OSUIT Signs Agreement with Chinese Technical Institutes

(Okmulgee) — During a trip to China in October, Bob Klabenes, President of Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology, met with several technical colleges and institutes and signed two Memorandums of Understanding (). The s are the first critical step in entering into a mutually beneficial cooperative relationship. Klabenes had been following the education changes that were taking place in China and was intent on securing a collaborative opportunity for OSUIT to work with key Chinese technical universities.

The recent visit to China coincided with the Eleventh China International Forum on Education. Klabenes attended the conference with a group from the American Association of Community Colleges () where they learned firsthand about China’s massive investment in technical education and toured several technical universities designated as “model schools” by the Chinese government. Prior to going to China, OSUIT had already identified key institutions and areas for potential collaboration. OSUIT was able to sign memorandums of understanding with two of the largest model technical institutes in the country, Beijing Polytechnic College and Nanjing Institute of Industrial Technology.

China is undergoing a massive change in higher education to better meet its industrial and manufacturing demands. Within the past few years, the government of China has been investing heavily in the development and equipping of technical colleges and institutes throughout the country. According to educators with the who attended this conference last year, there has been a big change in the mindset of the Chinese government about higher education. In the past, the government was spending a great portion of its educational funding on universities dedicated to research and liberal arts. Now the government has moved major resources to focus on technical institutions.

Klabenes toured some of what the Chinese government has designated as “model” technical colleges and institutes that have received extra resources and enhanced industry participation in order to model best practices in technical education. “They have excellent facilities and equipment,” says Klabenes. “I visited one technical institution that had what they called an ‘Intelligent Greenhouse,’ which has a computer controlled environment – it was very amazing. The opportunity to organize and deliver ‘hands-on’ student learning in this type of infrastructure is something that many of us dream about.”

At Beijing Polytechnic College, Klabenes was shown an automation and robotics lab, an electronics lab, computer labs, and a manufacturing lab that had the same type of equipment OSUIT has in its automated manufacturing labs. The opportunity for OSUIT is to share its approach to the teaching-learning process in order to make better use of the equipment to truly prepare students to go to work in a productive fashion.

The collaboration with the Chinese universities will increase OSUIT’s Asian student recruitment effort. Study abroad and exchanges will help OSUIT students as well as faculty better understand Asian international business mindsets and practices. Professional development opportunities for Chinese and OSUIT faculty and staff will be very instrumental in furthering rapport and relationships between two of the world’s key economic powers.

Klabenes feels one of the first steps for an institution like OSUIT is in the direction of offering professional development workshops with the Chinese faculty. “The university administrators that I visited with have a great deal of interest in the further professional development of their faculty members. The s signed call for some of their faculty members to come to OSUIT for both short-term and long-term pedagogy training with respect to applications-based or hands-on training. In turn, they will also be able to share information on the Chinese culture and network with the OSUIT campus and community members.”

Klabenes expects to see several of OSUIT’s faculty go to China for a few weeks, a month or even a semester. “The idea would be that after their faculty came to OSUIT, our faculty would go to their institutions and help them implement what they’ve learned in their own institution.” Klabenes states that the key to a long-term successful experience with China is for the first two or three groups that come to OSUIT to have a highly successful experience. OSUIT is looking forward to receiving faculty members from one or two of the model 100 technical institutions.

Nanjing Polytechnic University and Beijing Polytechnic College were two universities with which Klabenes signed Memorandums of Understanding (s). These are documents which basically identify areas in which the schools could interact, exchange students and faculty and share mutually beneficial methodologies. “I think these agreements will provide good possibilities for interaction,” said Klabenes. “The s are with two of the model technical institutes that China has designated for its focus on building out technical education in that country. Beijing is, of course, the nation’s capitol and Nanjing is the second largest commercial center in the East China region. It’s an exciting opportunity for OSUIT, but you know — it’s a great opportunity for them as well!”

Updated 12-28-2010

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