US students come to China in exchange project

Updated: 2012-08-06 02:52

By Luo Wangshu (China Daily)

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Andrew Campbell, a graduate student from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in the United States, has come to the Chinese capital to investigate how a city benefits from providing a bicycle rental service to residents and visitors.

As one of 40 US graduate students in the 2012 Sino-US Young Professionals in Science and Engineering Exchange Program, Campbell will spend two months conducting his study at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

“Nowadays, people have multiple choices for transport, and China has a massive share of the world’s bike riders,” the 30-year-old said, adding that China provides a great data foundation for his study.

The exchange program, also known as the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes, is administered by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and the US National Science Foundation. It allows US graduate students in science and engineering to conduct research at Chinese universities over the summer.

It aims to improve academic and cultural exchange between young professionals from China and the US.

This year, the program has brought 40 US graduate students to China. Most of them will finish their research this month and return to the US, said Emily Ashworth, the director of the China Office of the US National Science Foundation.

The students work at universities across China, including in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

“Most of them majored in environmental and basic sciences, and have been carefully selected,” Ashworth said, estimating that of every four applications only one was selected.

“Each student is an ambassador to China,” she said, adding that the program will improve understanding between the two countries.

She also said the US government will invite 10 Chinese young professionals to Washington to conduct a 10-day academic exchange visit in October.

“We’ve already successfully hosted the program for eight years,” said Jin Xiaoming, director of the international cooperation department of the Ministry of Science and Technology, adding it is a wonderful program to encourage academic exchange.

“Young professionals come together, bringing the possibility for future cooperation,” Jin said.

As the main sponsor, Jin said the Ministry of Science and Technology has invested heavily in the program.

He said the program, in its current form, has favored US researchers coming to China to conduct research over several months, but he hopes in the future, more Chinese researchers will be able to travel to the US.

As it stands, many Chinese students benefit from the program by working with the visitors.

Zhao Shan, 22, Campbell’s temporary research assistant, a junior student at Tsinghua University, has learned many things from the experience.

“I asked him about the US academic and research environment, as well as the culture,” Zhao said, who plans to pursue his PhD study in the US.

On Friday, the 40 US graduates and 80 young professionals from China gathered in Beijing to attend the second China-US Young Scientist Forum.

They conducted talks on many topics, including climate change, water supplies and food safety issues.

Jin from the Ministry of Science and Technology said China and the US have a long history of cooperation in scientific research.

Robert Wang, deputy chief of the mission at the US embassy to China, spoke at the opening of the forum, saying the program goes beyond cooperation between young professionals and improves the relationship between China and the US.

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