Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) President Dennis Berkey will travel to China to meet with leaders from five major universities to discuss opportunities for new and additional collaborations. President Berkey will also visit project sites where WPI students and faculty are working with Chinese students and faculty on senior capstone projects that have been sponsored by global companies with China operations. He will be accompanied by his wife, Dr. Catherine Berkey, and by Dr. Jennifer Rudolph, associate professor of Asian history, and Dr. Yiming (Kevin) Rong, the John Woodman Higgins Professor in Engineering, both of whom work with students, universities, and corporations in China.
Over the past five years, WPI has been forging collaborations with universities in China through which WPI students and faculty work with their counterparts on projects in the areas of mechanical product and system design, robotics, manufacturing processes, environmental engineering, supply chain management, and Lean Manufacturing implementations. Such collaborations are a targeted area of growth for WPI, and during his 10-day tour, President Berkey will meet with leaders of Beijing Jiaotong University (BJU) and Tsinghua University in Beijing, Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) in Wuhan, Shanghai Jiaotong University (SJU), and Shanghai University.
"China has not only emerged as a world power and an economic force, but also as an educational force, especially in the areas of engineering and technology," said Berkey. "WPI prepares science and technology students to become future business leaders through a globally focused, project-enriched curriculum. We are actively engaged in collaborations with Chinese universities and businesses because our students benefit from working with people from China in China. I see tremendous potential for more and better partnerships there, and I am eager to strengthen WPI's ties with some excellent universities."
WPI has three faculty members and 11 students working in mixed teams with approximately 37 students from BJU, HUST, SJU and Shanghai University on projects that have been sponsored by such companies as UTC, Caterpillar, and Amphenol TCS, and institutions in the areas of mechanical product and system design, robotics, manufacturing processes, environmental engineering, supplier chain management, and Lean Manufacturing implementations. President Berkey will tour those project sites, see the work that is being done, and hear the students give their final reports.
Due to the growing esteem of WPI in China, there has been a rising interest among Chinese students in attending this university. WPI has 371 enrolled students from China; 181 undergraduates, and 250 graduate students. Historically, WPI's graduate programs have experienced the strongest level of interest from China, and that interest continues to grow, with applications nearly tripling in the past five years. However, over those same five years, WPI's undergraduate education has also proven to be a strong draw, with applications growing from 25 in fall 2005 to 297 in fall 2010. Thanks to WPI's outreach program for international students, and also to the Chinese Student Association, which actively reaches out to incoming students, there is a tremendous support network for Chinese students on campus.