Lunar New Year Report: Global influence continues to expand
Chris Edwards | 01/31/2020

In 2019, Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) continued to expand its existing international programs while developing new ones. The progress it has made in establishing an international education system that marries with other world-class universities has seen SUSTech recruit and retain outstanding talents from around the globe, develop high-quality educational programs for its students, and invest in a variety of collaborations with partner universities and institutions across the planet. These efforts have seen SUSTech’s university rankings improve, and our reputation increase.

International collaborative projects blossomed

In 2019, SUSTech made breakthroughs in the construction of top scientific research platforms. SUSTech has three research institutions led by the leaders of their fields: the Shenzhen Grubbs Research Institute (Nobel Laureate), the International Center for Mathematics (Fields Prize Winner), and the Sifakis Research Institute of Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (Turing Award Winner).

February 22nd saw the launch of the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) International Center for Mathematics. The Center was named after the Fields Medal Winner and the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Professor Efim Zelmanov. The Center is one of ten Nobel Laureate laboratories funded by the Shenzhen Municipal Government. It supports pure, applied, and computational mathematics across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area and in other parts of southern China, as well as encouraging interdisciplinary research and applications of mathematics in a variety of different fields. Their primary mission is to solve major scientific problems in an all-out effort to serve China’s strategic needs.

The Center will make first-class achievements in basic theoretical and applied development, resulting in positive contributions to fundamental science and technology in Shenzhen. The Center is the first research center led by a Fields Prize winner. Its establishment is critically vital for the development of mathematics in Shenzhen, China, and the world.

On November 1st, as part of Shenzhen Talent Day and SUSTech receiving its fourth consecutive “Outstanding Talent Scout Award,” Distinguished Professor Joseph Sifakis of Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) unveiled the Research Institute of Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (RITAS). Shenzhen Municipal Party Committee Secretary Wang Weizhong presented the plate to Professor Sifakis (Turing Award winner), in front of Shenzhen Mayor Chen Rugui, SUSTech President Chen Shiyi and other high-ranking officials from SUSTech and the Shenzhen government.

Professor Sifakis is a member of the French Academy of Sciences, the French National Academy of EngineeringAcademia Europea, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering (USA). He has long been engaged in a wide range of computer science fields such as rigorous system design, component-based construction, and model checking, in which he has made original and pioneering achievements. He won the Turing Award in 2007 for his contribution to the theory and application of model checking, the most widely used system verification technique today.

The Sifakis Research Institute of Trustworthy Autonomous Systems (RITAS) seeks to cover cutting-edge fields such as computational intelligence, trusted software, autonomous driving, smart cities, and intelligent healthcare. Embedded with the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE), it will develop a new generation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications while collaborating with the Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Computational Intelligence. The resultant research will ultimately contribute to the cultivation of high-end scientific and technological talent, Shenzhen’s technical improvement, and the dual development of Shenzhen and the Greater Bay Area.

In 2019, SUSTech continued to promote cooperation with world-class universities and steadily improved the level of international education. January 10th saw the opening ceremony for the joint workshop between SUSTech and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It was also the unveiling ceremony for the Centers for Mechanical Engineering Research and Education at MIT and SUSTech. In March, SUSTech signed three cooperation agreements with Monash University, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), and University of Queensland (UQ) to further deepen cooperation in personnel training and scientific research. On December 5, SUSTech and the University of Tokyo (UTokyo) jointly unveiled the SUSTech-UToyko Joint Research Center on Super Smart Cities (Research Center). As part of the unveiling, the Smart City Youth Scholars Forum also took place. SUSTech and HEC Paris signed agreements for the creation of dual-degree programs and entrepreneurial innovation training programs in June, along with a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH Zürich) for the construction of the Institute of Risk Analysis, Prediction, and Management (Institute). From November 20 to 23, SUSTech President Chen Shiyi led a delegation to Japan to meet with top universities to further expand cooperation agreements. The delegation visited the University of Tokyo, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Nagoya University, and Tohoku University

In 2019, SUSTech welcomed 105 international delegations and 441 visitors from overseas for in-depth exchanges. SUSTech signed thirty-six university-level agreements with 28 world-class universities.

International academic mobility sees more international students on campus

The Center for Language Education (CLE) has been at the forefront of SUSTech’s global outlook since its establishment. CLE currently offers mandatory and optional courses in English and Mandarin for domestic and international students, providing 237 classes to over four thousand undergraduate students every year. The increased academic mobility has seen CLE now provide French, German, Spanish, and Japanese courses on top of its wide range of English courses. These four languages are among the most studied in the world, and this was reflected in the enthusiastic response from students. Once registration opened, more than 650 applications were received, far exceeding the anticipated 25 students per class. With class capacity currently limited to around 20 per class, CLE will open more small classes in future semesters, to allow students to select an additional language of their choice.

2019 is the debut of international postgraduate students on campus. Six hundred fifty masters students and over 500 doctoral candidates opted for a fresh academic outlook, coming from over 150 world-class universities, including Tsinghua University, Peking University, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Columbia University in the City of New York (Columbia University) and Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine (Imperial College London).

More SUSTech students have traveled around the world and expanded their global outlook as part of their 2019 education. Six undergraduate students were selected by the SUSTech-MIT Centers for Mechanical Engineering Research and Education to participate in a one-semester exchange program at MIT in July, while four students returned to SUSTech from their exchange at MIT in June. SUSTech has formed cooperation agreements with more than 80 overseas cooperative universities. It has signed and entered into practical cooperation with 111 international projects and 74 student exchange projects. 

Over the summer vacation, more than 500 SUSTech students went to 65 institutions in 15 countries and regions. In 2019, the number of undergraduate students who participated in overseas study projects jumped significantly, representing an 88.5% increase in students participating in scientific research projects and a 138.5% increase in students partaking in semester study programs. SUSTech Global also sent 21 faculty members from 14 departments to 11 programs, while investing more than twenty million RMB in the international education of SUSTech, more than twice what was spent in 2018. 2019 also saw SUSTech Global work with MEE to join the Japan Science and Technology Agency’s program.

SUSTech’s approach to cultivating an international outlook in SUSTech students has seen the entire community become more active in the global academic stage.

The results of our global education vision are reflected in the directions taken by the Class of 2019. As of the end of June 2019, over 60% of the 800 new graduates from SUSTech have either been accepted into postgraduate studies or taken a full-time job. 152 of 465 graduates who have opted for further studies that are continuing in academic are heading directly into doctoral studies, with more than 100 graduates entering the top 50 universities in the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Some of the institutions SUSTech students are heading to include Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University (USA), University College London (UK), and the University of Toronto (Canada). As for the graduates entering the work force, they have been employed in a wide range of fields, like Tencent, Huawei, Baidu, BYD, and China Merchants Bank.

SUSTech students won awards in numerous competitions around the world. Undergraduate and postgraduate students brought home honors in the Chinese Mathematics Competition, the Mathematical Contest in Modeling and the Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (MCM/ICM Contests), the Asia Supercomputer Community Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC19), the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Software Testing, Verification and Validation (ICST 2019), the 2019 International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis (ISSTA 2019), the 2019 IEEE International Conference on Software Quality, Reliability, and Security (QRS 2019), the China Aeromodelling Design Challenge (CADC), the 2019 International Genetically Engineered Machine Competition (iGEM), and the 44th International Collegiate Program Contests.

The scientific rigor of our undergraduate students was also on display, with many publishing papers in high-impact journals. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) journal, IEEE Transactions on Communication, published the graduation project of two graduates. Class of 2018 graduates Bojie Lv and Lexiang Huang had their graduation project accepted as a paper in the journal. Class of 2020 student Hu Qikun has published 14 papers so far, with 9 of them as the first author and four selected as cover articles of SCI standard journals.

International talent development

SUSTech was honored with its fourth consecutive ”Outstanding Talent Scout Award” from the city of Shenzhen, at a glittering ceremony at the Wuzhou Guest House in downtown Shenzhen, as part of “Shenzhen Talent Day” on November 1. President Chen Shiyi received the award on behalf of SUSTech, along with a cheque for 2.8 million RMB, in recognition of its first place for talent introduction.

SUSTech’s faculty expanded to over 900, including three academicians, nine nationally appointed experts, one recipient of funding from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, and two Yangtze River Scholars. This expansion of the talent pipeline is supporting the rapid growth of SUSTech.

In 2019, faculty members at SUSTech had made significant breakthroughs in research, academic influence, and talent development. Distinguished Visiting Professor Joseph Sifakis of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at SUSTech was elected as a foreign academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Institute of Risk Analysis, Prediction, and Management (Risks-X) Visiting Chair Professor and Dean Didier Sornette was elected as a full member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences (Schweizerische Akademie der Technischen Wissenschaften, or SATW), in recognition of his “groundbreaking and globally recognized work on the characterization and prediction of rare extreme events and bubble formation in technology and society.” School of Environmental Science and Engineering (ESE) professors Zheng Chunmiao and Liu Junguo were elected to international bodies, along with the Department of Biology Professor Xiao Guozhi

Acting Vice President Zhao Yusheng was appointed to the board of directors for the American Society for Materials Research (MRS). Two faculty members won the inaugural “Xplorer Prize,” & CSE Chair Professor Hisao Ishibuchi won the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers – Computational Intelligence Society (IEEE CIS) Fuzzy Systems Pioneer Award. ESS Associate Professor Fang Xinding won the J. Clarence Karcher Award from the Society of Exploration of Geophysicists.  Chair Professor Liu Junguo from the School of Environmental Science and Engineering was selected as one of the recipients of the 15th Science and Technology Award for Chinese Youth. Humanities Center Lecturer Liu Yang received a Silver Medal for Best Novel and the Original Stone Award for his book, “The Orphans of Red Planet.

Professor Wang Haijiang from the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering (MEE) and Professor Liang Yongzhen from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) were both recognized as Global Highly Cited Researchers. Assistant Professor of Mathematics Li Qin and his collaborators won the Best Papers Award this year and received the award from outstanding mathematician Shing-Tung Yau at the second annual meeting of the International Consortium of Chinese Mathematicians (ICCM) at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan province, China.

Global presence and reputation increasing

SUSTech’s international influence continues to grow. On September 12, Times Higher Education (THE) released its THE World University Rankings 2020, with SUSTech remaining in the top ten in mainland Chinaranking equal ninth in mainland China and between 301st and 350th in the world. On 27th July, Times Higher Education (THE) released the Young University Rankings, in which SUSTech debuted as the highest-ranked mainland Chinese university. With a rank of 55th in the world, this is the first time a mainland Chinese university has entered the top 100 of this ranking and is the best position achieved by a mainland Chinese university.

SUSTech President Chen Shiyi and other leaders have attended international forums to contribute to global higher education. President Chen Shiyi spoke at the 12th Glion Colloqium in Switzerland in June, at the Sino-Russian University President’s Forum in St Petersburg in September and the 2nd Sino-German Sci-Tech Forum in November. 

SUSTech actively participated in many THE summits, including the Teaching Excellence, Asia Universities, Young Universities, Leadership and Management, and World University Summits. SUSTech also attended the ARWU 8th International Conference on World-Class Universities and the 2019 QS Reimagine Education Conference. Attendance at these summits saw SUSTech’s global influence strengthen throughout 2019.

SUSTech was the host for a variety of international forums to investigate new chapters in pedagogy and research. Global experts came to SUSTech, focusing on cutting-edge topics of international science and engineering while discussing new ideas with faculty members and students. SUSTech has held several international forums, including the 8th Grubbs Symposium in March, the International Conference for Media in Education in July, and the International Symposium on “Innovation and Collaboration: The Future of Research Universities in a New Global Era” in November. 

As SUSTech has developed rapidly in its short history, it has garnered more attention from media outlets both at home and abroad. SUSTech welcomed media delegations from Chongqing, Guangdong, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and Zhuhai Media Group. Media outlets wrote flattering and well-thought-out pieces on a wide range of issues. Fifty-seven internationally renowned media reports focused on the development of SUSTech, including Japan’s Toyo Economics News Agency, who specially came to SUSTech ahead of a special release in June.

SUSTech also released its first English promotional video, “Be A SUSTecher,” which sought to promote life on campus to millions of people through bilingual social media channels and China Daily. Our WeChat platforms published more than an article a day, being read more than 2.2 million times by more than 1.2 million people. The follower count through these channels passed seventy-two thousand, an increase of 44% on last year.

In summary, 2019 has seen SUSTech’s global standing increase rapidly, and 2020 will be another positive year in the right direction as it works towards becoming an international high-level research university.

2020, 01-31
By Chris Edwards

From the Series

Chinese New Year Special Report

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Translated and Adapted By SUSTech Newshub

Proofread ByXia Yingying

Photo BySUSTech Global


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