University of Pittsburgh
July 22, 2014

Groundbreaking Held for Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute

PITTSBURGH—OfficialsAt the groundbreaking ceremony from left are Shijing Yan, vice president of international affairs at Sichuan University; Guangxian Li, executive vice president at Sichuan University; Patricia E. Beeson, provost and senior vice chancellor at Pitt; Heping Xie, president of Sichuan University; Lawrence Feick, director of Pitt's University Center for International Studies; Gregory Marcus, former consular chief at the U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu; Gerald D. Holder, the U.S. Steel Dean of Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering; and Minking Chyu, the Leighton and Mary Orr Chair Professor in Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering. from the University of Pittsburgh and Sichuan University in China participated in a groundbreaking ceremony on July 2 at the Sichuan University campus in Chengdu to launch construction of a 100,000-square-foot building that will house the Sichuan University-Pittsburgh Institute, a joint engineering institute to educate undergraduate students and foster collaborative research. 

The partnership between Pitt and Sichuan University was established in 2013. Pitt is one of only five U.S. universities to have entered into a large-scale partnership agreement with a Chinese university; the others are Carnegie Mellon University, Duke University, New York University, and the University of Michigan. Sichuan University is the premier university in western China, located in Chengdu within the Sichuan Province, and it is consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in China. 

With emphases on advanced sustainable manufacturing and educational innovation, the institute will initially offer three undergraduate degree programs: industrial engineering, mechanical engineering, and materials science and engineering. Students in the institute will be recruited from the United States, China, and possibly other countries, with the first class in fall 2015 expected to comprise 100 students. Enrollment is projected to grow to a final total of 1,600.

Students will spend the first two years of the program immersed in the Pitt curriculum in China with the option of transferring to the Pittsburgh campus during their third year in the program. Students who transfer to Pitt directly after their sophomore year will earn a bachelor’s degree from both Sichuan University and Pitt, and all students will receive an institute certificate upon completion of their studies. Qualified students will also be able to continue their graduate studies at Pitt.

Faculty from around the world will be recruited to teach at the institute. All faculty members will undergo rigorous training to ensure that they will provide appropriate course content in an active learning format. Pitt faculty interested in a semester or yearlong sabbatical to teach in the institute will be considered. All Pitt-curriculum-based courses will be taught in the English language. Sichuan University will cover not only the institute’s operating costs but also faculty start-up funds.

About the Swanson School of Engineering
The University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering is one of the oldest engineering programs in the United States. The Swanson School has excelled in basic and applied research during the past decade and is at the forefront of 21st-century technology, including energy systems, sustainability, bioengineering, microsystems and nanosystems, computational modeling, and advanced materials development. Approximately 120 faculty members serve more than 3,200 undergraduate and graduate students in six departments, including bioengineering, chemical and petroleum engineering, civil and environmental engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, and mechanical engineering and materials science. In 2011, the Swanson School was the top-ranked U.S. school in the percentage of doctoral degrees awarded to women in engineering, according to a ranking based on 2010-11 data from the American Society for Engineering Education.

About Sichuan University
Sichuan University is one of the oldest national universities in China and is ranked No. 8 among Chinese universities in Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Academic Ranking of World Universities. It is a research university with a wide range of disciplines covering 11 categories: agriculture, economy, education, engineering, history, law, liberal arts, management, medicine, philosophy, and science. There are more than 40,000 undergraduate students, 20,000 master’s degree and PhD candidates, and 1,000 foreign students and students from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Sichuan University has established contacts and cooperative relationships with more than 150 renowned colleges and universities as well as research institutes from 42 countries and regions.

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