University undergraduates to learn about clean energy initiatives in China

Thirty University of Chicago undergraduate students will work and study green technology in China this June, as part of the Wanxiang Ambassador Fellows program announced Tuesday.

The students will study the Chinese language and learn about Chinese culture and clean energy initiatives.

The program is part of the Obama Administration’s 100,000 Strong Initiative, a national effort to increase the number and diversity of American students studying in China. 

University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer and Pin Ni, President of Wanxiang America Corporation, signed a memorandum of understanding at a ceremony to mark the program’s launch. Also speaking at the event were Zhao Weiping, Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Chicago, and Richard M. Daley, former Mayor of Chicago and former Co-Chair of President Obama’s 100,000 Strong Initiative.

With financial support from Wanxiang America, the University’s Office of Career Advancement will administer the program, which will engage UChicago students in Chinese language and cultural studies, and offer them an opportunity to work on the development of sustainable green energy technologies.

“This opportunity for students in our College to learn and work on issues of real importance, in the context of China’s fast-growing energy sector, contributes an important piece to the University’s deepening engagement in China,” Zimmer said. “We are grateful to Wanxiang for supporting this collaboration and helping to enrich our students’ educations.”

To prepare, UChicago students will first visit the Wanxiang America Corporation headquarters in Elgin, Ill. They will then travel as a group to Hangzhou, China.

Students will reside at the Wanxiang Polytechnic College during the six-week program, which will include organized, experiential field trips to a solar farm, an electric vehicle factory, and an energy storage station; clean energy and sustainability studies; and a chance to visit the Wanxiang laboratories and meet with its researchers.  

“I am very pleased to collaborate with the University of Chicago, and to give its students more opportunities to study in China,” Ni said. “My hope is that they will learn about Chinese culture and clean energy science through this program.”

The Wanxiang Polytechnic College faculty, assisted by UChicago Career Advancement staff, are developing the program curriculum. The University of Chicago Center in Beijing also will facilitate and support the program, including hosting a celebratory reception for the Wanxiang Ambassador Fellows as part of their culture tour to Beijing in July.

The Wanxiang Ambassador Fellows Program is part of the University’s Jeff Metcalf Internship Program, named in honor of Harold “Jeff” Metcalf, AM’53, who was Dean of Students at the Graduate School of Business from 1956 to 1975 and Director of Athletics from 1976 to 1981.

"Career Advancement is very excited to be a part of this great program with Wanxiang. The students who have been selected for the Wanxiang Ambassador Fellows Program are all exceptionally talented and driven individuals, coming from varying backgrounds and with a wide range of academic and professional interests," said Meredith Daw, executive director of Career Advancement. "The opportunity to learn more about green technology directly from today's experts, and to experience the growth of our global economy firsthand is something that will have a lasting impact on these students' success now and in the future."

During the Fall Quarter, the University will host an event, featuring presentations by the students on their experiences and training through the Wanxiang Ambassador Fellows Program.