Country for PR: China
Contributor: Xinhua News Agency
Monday, January 14 2019 - 18:29
Shaping the future: How Zhejiang University transforms lives
HANGZHOU, China, Jan.14, 2019/Xinhua-AsiaNet/--

Responsibility. Hard work. Loyalty. These are the three tenets of a good life 
according to Zhejiang University Associate Professor Imran Haider Shamsi; a man 
who embodies the university's motto: seeking truth, pursuing innovation.

Eighteen years at ZJU has helped to cultivate Shamsi's talent, from 
undergraduate student to Ph.D. and Postdoc holder to becoming its first foreign 
faculty member of the Department of Agronomy, College of Agriculture and 

"I was made in ZJU by ZJU and for ZJU," says Shamsi. "I know my Pakistani 
ancestors and my family and my beliefs; I never lose my identity. But I have 
also adopted the Chinese culture with a very open heart."

Having embraced the opportunities offered to him as a student of ZJU, Shamsi is 
deeply passionate about his role as a teacher helping nurture future 
generations of ZJU students and he has amassed multiple awards, including the 
first place in the 2016 National University Young Teacher's competition. He 
believes ZJU, as one of China's leading research-intensive universities, is 
providing a pioneering environment for the creation and dissemination of 

Academic freedom is felt throughout ZJU and positively encourages the pursuit 
of interdisciplinary collaboration, the application of research to real-world 
problems, and the exploration of new ideas and concepts. 

It is an approach that manifests in ZJU's International Design Institute, as 
its deputy director Lingyun Sun explains: "We are good at inviting professors 
and students from other majors to join us. We think the most creative area is 
where science meets art, meets design, meets engineering -- these four areas 
coming together can provide immense opportunities."

"Our ideas are concerned with how we can invent the future and ZJU is unique 
because of the environment, because of our joint institute with Alibaba (the 
Chinese e-commerce giant headquartered in Hangzhou) and because of the local 
manufacturing background. It is very interesting for us to have the opportunity 
to encourage students to transfer their ideas into the market."

The latest exhibition of ZJU design students' work included origami robots, an 
electric bicycle and a technology pillow that helps users enter a shallow sleep 
by simulating the 'white noise' of nature. Additionally, a lighting product 
that was on show is proving a huge commercial success.

Innovation is also evident in the teaching at ZJU and in 2018 one of its most 
creative and popular instructors, Weng Kai, was honoured with the Yongping 
Outstanding Teaching Contribution Award. Across the 14 courses per year he 
teaches, Weng's classes are heavily attended, while he has also attracted 2 
million registrations for his Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

"I'm kind of a 'wild' teacher in that I wasn't trained in a normal way. I 
graduated, thought maybe I could be good at teaching and wanted to do it," 
offers Weng modestly when asked about his teaching style. "Actually, Zhejiang 
University has a very good tradition in how it teaches students. I graduated 
here, and I have the experience of the teachers here. I even use in my classes 
some of the examples taught to me by my teachers, so it's like an inheritance, 
a legacy."

Weng has been at the frontline of teaching and education reform at ZJU for 23 
years. He believes that the close relationship between teachers and students at 
ZJU is crucial to success. "The students here feel part of a big family, we are 
quite close."

Emphasising that point, Ma Keyi, an undergraduate in Chu Kochen Honours 
College, which is attended by the top 5% of ZJU's students, is eager to give 
examples of how she has been supported in her endeavours. 

"The college provides us with a lot of resources," she says. "I have 
opportunities to do research and publish papers. Meanwhile, I can do 
internships to gain experience and put theory into practice. If you have an 
idea and you want to implement it the college will help you, if you want to 
study abroad the college will fund it, if you want to do anything that is 
valuable or meaningful the college supports you and will provide the resources."

ZJU also has an impressive record of supporting its students to achieve success 
in global competitions. In 2018 the university claimed victories at the Tokyo 
International Choir Competition, the RoboCup and the International Genetically 
Engineered Machine competition. 

The RoboCup -- a humanoid version of football's World Cup -- was held in 
Montreal, Canada and offered the team from ZJU the chance to demonstrate their 
innovative ideas in a competition that is designed to promote robotics and 
Artificial Intelligence Research, as well as push advances in technologies. 

Chen Zexi, a member of the victorious team, revealed it was a surprise success: 
"We won the small size league. It was amazing. We won in 2013 and 2014 but this 
year we did not think about being champions because we were trying out new 
innovations. I have to give credit to the university for the great support we 
get and the funding."

ZJU's stated aims include advancing civilization, serving and leading society, 
and promoting national prosperity, social development and human progress. Its 
policies are providing the platforms for its students and staff to excel, just 
as it did with Shamsi nearly two decades ago. Wherever a person comes from, and 
whatever their background is, ZJU is eager to guide their evolution.

"A foreign talent should never consider themselves as a foreigner," Shamsi 
says, "Instead, consider yourself as part of the society where you are and then 
you can contribute. Take responsibility for life, yourself, your work, your 
family and your organisation. Never be afraid of hard work. Show loyalty 
towards family, tradition, country, and the organisation you work for."

"I will tell you a secret: Every morning when I arrive at work at ZJU, I tell 
myself that it was ZJU that gave me respect and honour, and with this belief I 
start my day. This is the love I have for this college."

Source: Zhejiang University

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