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Middle Tennessee State University gained an international partner with expertise in mechatronics engineering through a pact signed Thursday with Shanghai Second Polytechnic University.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and SSPU President Yu Tao signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow the universities to exchange students and faculty and develop joint research projects.
It is the third such agreement McPhee has signed in recent days during his delegation’s visit to China. It follows a new pact with Communication University of China in Beijing and a renewal of MTSU’s partnership with Hangzhou Normal University.
“We hope this agreement will lead to collaboration and cooperation between your engineering programs and our new mechatronics program,” McPhee said after touring SSPU’s laboratories. “There is much we could learn from each other.”
SSPU was founded in 1960 with an enrollment of about 20,000 students, said Vice President Zou Longfei. Engineering is its main discipline among its 31 undergraduate programs and it specializes in manufacturing of motor vehicles, aircraft and energy generation.
Yu said his university has cooperative agreements with institutions in Australia, Sweden, Great Britain, France and Thailand as well as 50 of the world’s top 500 business enterprises, including Siemens and Volkswagen.
McPhee noted MTSU’s and Tennessee’s connections to both Siemens and Volkswagen and expressed his hopes the universities could collaborate in joint studies and research to prepare students for work in such industries.
MTSU’s new Mechatronics Engineering degree program combines mechanical, computer and electrical engineering along with systems integration and technical project management. A surgical robot is a perfect example of a mechatronic system.
Rutherford County auto industry leaders Bridgestone, with a mechatronics facility at its La Vergne education center, and Nissan are among the partners in MTSU’s program.
Thursday’s ceremony at Shanghai was the fourth stop in McPhee’s latest visit to China. His delegation next travels to Changsha, Zhangjiajie and Xi’an.
Under McPhee’s watch, MTSU’s international student enrollment has increased from 396 to 789 in five years, and the university has 335 students in its education abroad programs this summer. It has more than 40 exchange agreements with institutions around the world.
Last May, MTSU signed a similar agreement with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, known as “China’s MIT,” that will also allow for the exchange of faculty and students between the institutions.