Purdue's Daniels heads to China to enhance economic, educational partnerships

June 20, 2013  


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University President Mitch Daniels will travel to China June 22-27 to meet with existing and potential partners in economic and educational initiatives.

While serving as Indiana's governor, Daniels led trade missions to Asia each year of his administration, including multiple visits to China, and is looking forward to his return there as Purdue's leader.

"Purdue has longstanding and deep ties with China," Daniels said. "It's important to honor that history, and the best way to do that is by examining ways we can move forward with both longstanding and new partners to harness our combined strengths to build economic and educational opportunities."

One of the university's existing partners that Daniels will be meeting with is the Nanshan Group, China's second-largest aluminum company and a leader in textiles also known for its industries in energy, construction materials, tourism, education, real estate and commerce. The company built its Indiana plant while Daniels was governor.

In 2011 the company announced that its Shandong Nanshan Aluminum Co. was building and equipping a $100 million aluminum extrusion facility in Lafayette, which was the company's first U.S. manufacturing site. Later that year, the company announced it was giving $10 million to Purdue to support a variety of programming and activities through Purdue's Office of International Programs; research, training and consulting opportunities for faculty in the School of Materials Engineering and Krannert School of Management; and scholarships.

Daniels was invited by Nanshan's leadership to discuss several initiatives, particularly an aviation project. In May a Nanshan-led group established Qingdao Airlines for domestic air passenger and cargo transportation.

There is a two-person Purdue team currently working through a planning grant on curriculum development to launch the educational component of the company's new venture and evaluating other ways the university can work with the company as it enters the aviation industry. While in the initial concept phase, the company's long-term goal is to develop a program to train pilots and aviation management personnel.

Daniels said he and Nanshan leaders plan to sign a memorandum of understanding that will outline a plan for moving forward.

Company officials and Daniels also are slated to discuss plans for a training program to benefit Nanshan employees both in China and Lafayette. The program would be operated by the Krannert School's executive education area.

In addition to meetings with other companies and two alumni events, Daniels also will visit Tsinghua and Shanghai Jiaotong universities, two of Purdue's closest educational partners in China. He will meet with leaders from the universities to examine joint research projects and explore new opportunities.

There are several ongoing research project areas being jointly pursued by Purdue faculty members and their Chinese partners. Among those are sustainable energy, with chemical engineering faculty; structural biology and infectious diseases, with biological sciences faculty; and earthquake engineering, with civil engineering faculty. In July there are plans to add nanotechnology as an additional research area that would involve Purdue's Discovery Park.

"These partnerships allow us to bring some of the top researchers in their respective fields together to conduct research on topics of mutual interest," Daniels said. "The additional benefit is that such joint, multinational projects allow us to pursue larger research funding grants."

He said Tsinghua is Purdue's only university-wide strategic partner in the world, impacting almost every college on the Purdue campus. Tsinghua sends more of its students to Purdue to pursue doctoral degrees than to any other university, and, conversely, Purdue sends more of its students there for short-term study abroad opportunities than to any other location.

While on the Tsinghua and Shanghai Jiaotong campuses, Daniels will visit with Purdue students currently studying at both universities.

In his capacity as co-chair of the National Research Council's Committee on Human Spaceflight, Daniels also will be meeting with Yin Hejun of the Chinese Academy of Science. The committee has been interviewing leaders of human spaceflight programs in various nations.

"China currently has three astronauts in orbit aboard its space lab and is marking its fifth human mission in space," Daniels said. "The Chinese have become major players and have been actively growing their spaceflight program over the last several years. Given Purdue's ongoing contributions to spaceflight and my current role with the committee, this will be a unique opportunity to gain valuable insight into China's program and vision for space exploration."

Writer: Brian Zink, 765-494-2080, bzink@purdue.edu

Sources:  Mitch Daniels, president@purdue.edu

              Michael Brzezinski, dean of international programs, 765-496-6085, mbrzezinski@purdue.edu

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