In 2005, the University of Kentucky College of Engineering formed a partnership with China University of Mining and Technology (CUMT). The goal of this cooperation was to offer a program of exchange for students and staff on both sides that would be mutually beneficial. September marks the seventh anniversary of this partnership, which continues to grow and has been home to nearly 30 students studying in the various fields of engineering, as well as Dr. Cao Wei, an associate professor and director of graduate studies at CUMT.
Wei, a native of Beijing, China, has earned a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering, a master’s in management engineering and a Ph.D. in business administration. He credits his extensive schooling, proficiency in English and interest in student welfare as key reasons for his nomination by CUMT to serve as a liaison between the two universities. Wei’s role at UK mainly consists of ensuring the program’s progress, but he also helps new students to the program become acclimated to life in Kentucky.
“This exchange program acts as an open door to Chinese students’ education abroad. Students study for two years at CUMT before coming to UK. Once here they continue on with their coursework in engineering, but also acquire a university experience that differs from that of CUMT,” said Wei.
The well-being of students both inside and outside of the classroom has been of particular interest to Wei throughout his career, as he has served as a student mentor for 18 years. Wei noted that he and many of the exchange students find aspects of student life at UK to be fascinating.
Receiving emails from President Capilouto addressing the UK community as a whole was a new experience for Wei, and he found this open channel of communication to be a good method of management. Wei also enjoyed learning about many student organizations present on campus, finding fraternities and sororities the most interesting, since they do not exist at Chinese universities. He also commented positively on the study habits of UK students and the encouragement they receive from professors to learn by doing.
Wei acts as a visible connection between UK and CUMT. An important duty of Wei’s included the creation and maintenance of a database that allows both universities to stay in contact with the exchange students once their time at UK has ended. This tool also provides updates to the students’ careers, along with useful information about the program’s students. Wei says he will return to China with newfound knowledge, perspectives and an appreciation for his experiences at UK.
“In recent years, CUMT has strengthened international partnerships throughout the world establishing academic links with nearly 50 universities and research institutions. The Cooperative Education Agreement with UK’s College of Engineering has been very productive for CUMT’s engineering majors,” said Wei.
“Among international exchange programs at UK, this one has proven to be most fruitful and continues to provide positive results. This program not only provides those from China who study here with great opportunities, but has also helped to diversify the student body within the College of Engineering,” noted Professor G.T. Lineberry, associate dean for commonwealth and international programs.
As this program’s success continues, Wei expressed great interest in expanding the collaboration to other areas of study, such as the Gatton College of Business and Economics. Although no formal arrangements have been made between CUMT and Gatton, there is possibility for a partnership in the future.
Adhering to the University of Kentucky Strategic Plan, the Cooperative Education Agreement between UK’s College of Engineering and CUMT serves as a tactic to meet UK’s goals and objectives. In particular, the program has been able to facilitate the enrollment of an increased number of international, high-ability students. It has also produced a global collaboration offering the educational advantages of diversity and inclusion.