After driving the Bullet Train in the Beijing Jiaotong University engineering lab’s full-size simulator, five University of Nevada, Reno engineering students got a quiet, luxurious 300 mph ride on the actual Bullet Train from Beijing to Tianjin and back.
The undergraduate students, participating in an exclusive summer camp for international students, toured the world-class wind tunnel facility and a half-dozen other labs at the prestigious university in China’s capital city. They attended technical lectures in the mornings and toured cultural attractions and construction sites in the afternoons.
“The technical sessions were like a typical college classroom, but seeing the labs, touring engineering projects around the city – we realized how isolated we can be in Reno and how quickly they’ve developed there; kind of an engineering shock,” Amaad Sulharia, a sophomore at the University of Nevada, Reno and McQueen High School graduate, said.
“It’s important for our students to get global perspective and training, whether they go to work for a global company, do business from Nevada with an international company or engage in research after graduation,” Dean Manos Maragakis of the College of Engineering said. “This will help put them at the top of their field, whether it’s civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering or computer and science engineering. This will help them to be successful in the increasingly competitive workplace.”
As part of its global initiative, the college’s global presence for research and teaching is growing. The college has entered into student exchange agreements with universities in China, Japan, South Korea, Spain and Germany, enabling Nevada students to study internationally, as well as bringing students to Nevada from other parts of the world.
The students visited the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and National Stadium with thirty other students from around the world. They learned about the culture of the country and how engineering students are educated, trained and enter the workforce. It opened horizons for them and opened their eyes to what’s beyond Reno and the Sierra Nevada.
“As a student, it is very easy to become boxed into a world of excessive amounts of homework and local knowledge,” Sulharia, who is studying chemical engineering, said. “I was blessed that the College of Engineering allowed me to attend this International Engineering Camp in Beijing. Not only did I learn technical aspects through the lectures in the mornings, but I grew so much as an engineer and most importantly as a person. Learning about the culture, as well as the civil engineering side of things, was a skill that could only be acquired through a program like this. I learned to network with students worldwide and now have contacts in four different countries.”
This is just what the dean was hoping to hear.
“This is so thrilling to see the student’s enthusiasm for the summer program,” Maragakis said. “While some students may be reluctant to travel, once they do, the experience gives them a greater perspective. That’s important. It’s wonderful and affirming to see the program is so successful.”
In keeping with its strategic objective of offering a globally competitive engineering education, the College of Engineering has established exchange programs with universities in Asia and Europe, including Kookmin University in South Korea, Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences in Germany, Beijing Jiaotong University in China and the TECNUN School of Engineering at the University of Navarra in Spain.
Maragakis recently traveled on a trade mission to China and South Korea with Governor Brian Sandoval where he made many valuable contacts.
“I met with many people important to the mission of our college, our University and our state,” Maragakis said. “The trade mission helped us towards our global objectives by providing the opportunity to interact with major industries in China and Korea, present the many assets of the University of Nevada, Reno and establish collaborative educational agreements with many universities, which will provide unique opportunities to our students and faculty.”
He initiated discussions for the establishment of other collaborative efforts and is in negotiations with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Dankook University and Ewha Woman’s University in Korea.
“The doors we opened with the governor will help us far into the future,” Maragakis said.