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Conference on China@WPI a Success!

On May 7, more than 70 people gathered on WPI’s campus (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) to participate in the first annual Conference on China@WPI.  Sponsored by the US-China Link Initiative@WPI, MAC, and AIM-International Business Council, the conference brought together China experts from business, academics, and government for the benefit of regional manufacturers and local companies interested in exploring the business climate and business possibilities in China.   The day brought a wealth of information, and stimulated exciting discussions, and sparked a number of regional manufacturers and businesses to start exploring China opportunities. 

Opening remarks by Dr. Dennis Berkey (President of WPI), Mr. Jack Healy (President of MAC), and Ms. Kristen Rupert (Executive Director of AIM-IBC) established the general need for Massachusetts companies to expand their operations and become more integrated into the global economy.  Plenary speakers who followed delved into specific questions.  Mr. Kris Knutsen, Senior Manager of Deloitte’s US Chinese Services Group, analyzed the changing investment environment in China.  Ms. Xylina Wu of the Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment then discussed growth areas in China for Massachusetts businesses.  Taking a more on the ground approach, Mr. Kenneth McGuire of MAC presented five common mistakes of American manufacturers in China.  The last morning speaker, Dr. Yongzhen Yu Deputy Director of the Macroeconomics Division of the School of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, offered an overview of the future of China’s economy in terms of growth areas and potential problem areas.

While the morning focused on the large questions of the Chinese economy and business environment, the afternoon sessions featured Massachusetts-based companies with existing operations in China.  Amphenol’s Richard Schneider, Nypro’s Ronald Alciati, Darmann’s Peter Johnson, and Stanlok’s Al Barry came together to share their companies’, as well as their personal, experiences in China.  Besides demonstrating a wealth of knowledge of business operations, they also stressed the need for understanding local conditions and cultural norms.  Dr. Julia Dvorko rounded out the panel with her explanation of how the Massachusetts Export Center can help local businesses navigate opportunities and challenges in China. 

The second afternoon panel featured corporate sponsor, student, and faculty advisor participants in WPI’s China Project Site.  WPI has long been a leader in providing its students with a project-based learning curriculum, and it sends more engineering students abroad than any other engineering school.  For the past 5 years, students have been able to participate in project-based learning in China, working with multinational corporations with China operations.  Amphenol, Stanlok, and Nypro are among many multinational companies who have taken advantage of this program.  Students Michael Fitzpatrick and Emmanuel Akese, along with sponsors Richard Schneider, Ronald Alciati, and Al Barry, praised the program for the benefits it brings to both corporate sponsors and students.  Regional companies interested in working with WPI students in China should contact China Project Center co-directors Dr. Kevin Rong ([email protected]) or Dr. Amy Zeng ([email protected]).

Building on the foundation of project-based learning at WPI, as well as the expanding business opportunities in China, Professors Amy Zeng (Management), along with Kevin Rong (Mechanical Engineering) and Jennifer Rudolph (Humanities and Arts) established the US-China Link Initiative@WPI in 2009 with a grant from the Department of Education Business and International Education Program. MassMEP is the corporate sponsor for the Initiative. Led by Dr. Zeng, the US-China Link Initiative@WPI aims to establish WPI as an integrator of resources and expertise for regional companies and manufacturers conducting business in China.
For more details on the conference, including program, speaker bios, PPT presentations, and photos, please go the conference website: http://www.wpi.edu/news/ucbc/ucbcprogram.html.

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