The 2021 University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute (UM-SJTU JI, JI hereafter) Opening Ceremony was held at Long Bin Building on the evening of September 11.

In his opening remarks, Dean Peisen Huang extended warm welcome and congratulations to all the new students. Speaking of the current global situation, he quoted a sentence from “A Tale of Two Cities” by the English novelist Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, …, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” While seeing revolutionary improvements in people’s lives because of rapid advances in technology and economic development, the world also faces increasingly complex challenges, including COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, that threaten the very existence of mankind. Solving these problems require global cooperation of experts in a vast number of different disciplines. Engineers, as the world’s problem solvers, surely have a critical role to play, said the dean.

Last month, SJTU inaugurated the Global Institute of Future Technology under a major initiative of the Ministry of Education with JI being the driving force behind it. Its goal is to conduct disruptive and innovative research and cultivate future technology leaders in the areas of future energy and future health to address global problems in the environment and human health. While quoting the Chinese proverb of ““A thousand-mile journey begins with the first step”, Peisen Huang advised the new students to find their true interest, learn through experience, and develop their global perspective. “The catchphrase for this year’s new class of students is “Power the Future,” as is written on your T-shirt. I hope the knowledge and skills you gain and friends you make here at JI in the coming years will help power your future and the future of all of us,” he said.

JI Assistant Professor Hongyi Xin,  alumnus of 2011, was invited to deliver a speech titled “Stay Thirsty, My Friend – Spend College Life Wisely”. He used English physicist Issac Newton, American entrepreneur Elon Musk and himself as examples and shared their stories of college life and achievements upon graduation. He advised the new students to live their life to the fullest, while quoting a famous line by American writer Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did.”

Yan Lu, president of JI undergraduate student union shared his insight on the life of JI. He said the new students can expect to have infinite possibilities and they should find their own possibilities and help provide possibilities for others. “Now, say goodbye to the brief summer vacation and be prepared to embrace a new chapter of life with passion, persistence, and braveness.”

Freshman representative Zi’an Mao raised three questions he has been thinking over the past two weeks: Am I familiar enough with SJTU and JI? Who will I meet at JI? What kind of life path should I pursue in JI? Although the answers to these questions are not clear yet, the new students should take on both social responsibilities and academic development and follow world-class faculty to be world-class talents in different fields. A bright, wonderful, and magnificent new life is awaiting, he said.

New doctoral student Weihan Fan made a speech on behalf of graduate students. He shared his understanding on the graduate study and suggested the new students should first of all find their passion to carry out their study and research. Collaboration is equally important. “As future researchers, remember that no one is and no one should ever be alone during their pursuit of truth. Whenever you are stuck, go for your advisor, your fellow students and professors and students from other labs from time to time.”

After the opening ceremony, new students were entertained with a welcome party, with joint performances of students, faculty and staff members.