Celebrating Successes and Exploring New Partnerships in Beijing

On Sunday, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Peking University’s (PKU) Biomedical Engineering Department.  Georgia Tech’s relationship with PKU started with visits in 2004 and culminated in 2009, when together with Emory University, we created the joint PhD in Biomedical Engineering.  The program is the only one of its kind in the world and offers a unique opportunity for U.S. and Chinese students to learn and work together, spending time in both Beijing and Atlanta, and ultimately getting a degree signed by three universities!

For the partner universities, this program allows for an unprecedented opportunity to create a new paradigm for global biomedical engineering education and research. The celebration consisted of a symposium that brought together industry partners as well as faculty and students from all three institutions. The Georgia Tech delegation included Prof. Cheng Zhu, the director of the program, and Prof. Ravi Bellamkonda, chair of the Wallace H. Coulter School of Biomedical Engineering. They joined me to address the audience.

Dr. Sue Van of the Coulter Foundation was also in attendance to congratulate the PKU department of Biomedical Engineering. The Coulter Foundation has been a major supporter of the joint degree. I also had the pleasure of meeting with Prof. Jianhua Lin, president of PKU. We both pledged to do everything possible to make sure that the joint program continues its successful trajectory.

The last activity in this whirlwind tour of China was agreeing on a letter of intent with Baidu, the Google of China, to explore the delivery of educational content using Baidu’s online platform. Baidu’s strategy is to develop a service model, where their hundred of millions of users can connect to services of all types, including access to education. This O2O (online to offline) model is unique for a search engine, and the core of Baidu’s operation. Liang Zeng, vice president of Baidu and proud Georgia Tech alumnus (MS ENVE 1998; MS MGT 1999), is in charge of this O2O business unit. This is an exciting possibility that would allow Georgia Tech to reach an enormous population interested in learning from the best – and we are the best.

It has been an exciting trip, one that has opened many opportunities for Georgia Tech and our students. China is an extraordinary country that is truly impossible to fully appreciate without visiting it. In my more than 30 years of travel to China I have seen the seemingly unimaginable become a reality in China. The amount of growth, development and improvement of society is truly amazing, and the cultural transformation is unparalleled.

The modern cities of China have no comparison. Most importantly, the Chinese people are welcoming, very friendly to Americans, and eager to learn, work hard and improve themselves. Through the kind of education Georgia Tech provides and, we can create opportunities for our students and ensure countries come together and collaborate for a better world.

Rafael L. Bras

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Susie Ivy

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