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China Corner

U.S. China Link

By: Jennifer Rudolph

The new US-China Link Initiative, a partnership between WPI and MassMEP, aims to channel WPI’s China expertise toward helping Massachusetts manufacturers interested in hiring employees with China experience, considering suppliers located in China, and/or expanding into Chinese markets.  The grant, spearheaded by Professors Amy Zeng (Management), Kevin Rong (Mechanical Engineering), and Jennifer Rudolph (China Studies) brings together a broad range of China specialties to expand China programs for WPI students and the greater community.   Here we highlight how the US-China Initiative will help create a pool of China knowledge and experience geared toward meeting the needs of the region’s manufacturers.

WPI sends more engineering students overseas than any other engineering school in the country.  Since 2005, WPI has sent 64 students to China, with the numbers increasing every year; the range of projects, cities, and sponsors has increased as well.   With the US-China Link Initiative, the program will expand even further.   Local manufacturers will then have a cohort of young workers with the practical education of a WPI degree and the hard-to-acquire, hands-on experience of working in China.

Students participating in the China program work on actual business and engineering problems of sponsoring companies in Wuhan, Beijing, and Nanjing.  Corporate sponsors have included Nypro, Caterpillar China, Saint Gobain China, UTC China, REM, among others.  Once a sponsor identifies a project, teams of American and Chinese students together tackle problems ranging from lean manufacturing implementation to supply risk management to design analysis and optimization of automotive components.  By working on actual business and engineering projects, the students gain valuable skills, including the ability to respond quickly to changes, communicate effectively, and understand solution impacts.   Just as important, they also gain experience in the Chinese work environment, giving them greater understanding of both Chinese cultural and business practices—experience that will benefit their future US employers.  Upon graduation they have the skills and confidence necessary to participate in our increasingly globalized economy—an economy where China’s role will only continue to increase.  Their China experience will aid them and their American employers in direct and indirect ways for years to come.

Not only does this program produce prepared future employees, but it also provides a wealth of information on Chinese business practices and work environments.  To harness that information and make it accessible, graduate Business School students at WPI collect and analyze this information in order to provide valuable case studies for those businesses interested in exploring more China options.  These case studies will be available to MassMEP network members.

For more information on the US-China Link Initiative, please contact Professor Amy Zeng at [email protected].

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