Local entrepreneur, computer and information sciences department hold symposium for students from Chinese university

When the leader of a high-tech startup wanted to help Chinese students study software engineering in America, he asked for assistance from the Department of Computer & Information Sciences (CIS) in the University of Delaware’s College of Engineering.

The result: The 2017 CIS Summer Science Symposium, which was held at UD from July 17 to August 11.

A group of 22 sophomores from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC) School of Information and Software Engineering, located in Chengdu, participated. UESTC, known for excellence in this field, is ranked No. 54 in the world for computer science, according to the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings.

This symposium consisted of four workshops, three that were facilitated by CIS professors. Professor Adarsh Sethi led sessions on networks, associate professor Li Liao led sessions on artificial intelligence, and emeritus professor Sandee Carberry led sessions on data mining.

A fourth workshop was facilitated by Frank Yang, CEO of InfoRobot, a company focused on artificial intelligence system development that’s based in nearby Chadds Ford, Pa.

Yang, who also has an office in Chengdu and a close relationship with UESTC, approached CIS about starting this program last fall.

Many students in China want to learn how software engineering is taught in the U.S., Yang said, so he wanted to partner with a university to offer this experience. As he scoped out local institutions, UD’s strong computer science faculty impressed him.

“UD is the perfect match for this type of symposium,” he said.

T. Gregory Lynch, CIS business administrator and adjunct associate professor, negotiated the symposium agreement between the two institutions, managing all associated logistics — curriculum and faculty instruction, housing and dining arrangements and more.

While participants learned plenty about software engineering, they also received some cultural education. Department of History associate professor Jonathan Russ gave presentations on the history of UD via a campus walking tour and a lecture on Delaware as the first state in the Union.

The students also took cultural weekend excursions to nearby U.S. cities–Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia. They enjoyed a six-hour shopping excursion to the local Christiana Mall, too.

Representatives from the College of Engineering, and the Office for International Students and Scholars met with the students to discuss possible transfer to UD undergraduate programs as well as attendance here for graduate school.

At a closing ceremony last week, students received a certificate of program completion from Babatunde Ogunnaike, dean of the College of Engineering and Kathy McCoy, CIS professor and chair.

Ogunnaike congratulated the students for participating in this first-of-its-kind event and emphasized the importance of global connections.

“As your generation is starting to find out, the world is small,” he said.

UD has 181 global partnerships and agreements with other universities, including UESTC. Through a recent agreement with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, students can earn UD undergraduate and master’s degrees in engineering degree by spending three years at UESTC and two at UD. Other UD agreements with UESTC colleges and schools exist within the colleges of Arts and Sciences; Earth, Ocean and Environment; and Business and Economics

“I’m hoping we can expand upon this inaugural symposium,” said Ogunnaike.