not only relieve the loneliness of my grandma, but also bring companionship and joy to those suffering from communication disorders and autism.”
From faculty lineup to platform construction, HUST’s determination is evident. Tang Ming, Executive Dean of the School of Future Technology, is full of confidence: “HUST has brought out its most valuable supervisor team and platform resources.” But the key factor is the people, and both teachers and students should set their minds to become explorers with the courage to stand on frontiers.
According to orientations of characteristic disciplines in the future, the School supports personalized development of the students. It breaks the barriers of conventional educational structure and engages in curriculum reform all for the development of students. It carries out an “individualized timetable” based on the principle of “one plan for each orientation, and one plan for each student”, and launches an open, interdisciplinary and interconnecting course selection system, which allows students to select courses across majors, schools and departments, and allows undergraduates to take postgraduate courses as electives.
The School has a flexible length of schooling of “3+1+X”. In the first three years, students will give priority to the general education of basic subjects such as mathematics and physics to lay a solid foundation for future study. In the fourth year, students will focus on interdisciplinary study with subjects of engineering, science and medicine, etc., and map out their research focus. At the postgraduate stage, students will engage in scientific research based on their respective interests. At each stage of academic degrees, it is the students themselves that choose which major they are going to graduate from.
“Knock-out system is carried out in the School, and scores of core courses should not be lower than 80”, said Tang Ming. Currently, the student training scheme requires 150 credits. The School has optimized and restructured basic subjects, and developed a package of supportive courses, including courses on leadership and scientific thinking, as well as innovation training camp and summer school, in order to enhance the overall quality of the students, and inspire their scientific thinking.
“How exciting! Classes here are completely different from what I imagined. My fellow students eagerly raise their questions and freely make their comments”, said Lou Yaopeng. “Such an atmosphere makes me keener to learn.”
In the School of Future Technology, students are allowed to freely choose their supervisors from the first year. Each student has two supervisors in different fields, who guide them to find their interests, solve problems with them, and stimulate their curiosity and creativity. The School aims to foster a more flexible, progressive and vigorous learning environment, to provide the students with broader free space to pursue their scientific dreams.
Li Yuanyuan, Chair of the University Committee, said, “I hope students in the future will take on ‘top priorities of the country’ as their responsibility, pursue excellence, set their mind to take the lead, challenge new height bravely, and become pioneers in realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.”
Reported by: Xia Jing
Corresponded by: Yan Huahua