Grand Challenges Scholars Program Launched at Peking University, China

October 29, 2017

Official Link (Chinese)

On October 17, 2017, the Launch Ceremony of the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) was held at the Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center of Peking University (PKU). PKU becomes the first university from mainland China joining in the GCSP network. Professor B.L. Ramakrishna, Director of the GCSP network at NAE, Professor Song GAO, PKU Vice President and Provost, Mr. Jincheng KANG, the former Director-General for International Cooperation, Chinese Academy of Engineering, Professor Suiyan FU, Director of the PKU Office of Educational Administration , Professor Dongxiao ZHANG , NAE member and Dean of PKU College of Engineering (COE), Professor Jianxiang WANG, Associate Dean of COE, Dr. Jie LIU, Director of GCSP of PKU, and more than 120 freshmen from COE joined in the Ceremony with Ms. Yongmei Li, Assistant Dean of COE hosted the event.

Motivated by the NAE’s 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering and increasing calls for a new engineering education paradigm, the Grand Challenges Scholars Program was initiated as a new education model to prepare engineers to be world changers. The GCSP has now been implemented at more than 50 engineering schools around the world. Before the Launch Ceremony, Yongmei Li and Jie Liu jointly introduced the GCSP to the students, and introduced PKU’s vast resources in research and extensive studies and activities for implementing GCSP.

At the Launch Ceremony, Vice President and Provost Song Gao opened the proceedings by warmly welcoming the guests and participants, and mentioned that building a leading engineering program is one of the crucial strategies of PKU’s route in becoming an internationally renowned university. Peking University attaches great importance to the development of engineering disciplines to adapt to the national demand and to help PKU’s basic disciplines research results for industrial transformation. Joining in the GCSP network to address the grand challenges facing society will be an important step for PKU’s engineering discipline development. China is experiencing fast economic development with increasing population, which brings unprecedented challenges as well as opportunities. To address the Grand Challenges in China will provide valuable experiences for other countries, and the implementation of GCSP at PKU will provide a leading example and valuable experiences for expanding it to more universities in China and in Asia and the Pacific region.

Professor B.L. Ramakrishna congratulated the senior PKU administrators for being the first in China to launch GCSP and thanked them for taking on the mantle of leadership not only in China, but around the region and the world. Prof. Ramakrishna spoke highly of PKU’s rich tradition of a truly broad based education for its students and its endeavor in building up world class facilities for engineering research, education, and innovation. He recognized the leadership of Dean Dongxiao ZHANG in making this day of launching GCSP in China a reality! Finally he addressed the students directly and inspired them to be engineering leaders and challenged them address the needs of the people around the planet.

Jincheng Kang also gave remarks and recalled his studying experiences and encouraged the students to actively participate in innovative activities and explore the new world without fear of failure. On behalf of the Office of Education Administration, Suiyan Fu congratulated the Launch of GCSP at PKU. She said that the education vision of PKU is to cultivate high-quality talent with high degree of social responsibility, innovation, practical ability and international vision in every professional field, which coincides with the concept of developing GCSP. Fu highly praised Globex program, the Global Innovation Master Class and I-Podium Education Cooperation Program offered by COE, and expected the GCSP will become not only another outstanding program but also a mainstream educational paradigm for all engineering students.

Dongxiao Zhang, the Dean of COE, expressed gratitude to the support from PKU in his speech. He pointed out that GCSP is a program for students, and the College of Engineering will be committed to better integration of existing resources to enable students to participate in all aspects of the program; future program development will also depend on the needs of students. Engineering is most closely linked to social and human development, and Zhang encouraged and welcomed the enthusiastic and well-prepared students to participate in the GCSP to tackle the grand challenges.

On behalf of the student innovation and entrepreneurship team from College of Engineering, Shaoxin Wang shared his team’s business process of "enjoying science and technology". He said that innovation and entrepreneurship is never easy and that persistent spirit, mentorship and team support are essential for being a successful engineer who wants to make a positive impact on the world.

In the end, B.L. Ramakrishna, Song Gao, Jincheng Kang, Suiyan Fu, Dongxiao Zhang, Jianxiang Wang, Yongmei Li, and Jie Liu jointly launched the "Peking University Grand Challenges Scholars Program". After the Launch Ceremony B.L. Ramakrishna and other guests and students visited the PKU Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center, and observed several outstanding projects developed by students from the COE, such as “Quality Technology-Intelligent air cleaner”, “Di Da musical blocks”, “Interdisciplinary applications of flexible solar energy”, and “Robosea underwater robot fish”. Prof. Rama watched the practical demonstration and communicated with the team members, providing his suggestions and calling for more applications of technological innovation through GCSP.