Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University’s XJTLU-JITRI Academy of Industrial Technology celebrated its first anniversary on 9 April. XJTLU and Jiangsu Industrial Technology Research Institute (JITRI) jointly established the Academy.
Professor Fei Ma, Executive Dean of the Academy and XJTLU’s Associate Vice President for Research and Impact, says the Academy has achieved goals in combining postgraduate education, enterprise requirements,technological innovation, and economic development.
“We put students at the forefront of industry to learn from it and get results for their masters or doctoral research projects,” Professor Ma says.
Professor Fei Ma
Wei Dai, one of the first graduates of the Academy, had received job offers from multiple enterprisesbefore starting her masters programme. Dai rejected the offers because of her strong interest in academic research. After two semesters studying in another XJTLU programme, she joined the Academy when it opened to start her masters project.
For her project on robots used in disinfection, she engaged in research at the Jiangsu Institute of Intelligent Manufacturing.
“Conducting research in a research institute exposes you to the market demands and provides you withaccess to cutting-edge technologies. After months of intensive learning, I feel I've made considerable progress,” Dai says.
In the research institute, Dai's office was next to the laboratory for intelligent robots. Her mornings were spent using XJTLU Library’s rich online resources to study literature about basic theories. Afternoons found her learning-by-doing in the laboratory, immersed in working with circuit boards, parts, and robots.
Dai's mentors – XJTLU mentor, Dr Limin Yu, and her industry mentor, Dr Yu Lu, director of product R&D at the institute – guided her in her daily research. She met with her mentors every two weeks to report on her progress and hear their suggestions. Mentors help students break a research project into smaller tasks to be completed at each stage.
Other Academy mentors say the combination of an academic mentor and industry mentor benefits students.
Dr Min Chen, Associate Dean Research and Graduate Studies at XJTLU's School of Advanced Technology and one of the first mentors to sign up for the XJTLU-JITRI joint program, says:
“Industry mentors have technical experience, knowledge of the industry, and sensitivity to the direction of cutting-edge domestic technologies’ development. Mentors in schools have experience conducting international scientific research. Students can combine the strong points of both types of mentorship to great effect.
Dr Chen, who has conducted research interdisciplinary talent training at Chinese, German, and British universities, continues: “While industry mentors focus on solving technical problems for students, XJTLU mentors support students in learning about theories and research methods. We encourage students to combine theory with industrial needs, which helps them obtain high-quality, applicable, and transferable knowledge."
Dr Chen also feels that the Academy has provided a strong and sustainable research platform for academics at XJTLU.
“The XJTLU-JITRI Academy has successfully integrated industrial needs with education and researchand given educators access to practical projects. This is an in-depth cooperation between the school, enterprises, and research institutes.”
Professor Ka Lok Man of XJTLU's School of Advanced Technology, who has rich experience both in academia and global industry, points to advantages to students upon their graduation.
“Our students are closely connected to industry, which will give them a competitive edge in the job market in China and around the world,” says Professor Man, who has been mentor since the joint supervisor programme was launched.
Professor Ka Lok Man
Academy graduate Dai is an example of what postgraduate students can achieve at the Academy. This June, she will start her doctoral research at Jiangsu In-depth Perception Technology Research Institute.
“In my masters degree project, the robot relies on radar and binocular cameras to perceive its surrounding environment. During the next few years, I will continue to explore the fusion of radar and vision. The technology underpinning the project will be closely related to the vision of smart cities and autonomous driving,” she says.
By Luyun Shi and Yuxiao Zhang
Translated by Xueqi Wang
Edited by Tamara Kaup
Photos by XJTLU-JITRI Academy of Industrial Technology