IST delegates visit China to forge partnerships for the college

As part of a long-term globalization initiative at Penn State, David Hall, dean of the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), along with Penn State President Graham Spanier and a delegation of faculty members that included seven IST professors, visited China earlier this summer. The purpose of the trip was to strengthen ties with Peking University, a major research university located in Beijing, as well as to explore further opportunities for collaboration with Chinese universities.

The IST faculty members who participated were John YenChao ChuHeng XuLuke ZhangErika PooleJames Wang and Dinghao Wu.

During the visit, two university-wide agreements were signed by Spanier and Peking University President Zhou Qifeng: a Penn State/Peking University Global Collaboration, in which Penn State faculty members in science, business and IST would collaborate on projects with Peking University faculty; and an agreement for an undergraduate student exchange, in which Penn State students can take classes at Peking University, and vice versa, while only paying tuition at their home university and receiving full credit for all courses.

For the College of IST, Hall said, the trip to China had dual purposes: to formalize agreements with Peking University regarding the development of a joint research center and future collaboration on graduate-level education; and to conduct workshops in Beijing and Peking University’s new graduate campus in Wuxi on the topics of smart materials, information technology, sensor networks and related technologies.

Partnerships between the College of IST and Chinese universities are mutually beneficial, Hall said. The College of IST has funded seed research projects in China, including smart-sensor networks and energy-efficient buildings. Chinese universities also are conducting research in the areas of human-computer interaction and brain scans.

The College of IST and Peking University’s School of Software and Microelectronics (SSM) are in the process of negotiating two memorandums of agreement:

-- First, to facilitate the establishment of a Penn State/Peking University Center of Information Sciences and Technology. The purpose of the center will be to collaborate in joint research projects and multidisciplinary research in information sciences and technology. The center will serve as a hub for innovative research and global education, and will provide an institutional umbrella for interacting with industry, the U.S. and Chinese governments, and local communities. IST is hoping to collaborate with SSM in the areas of software, gamma technologies, media, energy and microelectronics. The benefits of such a collaboration would be that Penn State and Peking University researchers could work together to solve problems in areas such as energy, the environment, health and transportation, said Yen, who is director of strategic research initiatives at IST, professor of IST and affiliate professor of computer science and engineering.

The center is proposed to be located at Peking University’s Wuxi campus, which has about 3,000 students. The Center will be co-administered by two directors -- one from Peking University and the other from Penn State -- and will have active participation of faculty and staff from both institutions. While they were in Wuxi, members of the IST delegation also visited several companies with which IST could collaborate in the future.

-- The second memorandum proposes a collaborative graduate education program that integrates a master of science degree at Peking University with a doctoral degree at Penn State. There also are talks to expand IST’s master of professional studies programs in information sciences and homeland security into China. Both programs are designed to give working professionals the skills they need to further their careers with an online degree program. Under the agreement, students at Chinese universities could enroll in the online programs and IST faculty periodically would be able to visit China to teach classes, said Chu, director of professional master’s degrees at IST, a professor of IST and an affiliate professor of management science and information systems in the Smeal College of Business. The arrangement likely will start next year.

Last Updated August 11, 2011