Asia Trip Extends Global Reach
This spring I had the extraordinary experience of leading a delegation of Rensselaer faculty and administrators on a trip to Asia. In China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, we met with leaders in industry, science, government, and education, interactions that are leading to several collaborations of value that will further our mission to become a truly world-class university with global reach and global impact. Indeed, our work at Rensselaer contributes in an important way to global innovation, to security, and to economic growth. After all, it has been our heritage to educate the innovators who changed the world for more than 180 years.
On this trip we also celebrated the establishment of the first China chapter of the Rensselaer Alumni Association. That fact alone is significant, because it means that Rensselaer alumni are making their impact in a part of the world that we know is a powerful and ever-growing force in the global economy. In fact, as we met with alumni in all the cities we visited, I came away from this trip with the strong impression that Rensselaer is arriving on this world stage.
There were many highlights of this trip. It began in China, which has the fastest-growing economy in the world and is the center of the overall economic emergence of Asia. In Beijing we met with officials in the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Education, and other government and university officials. I was honored to give a speech titled “Energy and China’s Future: A Perspective” to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as well as to the American Chamber of Commerce. The delegation also toured the Tianjin Economic Development Area (TEDA) in Tianjin, Beijing’s port, where we met with local officials. Several Rensselaer alumni are prominent players in making TEDA a leading site for science and technology.
More meetings with business and university officials were held in Hong Kong, where we also introduced Renaissance at Rensselaer: The Campaign for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to a gathering of alumni. We made similar campaign presentations in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur.
In Singapore, we met with the leadership of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) to discuss education challenges and possible collaborations. A*STAR offers international scholarships and fellowships in science and technology for students ranging from undergraduates to post-doctoral fellows.
In Malaysia, I met with Dato’ Dr. Jamaludin Dato’ Mohammad Jarjis, the country’s Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, who spoke of plans to grow the education and research base of Malaysian universities and the need to develop opportunities for Malaysian students to study abroad so that they may return to their home country fully prepared for careers in science and technology. The minister also spoke at the alumni reception in Kuala Lumpur, along with Christian LaFleur, the U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia.
This was a memorable trip from the standpoint of forging important and potentially beneficial connections for Rensselaer and for reconnecting with alumni who are leading the economic, scientific, and technological development in Asia. Indeed, a great university builds relationships and alliances all over the world, and fosters global innovation. The trip was an important step toward reaching those goals for Rensselaer. I look forward to extending and expanding our connections all over the world, and to reporting on the success of these ventures.
Joining President Jackson as members of the Rensselaer delegation to Asia were: Prabhat Hajela, Ph.D., vice provost and dean of undergraduate education; Omkaram Nalamasu, Ph.D., vice president for research and director of the Center for Integrated Electronics; David Haviland ’64, vice president for institute advancement; Iftekhar Hasan, Ph.D., acting dean of the Lally School of Management and Technology; Robert Palazzo, Ph.D., professor and chairman of biology and director of the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies; Lester Gerhardt, Ph.D., associate dean of engineering; Dawn (Xia) Chen, director of international advancement; and Tom Apple, Ph.D., former vice provost and dean of graduate education.
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