Globalink expands research reach to China

From the BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism & Innovation  

VANCOUVER – Eighteen of China’s future science stars are experiencing the world-class research going on at British Columbia universities – and finding out why they should return here for graduate school, or to become entrepreneurs.

This is the first time Chinese undergrad students have taken part in Mitacs Globalink internships, joining 28 top students from India who visited B.C. for three months earlier this summer. The Globalink program, sponsored by the Province, was pioneered in B.C. three years ago – and has since been adopted across Canada.

The program is already seeing results. For example, Girish Nivarti of Hyderabad, India, who came to B.C. as a Globalink intern in 2008, has chosen UBC for his master’s degree over MIT and Stanford, and will be starting his studies next month. He’s just graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur with the top marks for his thesis in mechanical engineering.

This year’s Indian students came from universities and technology institutes in Chennai, Pilani, Bombay, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Jharkand, Warangal, Chandigarh and Tamilnadu. The students from China, who go home later this month, are undergrads at universities in Beijing, Hangzhou and Wuhan. They are doing a wide variety of research under the direction of faculty at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria.

For instance, Xu Zhang from Tsinghua University in Beijing is working under Gary Wang at SFU’s School of Engineering Science. She is modelling and designing power trains for hybrid vehicles.

Chengzhao Li, from the same university, is doing her research with Rustom Bhiladvala at UVic’s department of mechanical engineering. Her experimental work focuses on producing microscopic gold wires that detect early signs of disease through their vibrations.

Qin Shibin, from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, is contributing to a research project under Lutz Lampe at UBC’s department of electrical and computer engineering. He’s working on a device that will allow electric wires in cars to be used to send signals to the vehicles’ computerized controls, saving weight and thus fuel.

The students are also given a taste of life on the West Coast, from touring Butchart Gardens to kayaking, as well as tours of some of the sophisticated research facilities operated by industry and post-secondary institutions. Today, for instance, some were visiting a secure nanotechnology lab at UBC to see nanofibres being electrospun, rolled and collected to make “yarn” that will eventually be made into everyday items like car struts. They were joined by Moira Stilwell, Parliamentary Secretary for Industry, Research and Innovation for the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation.

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