When it’s time to look for employment, Li Xiao, a MSc Multimedia Telecommunications student at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU), expects he will have an advantage.

He began his study this semester at the XJTLU-JITRI Academy of Industrial Technology and will conduct research for his joint masters research project next year.

“The experience of doing an industrial project at the Academy will give me a competitive edge in the job market,” he said. Xiao attended the Academy’s 2021 Joint Master Research Project Information Session.

XJTLU has initiated 63 joint PhD and 61 masters projects in collaboration with Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research Institute (JITRI) and other leading industrial partners. At the Academy’s first exchange session held recently with industrial and academic supervisors, students asked questions of deans, supervisors and current students.

Q1: What are the distinctive advantages of the Academy’s talent development model?

Professor Fei Ma, Associate Vice President at XJTLU and Executive Dean of the Academy:

“The Academy integrates XJTLU’s educational experience with JITRI’s rich resources. All the masters and PhD programmes are demand-oriented, which sets the Academy apart. The Academy decides whether to start a programme based on the institute’s and our industrial partners’ requests.”

Wei Zhou, Operations Dean at the Academy and Head of the XJTLU Graduate School:

“As an academic unit under XJTLU, the Academy leverages the strengths of both XJLTU and JITRI to create in-depth integration among industry, education and research. The Academy uses a cross-disciplinary approach to cultivate innovative, application-oriented, and adaptable talent who can lead the development of modern industries. Furthermore, the Academy will create a value- and innovation-oriented ecosystem involving industry, education and research.”

Q2: What’s special about XJTLU-JITRI Academy’s joint projects?

Dr Wei Zhuang, Industry Dean at the Academy and Deputy Director of JITRI’s Domestic Cooperation Department of Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research:

“Enterprise requests alone may not immediately be suitable as research project topics. To solve this problem, we ask our institute experts to first put such requests in a scientific context, and then train the students in research projects. As a result, both parties are satisfied: the companies’ requests are met and students can publish quality theses based on the projects.”

Yi Zhou, PhD student at the Academy with nearly a year of experience in a research project at JITRI’s Institute of Deep Perception Technology:

“Projects at the Academy are reality-based and problem-oriented. We focus on the fundamentals. We also do theoretical research, but the purpose is never just to write a paper or to yield research outcomes. We use algorithms to solve real-life problems and to improve products. We tackle industrial problems in an academic manner.”

Q3: What can the students gain from doing projects in the institutes?

Professor Qing Wang, Industrial Supervisor at the Academy and Head of the JITRI’s Institute of Future Urban Application Technology:

“XJTLU students are active and enthusiastic. They often share their ideas with me, which are always positive. Most of them study computing and AI, and they are outstanding. But what do they lack? They lack the ability to connect their knowledge with the products to be developed and the market demand. After a year or more of practical research, they will be ready to apply the knowledge and skills that they have learned.”

Dr Xiaohua Fan, Industrial Supervisor at the Academy and Head of JITRI’s Institute of Intelligent Integrated Circuit Design Technology:

“Institutes are somewhere between universities and enterprises. We develop students not only through research projects but also industrial projects. Enabling students to work with researchers and experts on projects enhances students’ knowledge.

Q4: What students are suitable for the XJTLU-JITRI joint masters programmes?

Professor Fei Ma, Associate Vice President at XJTLU and Executive Dean of the Academy:

“The programmes are suitable for those willing to participate in the development of industry and greatly interested in solving real-life challenges. Additionally, students who are communicative, practical and take initiative are also good fits. These are qualities of the international talents the University wants to develop.”

Dr Xiaohua Fan, Industrial Supervisor at the Academy and Head of JITRI’s Institute of Intelligent Integrated Circuit Design Technology:

“We have 20-30 graduate students at our institute who come from universities and institutions including the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou University, and Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. We would like to recruit XJTLU students who are committed to the Chinese chip (semiconductor) industry and related research who have basic knowledge in electronic circuit and communications. We value self-motivation and analytical and problem-solving abilities.”

Q5: What is it like to do scientific research at a research institute?

Wei Dai, graduate student at the Academy with nearly six months of experience working on a research project at JITRI’s Intelligent Manufacturing Technology Institute:

“My understanding of market demand has greatly increased. For example, because of the pandemic, robots and intelligent devices for the prevention and control of Covid-19 were developed. This is an example of how industry meets market demand. Such lessons are not taught in the classroom. Both my academic supervisor at XJTLU and my industrial supervisor offered great suggestions that helped me navigate my research project: a remote management system for sanitising robots.”

By Luyun Shi, Liu He and Xinzhu Cao
Edited by Tamara Kaup

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