Eighteen of China's future science stars are experiencing the world-class research going on at British Columbia universities - and finding out why they should return here for graduate school, or to become entrepreneurs.
This is the first time Chinese undergrad students have taken part in Mitacs Globalink internships, joining 28 top students from India who visited B.C. for three months earlier this summer. The Globalink program, sponsored by the Province, was pioneered in B.C. three years ago - and has since been adopted across Canada.
The Chinese students come from universities in Beijing, Hangzhou and Wuhan, and are doing a wide variety of research under the direction of faculty at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria.
For instance, Xu Zhang from Tsinghua University in Beijing is working under Gary Wang at SFU's School of Engineering Science. She is modelling and designing power trains for hybrid vehicles.
Chengzhao Li, from the same university, is doing her research with Rustom Bhiladvala at UVic's department of mechanical engineering. Her experimental work focuses on producing microscopic gold wires that detect early signs of disease through their vibrations.
Qin Shibin, from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, is contributing to a research project under Lutz Lampe at UBC's department of electrical and computer engineering. He's working on a device that will allow electric wires in cars to be used to send signals to the vehicles' computerized controls, saving weight and thus fuel.
The students are also given a taste of life on the West Coast, from touring Butchart Gardens to kayaking, as well as tours of some of the sophisticated research facilities operated by industry and post-secondary institutions. Today, for instance, some were visiting a secure nanotechnology lab at UBC to see nanofibres being electrospun, rolled and collected to make "yarn" that will eventually be made into everyday items like car struts. They were joined by Moira Stilwell, Parliamentary Secretary for Industry, Research and Innovation for the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation.
The program is already seeing results. For example, Girish Nivarti of Hyderabad, India, who came to B.C. as a Globalink intern in 2008, has chosen UBC for his master's degree over MIT and Stanford, and will be starting his studies next month. He's just graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur with the top marks for his thesis in mechanical engineering,
- Mitacs is a national research organization dedicated to developing the next generation of innovators with vital scientific and business skills in partnership with companies, government and academia.
- Globalink is one of several programs developed and run by Mitacs, which has received $14.7 million from the Province since 2007.
- The program, which costs about $15,000 per student, is also funded by Western Economic Diversification.
- China is the world's second largest economy, second only to the United States. It's also one of the world's largest markets for medical equipment and information and communications technology, and is looking for science solutions to its environmental challenges.
- In science and technology, industrial and academic collaboration go hand in hand. For Canada and China to build stronger industrial ties, such academic collaborations are extremely important.
- This program not only gives Chinese students a chance to work with Canadian researchers, but also helps build relationships between universities in both jurisdictions.
- China is B.C.'s second largest trading partner, and B.C. exports more goods and commodities to China than any other Canadian province - over 31 per cent of the national total.
- Between 2001 and 2010, the value of British Columbia's total exports to China increased by more than 420 per cent.
- China's companies are expanding their interests overseas (US$59 billion in 2010, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce) and represent a growing source of investment and strategic partnerships for B.C. companies in priority sectors like forestry, mining and minerals, international education, tourism and the green economy.
Mitacs Globalink: http://www.mitacs.ca/globalink
B.C.'s trade relationship with China: https://trade.britishcolumbia.ca/Export/Markets/AsiaPacific/Pages/ChinaMarket.aspx?Section=Export
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation