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Photo above: Students from across China's Jiangsu Province participated in an engineering program this summer at UW-Madison.

New summer programs bring students to campus from top Chinese universities

Summer 2014 featured two new programs that introduced elite Chinese undergraduates to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s civil engineering and genetics departments.

In the College of Engineering, the Jiangsu Education Services for International Exchange, or JESIE, sent a cohort of 28 students to spend July and August learning about water treatment systems.  Students from across Jiangsu Province applied for the merit scholarship program, with finalists selected by the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Education.  The UW-Madison was among 10 American universities (including Harvard, Yale, Stanford and the University of Southern California) that hosted summer JESIE programs. 

“This program was rated highest among the courses offered in U.S. universities to Chinese students,” said UW Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Jae Kwang (Jim) Park, who oversaw the Madison-based program through collaboration between Engineering and the Division of Continuing Studies.  “The Chinese students had a great experience of the coursework that UW-Madison student go through, including living in a dormitory near Lake Mendota.”

Park led fieldtrips to wastewater treatment facilities in Wisconsin and Illinois, the Dane County landfill, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facility in Dubuque, Iowa.  The students also visited such Wisconsin landmarks at the State Capitol and Wisconsin Dells, attended a Milwaukee Brewers game, and toured Chicago.

After the conclusion of the program in mid August, Professor Park was able to travel to the Jiangsu provincial capital city of Nanjing to discuss expansion of the Wisconsin program.

“Next year, UW-Madison will offer ‘Sustainable Engineering and Science’ as a summer program for JESIE,” he said.

Across campus in Genetics (which is housed in both the School of Medicine & Public Health and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences), a group of five visiting Chinese students were involved in a different type of program, also aimed at undergraduates.

These students were all from the University of Science and Technology in China (USTC), an elite university located in Anhui Province, as part of a new program to introduce USTC undergraduates to the UW-Madison.

The group spent eight weeks in August and September working in Genetics labs, mentored by UW-Madison professors.   The students also enjoyed Wisconsin ice cream and summer evenings along the lake.

“We’ve been able to feel the real America,” said Ms. Yang Qianru, as she and her four USTC classmates met for their regular Friday lecture.

UW Genetics Professor Jerry Yin launched the program to make sure that students at the top-ranked USTC are aware of the unique opportunities in graduate research available at the UW-Madison.   Professor Yin, who leads recruitment for Genetics, said his department receives about 50-100 applications from China each year, and has tried various methods of sifting through all those applications to determine the best candidates for graduate study at UW-Madison.

“We’ve tried Skype, we’ve tried having people we know do interviews in China,” Professor Yin explained.

The USTC summer cohort is a new experiment in the same mold.

“These are top students,” said Professor Yin.  “This is all about them, really.  We are starting this year with five students, and if it works well, maybe next year we can double that.”

Pictured in the photo above is UW-Madison Professor Jerry Yin, together with the five USTC students. They are, from left with surnames listed first: Yang Qianru, Jiang Yuan, Liu Dun, Ma Ruoyu, and Xing Huayue.


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Click here to learn about President Obama’s “100,000 Strong Initiative” to increase the number and diversity of American students studying in China.



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