Yuan Gao, part of the University of Michigan- Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (UM-SJTU JI) Class of 2016, majoring in ECE, going to the graduate program at UCLA
It is said that “the life journey is long but critical at only a few steps, especially when one is young.” Four years ago, I chose JI among many other paths. Looking back, I have no regret. My four-year efforts pay up and I have lived up to my precious youth.
A university offers students not only knowledge and skills, but also the ability to shape one’s character. The four years at JI helped me develop professional integrity and social responsibility, as well as international perspective and innovative capabilities, which will impact the rest of my life and I am proud of.

China meets the West: Experiencing JI’s innovative culture through its unique curriculum

设计展上为参观嘉宾介绍毕设项目_副本Yuan Gao (third right) explaining his capstone design project

JI is vibrant and full of creative students who are patriotic as well as independent. The rich choices of courses in computer engineering and mechanical engineering help me adapt to the needs of interdisciplinary mechatronics. In my opinion, the most characteristics JI courses are “ Introduction to Engineering” and “Capstone Design.” For example, the capstone design is completely different from the traditional single-student graduation projects. A project must be interdisciplinary, completed by a team of about five students. Most projects are sponsored by the industry. That means a company suggests an engineering problem, funds the project and mentors the students along with JI professors. In a short time within a semester, students should cooperate with each other under the dual guidance of the JI instructors and the corporate advisers, complete the proposed requirements and finally present their results to the companies and the public. The varied and rich topics of the projects include the hottest areas of computer network and medical robots. While a team tries to solve engineering problems, every student has the opportunity to develop relevant capabilities.

036_副本At Intel in fall 2015, Yuan Gao (second left, back row) with project team mates, teachers, and mentors

JI’s mission is to train excellent engineers who possess not only specialized knowledge but also teamwork and communication skills. JI offers many courses requiring teamwork, heavy course work andmultiple exams. The mandatory oral presentations and defenses hone students’ communication and cooperation skills. JI’s all-English teaching model improves my English dramatically. I was a English mute when entering JI but now I can talk fluently with professors in English, and I teach in English as a teaching assistant.

In addition, JI emphasizes peer education and self-education. At JI, I served as a TA for multiple courses, such as “mathematical analysis,” “introduction to logic design,” “introduction to computing,” “probability statistics and data mining.” Each week I spent a lot of time to prepare the recitations, answer questions, grade homework and papers, communicate with teachers regularly about students’ feedback. As a TA, I get the opportunity to review and consolidate my knowledge while helping the students.

Exchange and internship broaden my global vision and capabilities

SJTU always attaches great importance to practical training, encouraging students to “travel far in order to know China” and to apply what they learn. JI also pushes students to “go out” by offering domestic and foreign projects, including dual degree program, short-term exchange and study abroad program. I addition to learning the professional knowledge at JI, I chose exchange and internship to further strengthen my background.

高源与其密院春季学期去香港交流的同学合影_副本Yuan Gao (first left) exchanging at University of Hong Kong

JI’s unique three-semester system allows each student a valuable free spring semester. Students can choose to take courses, study abroad, or do an internship. During the winter and summer breaks of my freshman year, I participated in various volunteer activities and gained insight into people’s livelihood and social development. In the summer of my sophomore year, I interned at a local company and learned practical skills in database and the Java language. This internship taught me how to apply my learned knowledge to production and made me more hungry for knowledge in the classrooms. During the spring semester of my junior year, I chose to exchange at the Department of Computer Engineering in the University of Hong Kong. I took four computer courses, including databases, Java, Software Engineering. The exchange not only expanded my expertise and broadened my international perspective, but also let me get a taste of the rich southern Chinese culture and make many friends from different countries. During my senior year, I got an internship at Intel (Intel) Asia-Pacific Institute. While working on their large data bases, I was exposed to the most cutting-edge computer science research projects.

231_副本Yuan Gao (left) interning at Intel with classmate Heng Zhang

I thank my teachers, classmates and colleagues for guidance and helping me overcome numerous difficulties in the past fours years. What I have learned most from these practical experiences is not the concepts or algorithms, but the calm attitude when facing new things and the ability to learn quickly and apply it to my work. All this can not be learned in the classrooms.

Gratitude and Responsibility: To be thankful, aspiring and charitable

The most valuable thing I gained from the four years at SJTU is character building and being valuable to the society. A former SJTU president said that character building should come before academics and careers. Both SJTU and JI emphasize character and make it the top criterion for candidates of scholarships, such as Yu Liming Scholarship, which I am honored to have been awarded twice. Above the financial reward, I benefited greatly from the interaction with Mr. and Mrs. Yu.

DSC_0153_副本Yuan Gao (right) with Mr. Yu Liming at the scholarship award ceremony

What impressed me most was Mr. Yu’s entrepreneurial spirit. His company upholds the mission of “Building China to become number one in the world with character,” which is consistent with SJTU’s education ideal. Mr. Yu sets himself as a model of “Gratitude and Responsibility,”the SJTU motto, for SJTU students. Under their influence, I have been actively involved in volunteering in various community activities, such as after-school tutoring and volunteering for Shanghai international marathon. Of course I know I still have a long way to go compared with the Yu’s and SJTU’s expectations. I will always remember to carry out SJTU’s motto unswervingly.

俞黎明奖学金获得者与俞先生合影_副本Yuan Gao (secong right, front) with other recipients of the Yu Liming Scholarship

 Time flies. The first lesson that “When you select SJTU you choose responsibility” given by Ma Dexiu, former Chair of SJTU Council, is still fresh in our memory and now I’m about to go to UCLA to continue graduate studies. I am lucky to be able to attend this top graduate school in my prime youth. It was my honor to have chosen JI. Graduation is not the end of an endeavor; parting is to prepare for a better next meeting. I will not forget my dream and will go on to be strong and proud.