Seeking a presence in China

Jun 27, 2008

A recent trip to China by a small Kettering delegation is proof that the Kettering/GMI "name brand" is strong internationally.

What’s in a name? When the name is Kettering/GMI – a lot!

A recent trip to China by a small Kettering delegation is proof that the Kettering/GMI "name brand" is strong internationally. President Stan Liberty, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Harris and Director of the International Office Luchen Li traveled to China in late March and early April and brought back some very reinforcing news – that the quality of a Kettering/GMI education is world renown. 

"Kettering University has good name recognition in China, especially in the automotive field," said President Liberty. "We went to Chinaf eeling that Kettering was way behind in its international development plans, but what we found there was very impressive.  There are economically strong and culturally vibrant cities and universities in China that are highly interested in having a relationship with Kettering.  Once again, our fundamental commitment to work-integrated learning using the co-op model holds the key for our future success."

That’s good news because the Chinese economy is predicted to pass the U.S. economy in less than 20 years.  Even sooner than that, World Bank is predicting China will cast a financial shadow over the United States with economic growth rates of 3 percent (U.S.) vs. 10 percent (China).

Kettering’s delegation, which received a warm welcome during the visit, focused on enhancing international activity through recruiting students, study abroad opportunities, faculty exchange and joint research projects.  Events began when an old friend helped host an alumni reception in Shanghai. Dr. James Koerschen, formerly of Kettering’s Enrollment Management division and now head of Concordia’sInternational School in Shanghai, coordinated an alumni reunion with the assistance of Juliann Leonard, Michael Richardson, Suzanne Brandt and Kettering’s International Office. President Liberty updated alumni from GM, Johnson Controls, Ford, Chrysler and Delphi.

The next day it was on to the Dalian University of Technology (DUT), which was founded as a school of Engineering half a century ago and is renown for its academic style of: "Be Diligent, Rigorous, Practical-Minded and Creative." Today, the school has broadened into a university of Science and Technology with 17,000 undergraduates, 6,000 graduate students and agreements with 110 colleges and universities around the world. Science and Engineering remain its major fields of devotion. The city of Dalian is the sixth largest port in China and is located across the Bohai Gulf from Beijing.

President Liberty and DUT President Jinping Ou signed a "Memorandum of Understanding on International Exchange" to promote mutual interests in education, research and professional training. DUT anticipates sending its first four students to Kettering for two terms of study, beginning in October 2008. In Summer 2009, it is anticipated that Kettering’s first faculty-led class (15-20 students) will travel to DUT for up to one month. DUT will send two faculty members to Kettering for up to three years to team-teach and conduct collaborative research. In the meantime, DUT will help recruit both undergraduate and graduate students. The day’s events included a meeting with professors from DUT’s School of Automotive Engineering.

"This entire trip was designed to explore the potential of collaborations in China," explained Provost Harris. "Kettering is serious about its commitment to President Liberty’s Mission and Vision in preparing leaders for a global society," he added.

The trip included two other signing ceremonies: one at Tongji University and one at Xi’an Polytechnic University in Xi’an, plus a new professional connection with Tsinghua University in Beijing. Harris said all the agreements will actively pursue exchange and research collaborations for graduate dual-degree and undergraduate exchange programs and have a new focus on faculty-led study abroad sites.

Harris said Tongji was formerly Tongji German Medical School (founded 1907) and is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning in China.  Engineering was added to the curriculum in 1912.  It is one of the country’s leading universities under the State Ministry of Education in China, with more than 50,000 students. Tongji translates to "cooperating by riding the same boat," Harris explained.

Tsinghua University, located in the northwestern suburbs of Beijing, is a polytechnic university focused on Engineering that is developing at a "breathtaking pace" into a comprehensive research university. It has more about 26,000 students and is known for fostering talent and scientific research.

"At Xi’an, there is a high interest in Kettering’s Master of Science in Engineering Management degree. Xi’anhas been graduating engineers since 1912 and is considered a comprehensive Engineering university of strong reputation. We are the closest to having students go to Xi’an in an exchange program that is very similar to the German exchange program,” Harris said.  “Kettering’s reputation for preparing executives in the automotive industry is very strong there.”

The highlight of the trip, however, came with the name recognition and international respect expressed during the visit to the China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC).  CATARC provides technical administration for the auto industry in China and is the country’s technical support organization for auto standards, technical regulations, product certification testing, quality systems, planning and policy research and information services. “They are interested in engaging us in their efforts for standardizing the automotive industry.  They are not working with any other American university as of yet.  This was the real prize that we found in China.”

“There is no doubt China represents a huge opportunity for Kettering,” Harris added, noting that the number of people visiting Kettering’s website from China increased from 150 a month in 2007 to 5,500 a month in 2008.  “We just need to go and take it.”

Written by Pat Mroczek