The PKU College of Engineering is a newcomer in China. How is your school different from other engineering schools in China?
Dongxiao ZHANG: From its inception in 2005, the College of Engineering at Peking University (PKU) has sought to be a top-tier engineering institution. By drawing upon PKU’s vast resources and strong fundamentals in natural sciences, humanities and social sciences, and health and life sciences, the College of Engineering has successfully created a program that focuses on engineering science and promotes interdisciplinary research. The College adopted a tenure track system to attract distinguished faculty. Most of our faculty have overseas experience, working or studying in leading universities around the world prior to joining the College. They are conducting cutting-edge research in fields ranging from new energy to advanced materials, biomedical devices to theoretical mechanics, aerospace to industrial management. Also, we enroll the very best undergraduate and graduate students from China. PKU Engineering is becoming a stage on which faculty and students can fully display their talents and realize their dreams.
What were some of the salient topics and accomplishments from the recent AEDS 2014 Summit held at Peking University?
DZ: The mission of the Asian Engineering Deans Summit is to serve as a network for engineering deans to leverage their collective strengths for the advancement of engineering education, research and service to the Asian community. Over 60 engineering deans and university presidents from Asian countries including Singapore, Japan, Korea, India, China, as well as from other regions including Australia, U.S., and France attended the summit. Topics included Engineering Education – Globalization and Diversification, Engineering Research and Innovation in a Globalized World, and Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer in Asia and Beyond.
At least fifteen college deans shared their individual educational, research and technology transfer experiences of their universities and countries, including student exchange programs, higher education system, research initiatives, and cultural communication. The attendees participated actively in the discussion and found the summit refreshing and informative.
PKU Engineering has actively pursued an educational practice focused on project based learning, can you provide some concrete examples?
DZ: For example, our Globex Design class, created in 2008, is a 2-semester cross-culture, capstone design course open to undergraduates. It requires undergraduate students to work jointly with international students in teams of 4-8 people on a design project provided by a multinational company.
This year, our students and their fellow peers from the Colleges of Engineering at the National University of Singapore and the University of Toronto, Canada are working on 13 design projects provided by eight national and international companies, including Siemens, Schlumberger, GM and Boeing. The students not only applied knowledge to design or create new products but also had a great experience interacting with students of different cultures.
What are some international partnerships that have taken place at PKU?
DZ: On a regular basis, our Globex Education Program invites foreign professors and students from partner universities to teach and study at Peking University for one summer, and sends our students out for one semester to take courses and do research. So far, 20 universities from the U.S., Canada, France, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Chile have participated in the partnership.
The College hopes that the program could become such a platform that encourages world-class professors and enables students from different countries to share knowledge, exchange culture, broaden international horizon, and enhance understandings between different backgrounds.
DONGXIAO ZHANG, short biography
Dean, College of Engineering, Peking University
Director, Institute of Clean Energy
National Chair Professor, Department of Energy and Resources Engineering
“Cheung Kong Scholar” Chair Professor
“National Natural Science Foundation Outstanding Young Researcher”
Professor Zhang is a Fellow of Geological Society of America. He has held positions as Chair Professor at the University of Southern California, Miller Chair Professor at the Department of Petroleum and Geological Engineering at the University of Oklahoma, and Senior Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He has authored 2 books and published over 120 peer-reviewed papers. He earned both his Master’s degree and Ph.D. in hydrology and water resources in 1992 and 1993, respectively, from the University of Arizona. Professor Zhang is an internationally well-known expert in groundwater hydrology, unconventional oil and gas production, and geological carbon sequestration, whose research achievements in stochastic modeling, numerical simulation, and inverse modeling are widely adopted by his peers. Professor Zhang has been an associate editor for the following leading international journals: Water Resource Research, Advances in Water Resources, SIAM Multiscale Modeling and Simulation, Journal of Computational Geosciences, Vadose Zone Journal, and SPE Journal. He has served as a panelist on the RCUK Review of Energy, UK Research Councils and a member of US National Research Council’s Committee on New Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences; he is currently a council member of World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Agenda Council on New Energy Architecture and an elected member of board of trustees at Western Academy of Beijing.