By Sam Phillips
Several Youngstown State University administration and faculty members are taking a two-week trip to China on Oct. 20 in an attempt to build partnerships and recruit international students.
Provost Martin Abraham, Ann Gardner, assistant director of the Center for International Studies and Programs, Mike Crist, interim dean of the College of Creative Arts and Communication, Patrick Bateman, director of the MBA program, and Hazel Marie, chair of the department of mechanical and industrial engineering, will be making the trip. Qi Jiang, a professor in the department of sociology, anthropology and gerontology, will be meeting them there and serving as an interpreter.
Abraham said the primary objective of the trip is to create friends in China.
“We’re hoping it will lead to a greater number of international students coming to Youngstown State,” he said. “Not only do we want to bring more students to YSU, we also want to create opportunities for our YSU students to study abroad. The benefits you get from traveling to another country are tremendous.”
Gardner was responsible for planning and coordinating the trip. She said recruiting students from other countries will diversify the campus and create global awareness.
“We have very few Chinese students, and this is unusual. We think it’s time to invite more Chinese students to YSU,” Gardner said. “You want to have a global approach, and you don’t want to create a monoculture where all of your international students are from one country because it’s just not a good practice. We want a diversified campus.”
The group will be traveling to Beijing, Chengdu, Wuhan and Nanjing. They will depart the country from Shanghai. They have scheduled visits at universities including the China University of Petroleum, the Chengdu Technological Institute and the Chinese University of Communications, where they will hold recruitment fairs and give presentations.
Gardner said they already have relationships with some of the universities because of professors at YSU like Ou Hu, an economics professor. He traveled home to Chengdu during his summer break and met with officials at Chengdu Technological Institute. After exchanging some letters and emails, he was invited to send his co-workers to the school.
Abraham said a big objective for this trip will be signing an articulation agreement in Beijing, allowing Chinese students to start studying in China and finish studying in the U.S.
“We intend to do it correctly, and we are committed to doing it well,” Abraham said. “And so we will be meeting with the other universities we have been visiting with and in those cases we are signing a memorandum of understanding that indicates that we wish to continue to work with them and build those relationships and build successful partnerships.”
He said it’s about establishing trust and getting to know people.
“If you’ve ever experienced Chinese culture, it’s really about who you know,” Abraham said. “How much value people can provide for you depends on how well they can connect you with other people. It is very important to let the Chinese counterparts know that we are serious about this.”
Gardner said YSU is appealing to international students because of its mechanical and industrial engineering programs. About 22 percent of international students major in engineering.
“We have amazing equipment over here. We have six out of the seven technologies available for 3D printing. We are extremely strong in this area,” Gardner said. “And engineering is an extremely popular major for international students. So, we want to showcase our additive manufacturing 3D printing program.”
Marie will be giving presentations in China that showcase the advantages of being an engineering major at YSU.
“One of the things that is exciting about us going to China is that we are going to highlight manufacturing and our new manufacturing program,” Marie said. The second thing is that we are not only going to highlight our manufacturing strengths at YSU, but our additive manufacturing strengths. We’re one of the premiere universities in additive manufacturing.”
She thinks that one thing that will make international students interested in YSU is its affiliation with America Makes.
“We have assembled an amazing team from the standpoint of designing for additive manufacturing,” Marie said. “From designers to innovative machines to the analysis of the parts, they’re my faculty. It makes me really proud. So, to have a chance to share it with the world is very exciting.”
It’s customary to give gifts to a host in China — two engineering students created 3D printed models of a penguin and a panda to represent YSU and China. After presenting a video at Chengdu University that shows the creation of those 3D models, Marie will present them to the university as an act of friendship and to create interest from students.
Gardner said she couldn’t have planned the trip without the collaboration of professors. Jiang helped coordinate the effort and translated emails for her. In the future, they would like to plan trips to other countries.
“We are really excited,” Gardner said. “We are looking forward to welcoming new international Chinese students on campus in the future and promoting our programs, and I’ve just been really pleased on how everyone has been working together to make this trip together.”