Delegation from Taiwan visits Purdue, highlights 70 years of collaboration

Around 30 administrators, experts, scholars and student affairs professionals from Taiwan's National Cheng Kung University recently visited Purdue University to celebrate 70 years of collaboration.
Group photo
Purdue President Mitch Daniels shared with NCKU President Huey-Jen Jenny Su (pictured in center), and members of her delegation his experiences in Asia and stressed the critical role Taiwan can play in the global arena.

Around 30 administrators, experts, scholars and student affairs professionals from Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) recently visited Purdue University to celebrate 70 years of collaboration. The trip came on the heels of a visit to Taiwan by Purdue Engineering officials and Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb in which they signed letters of intent with NCKU and National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University (NYCU) to promote industrial upgrades and talent cultivation in both countries. 

The bilateral cooperation agreement with NCKU means that Purdue will identify researchers to participate jointly in instrumentation and control design, semiconductor manufacturing and packaging, data science, aerospace and healthcare projects. Both sides will sponsor academic exchange visits among faculty members and students as well as establish joint collaborations to support research and workforce development.

NCKU President Huey-Jen Jenny Su led the delegation, meeting with President Mitch Daniels, President-elect Mung Chiang and several faculty members across campus. During a private dinner Aug. 29 at the Purdue Memorial Union, Su told attendees that the two universities share similar roles in their histories.

“It must have been fated for NCKU and Purdue University to become such close partners despite the boundaries of time and distance,” Su said.

Woman speaking at a banquet
National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) President Huey-Jen Jenny Su voices her appreciation of the 70-year collaboration with Purdue during an Aug. 29 dinner at the Purdue Memorial Union.

Established initially as Tainan Technical College in 1931, NCKU emerged in response to the demands of national industrial development. Similarly, Purdue, as a land grant university, has shouldered the critical task of supporting nationwide development of the agricultural and mechanical industries, Su said.

Chiang recognized and commended the long-standing cooperation between the two universities. He explained that the seven-decade partnership began when the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) asked Purdue to help update academic institutions in Taiwan and transform the island’s industries. In response, then-Purdue President Frederick L. Hovde led several faculty members to teach at NCKU, including the “First Lady of Engineering” and Purdue’s first female engineering faculty member, Lillian Gilbreth.

Between 1952-65, Purdue helped revolutionize NCKU into an economic and academic driver and a comprehensive research university by sharing expertise and providing upgraded technology and equipment. To commemorate the collaboration during this era, the NCKU Museum curated an exhibition that was shared with dinner attendees.

During a visit to NCKU in 2018, Chiang signed an agreement with NCKU to establish a dual degree program and innovative model of collaboration through online coursework. Also that year, NCKU was visited by three additional engineering faculty: George Chiu, professor of mechanical engineering and assistant dean for Global Engineering Programs and Partnerships; Dimitri Peroulis, then-Reilly Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (and now Michael and Katherine Birck Head of Electrical and Computer Engineering); and Tom Shih, then-J. William Uhrig and Anastasia Vournas Head of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

For years, there have been close ties between the two universities’ faculties. Of the 602 NCKU professors who graduated from U.S. universities, 29 are Purdue alumni, making Purdue the most common alma mater among the faculty.

Mung Chiang, Mark Lundstrom and Huey-Jen Jenny Su talking
Mung Chiang, Purdue president-elect, and Mark Lundstrom, interim dean of the College of Engineering, chat with NCKU President Huey-Jen Jenny Su following a dinner commemorating the universities’ 70-year history.

Mark Lundstrom, interim dean of the College of Engineering and special advisor on microelectronics to the executive vice president for strategic initiatives, described the Purdue-NCKU partnership as “everlasting.” He voiced his approval of the start of a summer session at the NCKU Academy of Innovative Semiconductor and Sustainable Manufacturing and the admission of the third class of NCKU-Purdue dual degree students.

As he reflected on the rich history of Purdue and NCKU’s relationship, Lundstrom shared that from 1953-56, Purdue sent a team of faculty led by Chemical Engineering Professor Norris Shreve to serve as advisors to NCKU, helping to improve teaching practices, strengthen course labs and enhance lab facilities.

During the visit, faculty members from both universities engaged in productive discussions on joint research programs in the areas of semiconductors, sustainable manufacturing, AI, 5G, entrepreneurship, industrial innovation, electrical engineering, computer science, aeronautics and astronautics, physics, nursing, and Asian studies and languages. Before the delegation’s departure, Su and Chiu co-chaired a final report meeting, during which NCKU professors shared highlights of their encounters with their Purdue counterparts.

“What a privilege for all of us engaged in the past, present and future of this NCKU-Purdue partnership,” said Su, summing up the delegation’s time on campus. “Our return trip to Purdue is a sincere tribute to our U.S. friends and our profound commitment to building a visionary future together.”

Chiang and Su
Chiang accepts a print of the NCKU Future Venue, symbolic construction during the university’s transformative years.