School of Future Technology
Answering the Call of Government, Tackling Challenges of Our Times, and Facilitating Higher Education Development
With the advent of the fourth industrial revolution and industrial transformation, the rapid development of science and technology has brought about breakthroughs in pioneering and revolutionary technologies, profoundly influencing human production and lifestyle, social progress, and the international landscape. Accelerating training engineers with scientific attainment is a historical mission for higher education to seize the opportunity for scientific and technological development and sustain the high-quality development of modern industry and the economy.
We are in greater need of talents than in any other historical period. We must prepare for potential risks and unexpected developments and emphasize independent talent cultivation. We should give full play to thepioneering role of high-level research universities and bring industries, universities, and research institutes together to jointly tackle key problems centering on national key areas and industries. We should motivate universities and enterprises to promote in-depth integration of industries, universities, and research institutes.
In July 2021, XJTU officially announced the establishment of the School of Future Technology and the School of Modern Industry (hereafter referred to as “The Two Schools”) in response to national development strategy needs, needs for progress and innovation of our times, and universities need to cultivate leading talents. The construction of “The Two Schools” is a major project to effect breakthroughs in integrating industry and research, enhance cooperation in removing education barriers, and conquer difficulties in the commercialization of scientific and technological advances. It’s a bold attempt to solve three major issues of “teachers only for teaching”, “students only for learning”, and “school only for supervising” through reform and innovation and to break the restrictions of the traditional teaching and training model of “a teacher, a textbook, chalk, and PPT slides.” This is an important step XJTU has taken to generate high-quality development of higher education.
Giving Service to the University and Striving to Be World-class with a Clear Position and Goal
“The Two Schools” is XJTU’s secondary unit and comprehensive institution that “serves the schools, integrates industry with research, and promotes project-driven cooperation in education under the principle of joint contribution and shared benefits.” As a “testing field” for XJTU’s reform and innovation education mode and given future technology and major national needs, “The Two Schools” has continued deepening the integration of research with education and industry with research, as well as the enterprise-university cooperation in education, simultaneously propelling the in-depth integration of “industry, innovation, information, capital, and policy chains.” Integrating government, enterprises, universities, research institutes, and funds, “The Two Schools” has established a special zone for education and research results transformation, building an organic system facilitating processes from talent cultivation to commercialization of achievements, basic research to core technologies, and “research findings” to “achievement application.” This system and the current disciplines are closely integrated, complementing each other, providing strong support for discipline development in talent cultivation, academic achievement output, commercialization of research results, and cultivating engineers with scientific attainment.
Ensuring Scientific Planning and Precise Management to Achieve Sustained Development and Rapid Growth
I. Measures Taken and Current Situation
Approved by the Ministry of Education of China, XJTU has been included in the first group of institutions in China allowed to build a School of Future Technology that currently focuses on Artificial Intelligence, Energy Storage Science and Engineering, Intelligent Manufacturing Engineering, and Medical Engineering. It has 73 students, including 35 undergraduates, 18 Master’s students, and 20 doctoral students.
1. Deepening Interdisciplinary Education and University-Enterprise Cooperation and Developing an Undergraduate-Master’s-Doctoral Student Well-Rounded Education System
The School of Future Technology was established with research primarily focused on meeting China’s most urgent needs, forging into international frontiers, and enhancing China’s technological competitiveness, aiming to stimulate students’ innovation and creativity, breaking the traditional education model of engineering science, and striving to implement major reforms in “teaching, learning, and management.” The School also attempts to develop a new education model driven by interdisciplinary projects and features with diversification, cutting-edge research, and modularization.
(1). Developing a Project-driven Education Mode
The School of Future Technology has established or reinvented 29 undergraduate and postgraduate courses, including 18 project courses. The School has built an “academic-practical” interdisciplinary teaching team with enterprise and university backgrounds. The school staff includes 166 academic instructors, including academicians, scholars included in national-level programs to support leading or outstanding talents, and 43 enterprise tutors from 21 industry-leading enterprises and research institutes, including Huawei, Northwest Electric Power Design Institute, and China Aviation Lithium Battery Technology Co., Ltd. (CALB). The School matches postgraduate students enrolled in 2021 with university, enterprise, and venture capital mentors. Among the 25 mentors, 20 are from large state-owned enterprises (research institutes), Fortune Global 500 companies, or industry-leading high-tech enterprises, accounting for 80%.
(2). Establishing an Academic Degree Sub-committee of the School of Future Technology, Highlighting Interdisciplinary Education with In-depth Participation of Enterprise Professionals
The sub-committee has 23 members, including 18 experts from 9 disciplines and 5 professionals from leading enterprises and research institutes such as Huawei and China United Northwest Institute for Engineering Design & Research.
(3). Creating a Favorable Environment for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Holding Creative Events
The School has held a series of activities such as “Future Entrepreneur Forum” and “Coffee Hour” to invite experts and student delegates inside and outside XJTU to share their innovation and entrepreneurship experiences. The School also established scholarships to encourage students to engage in cultural and sports activities, social services, innovation, and entrepreneurship activities to comprehensively foster students’ overall development in moral, intellectual, physical, and aesthetic grounding with a hard-working spirit.
2. Leveraging Government and Enterprises’ Advantages to Build a New Industry-Research Integrating Innovation Practice Platform
The School of Future Technology has adhered to the principles of “shared resources, mutual complementarity, win-win cooperation, and common development,” making full use of the policy package of “society providing resources, universities, and enterprises employing talents, government offering support, and each side gaining benefits,” to strengthen the university-locality and university-enterprise cooperation, establishing a long-term cooperative partnership with stability and sustainability between enterprises, universities, and research institutes, and building a team of “scientists + engineers” to integrate industrial and academic education and conducting cooperation in education.
(1). Constructing an Innovation Practice Platform of Future Technology
The platform covers an area of about 1,670 square meters, including platforms for machinery processing, electricity experiments, medical engineering, and platforms for the medical engineering section in the course Design Thinking. The School has created an open shared experiment space, providing robust support for teachers and students to conduct scientific research.
(2). Building an Industry-Research Innovation Consortium
The School has cooperated with leading research institutes and enterprises such as the Academy of Aerospace Propulsion Technology, Huawei, Haier Group, Shaanxi Branch of China Telecom Group, and China Unicom Western Innovation Research Institute to build an interdisciplinary innovation consortium. Focusing on meeting China’s most critical needs, forging into international frontiers, and enhancing China’s technological competitiveness, the School has adopted an industrial plus academic education model and enterprise-university cooperation in education. The school has built an enterprise-university innovation platform for national energy storage technology with a construction fund of 439.49 million yuan.
Fostering character and civic virtue as the fundamental mission and centered on XJTU priorities, “The Two Schools” has focused on future technology and major national needs and continued deepening the integration of research with teaching and industry with academic well as university-enterprise cooperation in education. By continuously advancing the reform of education mode and the construction of an innovation consortium, the School has set targets to cultivate engineers with scientific attainment and provide support for XJTU in developing to become a world-class university with Chinese characteristics.
II. Academic Directions
1. Artificial Intelligence
Founded in 1986, the XJTU Institute of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics is the earliest specialized research institute of artificial intelligence in China, with Academician Zheng Nanning (CAE member) in charge. Based on the second-level discipline Mode Recognition and Intelligent System, the institute conducts teaching, scientific research, and high-level talent training with a high-level well-structured teaching and research team of outstanding members. Having developed for over 30 years, the team has gradually formed a unique education culture and system, cultivated a group of leading talents in academia and industry, and made the institute an important base for cultivating high-level innovation talents.
2. Energy Storage Science and Engineering
This direction will integrate XJTU’s 6 major science and engineering disciplines (Electrical Engineering, Energy and Power Engineering, etc.), including storage of Thermal Energy, Electromagnetic Energy, and Energy. Academician He Yaling (CAS member) is responsible for the Thermal Energy Storage direction. The Advanced Energy Storage and Carbon Neutrality Technology innovation team led by Academicians He Yaling and Tao Wenquan, the Advanced Hybrid Energy Storage Technology of Air Compression and Pumped Storage team led by Professors Xi Guang and Wang Huanran, and the Efficient and Flexible Energy Conversion of Large-scale Multi-energy Complementation System team led by Professor Yan Junjie all belong to this sub-direction. Electromagnetic Energy Storage has a research and development team on lithium-ion batteries and super-capacitors led by Professor Xu Youlong. Professor Ding Shujiang leads a research and development team on Hydrogen Energy Storage. The Energy Storage System has a team of Electricity Storage Equipment and System Application led by Professors Bie Chaohong and Song Zhengxiang and a team of Energy Storage System Integration led by Academician Guan Xiaohong.
3. Intelligent Manufacturing Engineering
Professor Chen Xuefeng, Dean of the School of Mechanical Engineering and recipient of the China National Funds for Distinguished Young Scientists, and Professor Mei Xuesong, a national-level talent, were assigned to lead the Intelligent Manufacturing Engineering team with Academicians Lu Bingheng, Jiang Zhuangde, and Li Yinghong as development consultants. These academicians have long been engaged in researching intelligent equipment and intelligent factory, robot, and advanced laser manufacturing. This sub-direction currently has 19 teachers (1 member won National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, 11 Ph.D. supervisors), including 8 professors, 4 associate professors, 1 research fellow, 1 associate research fellow, 1 engineer, and 6 assistant research fellows (some teachers simultaneously hold two posts). In recent years, they have undertaken over 100 national-level and provincial/ministerial-level projects, including the National Key Research and Development Program, the National Major Science and Technology Special Program, the 973 Program (National Key Basic Research Program of China), the 863 Program (National High Technology Research and Development Program of China), the LJ Special Program, the State Key Program Funded by the National Natural Science of China, as well as enterprise-university cooperative research projects.
4. Medical Engineering
Professor Lü Yi, XJTU’s vice-president and President of the First Affiliated Hospital of XJTU, was assigned to take charge of this sub-direction. The development consultants are Academicians Xu Zongben, Zhao Hongwei, Zhang Pingxiang, Zhang Xinshi, Gu Ying, and Wang Chen. The Medical Engineering team is based on the First Affiliated Hospital of XJTU, the School of Physics, the Faculty of Electronics and Information Engineering, the Frontier Institute of Science and Technology, the School of Mechanical Engineering, the School of Life Science and Technology, the School of Materials Science and Engineering, and so on. The team has long been engaged in interdisciplinary technology innovation and R&D equipment for medical engineering based on sound, light, electricity, magnetism, nuclear, and other physical elements. In recent years, they have undertaken some 100 projects, including the Major Scientific Instrument Projects Funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Key Research and Development Program of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, the Major Research Program for Coexisting-Cooperative-Cognitive Robots, the Innovation Team Program of the Ministry of Education of China, and the Innovation Team Program of Shaanxi Province.