ECE set to expand collaborations with Jilin University

Posted on June 21, 2016

FEAS delegation completes teaching mission to China's largest university

Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) acting head professor Shahram Yousefi is among a group of professors from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science (FEAS) that spent part of the spring teaching at Jilin University (JLU) in China. The trip was a chance for Queen’s engineering faculty members to further cement relations with academic partners in China and to lay the groundwork for new research and student mobility programs.

“It was an eye-opening experience that exposed us to China and Jilin University both academically and culturally,” says Yousefi. “We now have a much better understanding of what the students in China are like and what interests them. We also built upon our relationship with our faculty partners at JLU.”

 Jilin students

BUILDING BRIDGES: Queen’s engineering professor Shahram Yousefi (centre left) instructed a class of undergraduate students at Jilin University on entrepreneurialism.

Yousefi was accompanied on the delegation by Queen’s engineering professors Christopher Pickles, Scott Yam, and Bruce Anderson as well as Queen’s political science professor David Haglund and Director of Queen's China Liaison Office, Zhiyao Zhang. Over the two-week period, each Queen's professor delivered six lectures to undergraduate students at JLU on individual subjects and connected with various research counterparts on potential opportunities. The delegation was also invited to various seminars and cultural events to promote dialogue and understanding with local students and faculty members.

Yousefi led 15 students through an introductory course called "Successful Entre(Intra)preneurship." It began with an introduction to innovation and entrepreneurship followed by venture team and organization issues. Other topics covered were the business model canvas, traction and marketing, upstart funding and leadership strategies.

"I adopted team-based learning and flipped classroom to deliver the course," says Yousefi. "Students formed teams in the first lecture and performed a number of in-class activities. The out-of-class assignments included the development of the business model canvas. We explored ways to take their ideas to the Chinese market and then going global." 

The feedback from students was excellent, says Yousefi.

“The comments from students were that the Canadian way of teaching is very good, very different, fun and engaging,” he says. “It’s because we have the resources and focus to teach students, based on the latest findings in engineering education, a bit differently.”

Jilin panel

INTERNATIONALIZATION: Queen’s political science professor David Haglund, engineering professor Shahram Yousefi and China relations officer Zhiyao Zhang at the welcome ceremony at Jilin University.

Yousefi visited a number of schools and faculties during the trip, including the School of International and Public Affairs, School of Management, College of Electronic Science and Engineering, College of Earth Sciences, School of Physics, School of Communications Engineering, School of Computer Science, School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and School of Economics. He was also appointed Adjunct Professor, Research, China-Israel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, in the Economics School at JLU.

"I have started discussions with three professors at JLU for research collaboration in the areas of communications, algorithms, and entrepreneurship," says Yousefi. “We're planning for joint grant applications, co-supervision of graduate students, and cross teaching at the two institutions.”

All this dovetails nicely with one of the central tenets of Queen’s strategic plan. Internationalization is a stated aim to further raise the university’s international profile by, among other things, increasing research collaboration and engaging international undergraduate students. To that end, Yousefi and the rest of the ECE department are in the planning stages for new research and student mobility programs.

“Our time at Jilin went really well,” says Yousefi. “Our hosts know us personally. They know we’re serious about building on this partnership and I suspect this is going to lead to more student mobility and research collaboration."