150 alumni and friends joined academic leaders in central Shanghai this week.
At Imperial, innovation just bursts out of every seam
– Professor Maggie Dallman
Members of one of the College’s youngest and most active alumni groups met with President Alice Gast, Associate Provost Professor Maggie Dallman, President’s Envoy Professor Jeff Magee and Director of the Data Science Institute Professor Yike Guo.
The group packed out the hall of No. 1 Waitanyuan, the former garden complex for the city’s British consulate. Imperial has more than 7,000 alumni in China - the largest group outside the UK - and 600 in Shanghai alone.
Scores joined social media groups for the occasion, encouraged by Professor Guo who announced “many of you know me as ‘the teapot’ – my nickname on WeChat.” He introduced President Gast, “whose many ties to China range from the photos of Shanghai on her office wall to an honorary professorship at my alma mater Tsinghua University”.
Professor Gast updated the group on several research developments at the College, where Imperial keeps asking “what if..?” questions, like “what if the biology of our gut provides the key to tackling malnutrition?”
Recent breakthroughs and research developments in diet and wellbeing, agriculture, MASERs, antimicrobial resistance and computer-aided disaster response fascinated the audience, as much as Imperial’s fast-progressing work in White City, where the Invention Rooms is helping change the way universities collaborate with local communities.
Professor Gast urged the group to “stay in touch with one another – it makes all the difference in your life as an Imperial alum.”
“It is so amazing to see this network. We’re so proud of you and excited for you. You’re making Imperial stronger every day,” she added.
Associate Provost Professor Maggie Dallman presented on the astounding array of innovation and enterprise activity at Imperial, including the recently opened Enterprise Lab: “At Imperial, innovation just bursts out of every seam.”
Initiatives like WE Innovate, a competition and mentoring scheme for women entrepreneurs, are changing the game, she said. “So watch out boys, we’re coming for you!”
Professional and social networking
The event was organised by the Imperial College Alumni Association of East China – one of Imperial’s busiest and most ambitious alumni groups.
Founded in 2007 at a special event with the then-Deputy Rector Sir Leszek Borysiewicz (who went on to serve as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge), ICAAEC is well known for its annual Chinese New Year Gala, diverse series of guest speakers, and lively social occasions.
Jeff Yan (MSc Electrical and Electronic Engineering 2011) heads the group. Speaking on Monday in Shanghai, he explained how ICAAEC’s new ‘Link Imperial’ initiative is connecting alumni and current students to fellow Imperial graduates in their industries, which has already set-up 14 groups.
“This year’s goal is more professionalism, networking and career opportunities – on top of the great social events that we already have.” The group has 600 registered alumni in the region, but is in touch with 3,000 via Weibo and WeChat; “that’s the power of our networks,” Jeff said.
Jeff said “I am very proud to be an alum of Imperial – the UK’s most international university… with unparalleled opportunities for connections, networks and friendships.”
Jeff Yan and senior group member Johnny Kwan (Chemical Engineering 1978, MSc Social and Environmental Studies 1979) presented President Gast with a stunning print of a tree made up of 200 alumni fingerprints.
Academic, social and career success
Jiacheng Wang (MRes Chemistry 2015) said he was drawn to Imperial by its “world-class reputation, the chance to study abroad when globalised knowledge matters, and to gain research skills.”
Jiacheng, who was visiting family in Shanghai for the upcoming Chinese New Year, is now undertaking a PhD in graphene at the University of Manchester.
Our Imperial is a lifelong connection – let’s stay connected
– Jeff Yan
MSc Electrical and Electronic Engineering 2011
“I really miss London so much,” he said. “Especially Hyde Park and making friends from all over the world, including a very good friend from Africa. Imperial stretched me to be what I want and showed me how to realise my dreams… most Chinese people who went to Imperial are very proud of the place.”
ICAEEC volunteer Zhiwei Lu (MSc Risk Management 2016) agreed: “It’s fantastic to be in London, studying at a world-class university.” Both he and his wife, who met during undergraduate studies in the UK, were “delighted to both win places on masters programmes at Imperial.”
Phoebe Li (MSc Environmental Policy 2015) continues to apply what she learned at Imperial in her work for CleanPath China – and through her organisation’s collaboration with Climate KIC.
She says her international outlook “helps integrate technology from abroad into more effective wastewater treatment in China.”
Chao Yu (Electrical and Electronic Engineering 2007) spoke about how happy he was to have studied at Imperial. He went on to further study at New York’s Columbia University before working on Wall Street and pursuing a career in finance in Shanghai.
Yande Shi (Mathematics 2016, MSc 2017) loved catching up with fellow mathematician Kaixi Zhang (MSc Mathematics 2017), talking about their respective preferences for pure maths and statistics.
Yande already misses London “the most convenient and exciting city in England,” where he lived in walking distance of Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace, as well as enjoying socialising near London Bridge.
Among the very many distinguished alumni in China are Mayor of Beijing Chen Jining (PhD Civil Engineering 1993) and Tieniu Tan (MSc Electronic Engineering 1986, PhD 1989), Vice Minister, Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government, Hong Kong.
Professor Ning-Yi Zhou (PhD Biochemistry 1996) said that Chen Jining’s achievements have “brought a lot of glory to Imperial in China – many people now want their children to follow in his footsteps and study at Imperial.”
Professor Zhou spoke about how, when the British Council sponsored him to study at Imperial in the early 1990s, there were very few fellow Chinese students in London. Today he is excited to see so many thriving at the College.
Jeff Yan concluded the evening, telling the group that “Our Imperial is a lifelong connection – let’s stay connected.”
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