Aug 22, 2015 | Atlanta, GA
Shanghai has long been a big city, with a rich and complicated history. Historically, its architecture has been marked by influences of French, British and American businesses, and the same is true now. One of its most famous landmarks is the Ritz-Carlton Hotel complex, a development and design of Georgia Tech’s very own John C. Portman, Jr. (ARCH 1950, Honorary Ph.D. 2012.) If you ever get lost in Shanghai just mention the Portman. Locals from Shanghai will know exactly where you want to go. With 14.35 million people, this megacity is an incredible sight. As shown in the attached photo, the city is nestled at the edge of the Bund and Huangpu rivers where its skyscrapers hug the shore.
Shanghai is the financial capital of China and one of its major high tech hubs. The city was an early pioneer as a builder of industrial parks. We had the opportunity to spend a whole Saturday morning with top leadership of Lingang Economic Development Group, including Yuan Guohua, president. The Lingang Group is the largest industrial real estate developer in Shanghai. The meeting was arranged by Georgia Tech alumnus, Peter Long (ChBE PhD ’98), president of Innovative Material and Devices, a company that at the moment focuses on biomedical dental applications. Peter, by the way, is a resident of Georgia. The Lingang Group provides full services to Long’s industrial park clients. We had a broad conversation spanning everything from planning to professional education.
The highlight of the Shanghai visit was the First Annual Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Get-Together dinner. This event attracted about 100 of our alumni/ae as well as parents of past and present students. It was a successful and delightful evening. The highlight was the announcement of the effort to establish the Georgia Tech Foundation in China. We need to capitalize the Foundation with about $500,000. It is seeded with $150,000 contributed by key alumni.
The attendees were wonderful. I was joined by prominent alumni including Liang Zeng, Vice President of Baidu; Peter Long, whom I mentioned previously, and Ed Zhao, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Milliken Asia. Also attending was Stella Xu, Director for China of the Georgia Office of Economic Development. She brought four corporate representatives of China industries.
Most satisfying was the attendance of about a dozen Coulter Fellows, master degree level graduates from our former program in Shanghai. They are an unbelievably accomplished young group that is making a difference in China – holding important positions in commerce, industry and government. They enjoyed the evening together with their patron, Sue Van of the Coulter Foundation, who made their graduate studies possible. We have over 250 graduates from that program, most in China and the US.
The most fun of the evening came during the live auction of a few items (a Georgia Tech basketball signed by coach Gregory, an antique Rummel print of the Georgia Tech campus, and dinner to be cooked by me at my home!) The bidding was active and at times very funny. We collected $10,000 for the Foundation. Believe it or not somebody paid $3,000 to eat my cooking!
It was a great visit to Shanghai. Next stop - Beijing.
- Rafael L. Bras