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Gaining Perspective: Students from QiMing College, Wuhan China, Join Operation Catapult
|Floor: Li Jianqiang (Harry);
Front left to right: Li Shuo (Sure), Song Yang (Micheal),
Li Lihang (Calm); Back left to right: Cheng
Xinyu (Albert), Zhong Guohui (Jerry),
Feng Haotian (Tian)
"Most of the time Chinese students don't know what career to
choose; they don't know what major to choose," said Chinese college
student Li Jianqiang, called "Harry" by his American
He and his student project team from China's QiMing College of
HUST (Huazhong University of Science and Technology) came to
Rose-Hulman to observe the interaction of professors and students
during the summer program for high school students, Operation
Catapult. The QiMing students will then take the principles of the
Catapult program back to their University in China.
|Li Jianqiang speaks about higher education in
In August, Dr. Patricia Brackin, professor of mechanical
engineering, Michael Robinson, associate professor of civil and
environmental engineering, and Jianjian Song, associate professor
of electrical engineering will travel back to China with the
visiting students to help them set up a program similar to
For Song, it is a trip back to his alma mater, where he received
a B.S. in radio engineering in 1982. Having been the original
liason between the two schools, Song will be assisting the team to
run the inaugural 10-day summer camp.
"The theme of the camp is Teaming and Creativity in
Engineering," Song reported.
According to Li, feeder programs like Catapult, designed to
offer high school students insights or guidance towards a career
field, are a rarity. It's a concept they'd like to import to
"We can set up kind of activities like Operation Catapult in our
University to attract more students to come here; to help them know
what they're interested in and what career they're interested in,"
Li and his teammates also admire the system in which students
can design their own experiments or pursue their own theories.
"I experience a lot based on American students," said Song Yang,
the member of the QiMing team known as Michael. "They have a free
imagination and ideas."
The Chinese visitors said that while Chinese higher education is
strong on imparting information, it's a relative newcomer to
imparting the ideals of innovation.
"In our country, more of the exercises may be about knowledge,
but in America it is more about the practice or the project," said
Cheng Xinyu, (English name, Albert).
|Li Shuo talks about the
uniqueness of Catapult
QiMing College is in the fore of Chinese colleges dedicated to
innovation, and its student teams have taken many awards. As a
result, the school is extremely competitive, admitting only the
very top students from across the nation of well over a
"QiMing College is a platform to compete, do projects and
innovate," said team member Li Lihang, AKA Calm.
Director of Rose-Hulman's Operation Catapult, Brackin said
visiting Rose-Hulman is an experience that is unique for the
Chinese students as well as the American students involved in
"My main hope for doing this is that we all see that working
together with multiple perspectives we get a better perspective,"
she said. "I hope we all take away that we have something to offer
and we can help each other."
Brackin said she is looking forward to mixing the hands-on
environment of Rose-Hulman with China's emphasis on theory.
"Theory without practice doesn't work, but practice without
theory is very inefficient," she said. "Putting them together, you
see the strengths of both and you see why you need both."
The trip also represents a monumental amount of planning. In
Wuhan City, where QiMing college is located, availability of many
technical materials is limited to the wholesale market. You can't
just run out to an automotive parts store, Brackin said.
As Catapult continues, the Chinese students mingle with the
visiting high school students, Rose-Hulman students and professors,
not only observing the progress of the projects but also
participating in the work and assisting in problem solving. This is
especially true for the technical equipment.
"We can show them how the stuff works, from our experience," said
To Brackin, just having different cultures working together on
campus makes it more exciting. It also means a lot for
"That there are people who are willing to spend the amount of
money that they spent just to come see what we do is a really big
honor," she said.
For more about QiMing College of HUST, visit their website.