Saturday Morning, November 20, 1999:

Meeting with the Construction Engineering College at Chongqing University


The delegation was greeted by Dr. Fu Quang, Director, Office of International Relations. The meeting began with team leader and self-introductions. The Chinese delegation represented diverse fields of study including; structural engineering, civil engineering, seismic design and mechanics. The format for the meeting was an open dialog among the participants.

Chongqing University is the national "key" university in China. It is under the direction of the Ministry of Construction of the People's Republic of China. Accordingly, it is assigned a lot of research by the Central Government. The university has several faculties and specialties including; Architecture and Urban Planning, Civil Engineering, Urban Construction, Environmental Engineering, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Construction Management and Geo-techniques. The main educational focus of the university is the field of construction in general. Its mission is to train personnel for a booming construction industry, including contractors. It is assigned to consult on some projects, thus, it is involved with the Three Gorges Project.

President Zhu Jialin noted that there are 2000 universities in China with Civil Engineering disciplines and there are 25 Universities in Chongqing alone. Chongqing University was founded in 1952. It has the largest Civil Engineering program with a total of 2,500 students in the undergraduate program. Approximately 700 new students enter each year. This past year the University experienced a 35% enrollment increase. President Jialin stressed that there are many opportunities for lecturers in the field of construction as well in for contractors because 'all of China can become a construction site.' The cost of tuition is $300 per year but this only covers a small percentage of the total cost to educate a student. Students have to buy their own books. The government pays 50% of the tuition cost. The university also brings in money to support education costs by faculty conducted research. There is a strong emphasis on professors doing consulting work because in addition to bringing in money, it helps to subsidize low faculty salaries and it provides the faculty with valued practical experiences.

As in the US, teaching at the University level is reserved for students with postgraduate experience. One must have a master's degree to teach and a PHD to be promoted. Ten years ago it was not appealing to enter the teaching profession. Today it is much more attractive. The faculty is mostly Chinese, but 70% come from other universities (domestic or abroad) or have been educated at other universities. Every year there are 5-7 foreign teachers. Students come from many countries including Japan, UK, North and South Korea, Canada and the Netherlands. This year there are 2200 freshmen with 25% from the local area. Students must pass an entrance exam and the University gets the first selection of the top candidates.

The curriculum of the program is different from the West in that the students must take Physical Education, Foreign Language and Political Science courses. All undergraduate students must take basic foundation courses during the first year. The amount of computer technology is purposely limited in the overall curriculum. AutoCAD is required but only about 1/3 of design work can be done on the computer. All students must take at least 60 courses in four years. All students at the university regardless of discipline must take some basic engineering courses. Job placement is great because construction is in a boom period. Also, Civil Engineering is a respected field, partly due to the high entrance exam, so graduates can command top pay. Formerly graduates were assigned a place of work by the government. Today, graduates can choose where they want to work. Unfortunately, only a few of the graduates enter into the teaching program. There is a shortage of engineers, construction professionals and teachers and this will be a growing problem due to the boom in construction.

Accreditation of universities started 5 years ago. There are many requirements to meet before being a candidate. The central government has agreements with ICE, ASCE and other professional organizations with the goal being to elevate university standing via accreditation in order to be recognized by the international academic community. After accreditation, the university must go through reviews every six years.

Most projects in China have been designed by Chinese architects. Foreign architects, however, often design large projects. Large-scale projects are designed through teamwork combining various disciplines. In China there is a master plan for everything. This concept is very new. Most planning is from the center of the city. In Chongqing, they are taking a different approach. The planning concept has first taken into account the surrounding communities. This is due to the mountainous topography. Great attention has been given to preserving the skyline. Some land is marked for green space.

Licensing of Contractors is controlled by the central government. Every 4 years the contractor/practitioner must take a certification exam. In the future, licensing will be handled by an independent agency. Chongqing University wants help in developing more contacts with US academic institutions, professional agencies and contractor associations. It also wants opportunities for publications in professional journals. Mr. Fu Quiang stated that they wanted very much to work with the United States. "We are old friends." He stated.

Notes by Professor Carl Egan and Miss Deborah J. Krontz



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