Global learning experiences for Weldon School students launched in China

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Weldon School undergraduate students interested in having a global learning experience without interrupting their plan of study or delaying their time to graduation can now choose among two opportunities in China in addition to programs in Ireland, Denmark, and Switzerland. The China programs include a for-credit one-semester study abroad program in Shanghai and a summer research dual exchange program in Beijing.

Shanghai Jiao Tong University

The Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) program is a new one-semester study abroad program that takes place entirely at the SJTU, one of the best engineering colleges in China. Students participating in the program will take technical elective classes and classes that improve their understanding of China and Chinese culture. In addition, they may get clinical research exposure at the Med-X Research Institute and its partnering hospitals. The program is specifically geared for 6th-semester Weldon School students and will launch in spring 2016. The selection process will begin soon for a student who will be the first participant of this program.

“We already have a lot of great connections with SJTU,” says Nan Kong, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and the lead faculty member of the Purdue-SJTU exchange program. Other schools within the College of Engineering already have exchange programs with SJTU. In addition, Kong notes that the Confucius Institute at Purdue also partners with SJTU to teach Chinese to Purdue students.

Shanghai is an ideal location for a study abroad experience for biomedical engineering students. Not only is it one of the largest cities in the world, but many world-class biomedical companies have their Asia-Pacific headquarters and facilities in the region. The proximity of the university to this burgeoning industry supports an exciting synergy between biomedical engineers, healthcare providers, and medical researchers.

Purdue-Tsinghua Undergraduate Research Dual Exchange

The Purdue-Tsinghua Undergraduate Research Dual Exchange is a two-way team research program that takes place at both Tsinghua University, the top engineering school in China, and Purdue University. The program is currently organized by the Purdue College of Engineering Office of Professional Practice.

“Tsinghua has long been regarded one of our key strategic partners,” says Kong who serves as the Weldon School faculty contact of the dual exchange program. “It is of the best interest to our Weldon School faculty and students to develop collaborations in various aspects of research and education.”

The program occurs during the summer semester. Students from both institutions form cross-cultural teams that undertake collaborative interdisciplinary research projects for a period of ten weeks. Intensive research is first conducted in a Tsinghua University lab for five weeks, from June to mid-July. The students then have the opportunity to travel for a week before continuing their research for five plus weeks at Purdue. Purdue and Tsinghua students collaborate with each other and with faculty from both universities on a research project, for which they will receive college credit. Many of the past and current projects are focused on biomedical data mining and pattern recognition. For example, Drs. Kong and Cheng have jointly advised Purdue and Tsinghua students on in-vivo Raman spectroscopic imaging and analysis. Compared to other one-way study abroad or research programs, this program is unique in that the dual exchange format promotes the continuity of the global learning experience for the American students even after they return from China.

All of the global experiences highlighted by the Weldon School give students the opportunity to make cross-cultural connections and gain experience working with interdisciplinary teams. Students who are interested in the China programs should speak to Kong. Students who are interested in any of the study abroad programs should also speak with academic advisor Kate Marrero at the earliest opportunity so a plan of study can be developed to accommodate the international program of interest.