Auto Parts Maker Funds New U Of I Study Program In China

September 19, 2017
Officials with the University of Illinois and Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic sign a memorandum of understanding establishing the Wanxiang Fellows Program.

In Hangzhou, China, Gov. Bruce Rauner and others applaud as officials with the University of Illinois and Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic sign a memorandum of understanding establishing the Wanxiang Fellows Program.

Illinois Governor's Office

Last week on his trip to Asia, Governor Bruce Rauner visited the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou and toured the facilities of Wanxiang Group Corporation, China’s largest auto parts maker. It’s an experience that some University of Illinois students could have next summer, under a new study-abroad program.

The program announced Sunday during the governor’s trip is called the Wanxiang Fellows Program.  

U of I Interim Director for International Engagement Pradeep Khanna says Wanxiang is paying all expenses for the program to be held over the next two summers.

“Under this program,” said Khanna, “students from any of the campuses in the University of Illinois system will be eligible to study in China over summer, to learn about Chinese culture, as well as work with Wanxiang Company on development of sustainable green energy technologies.”

Wanxiang’s U-S operations are headquartered in Elgin, Illinois, and it manufactures solar panels at a facility in Rockford. The company has conducted similar study programs with other universities in Illinois, including Northwestern University and the University of Chicago.

Khanna says it was just fortunate timing that the agreement came together during the governor’s trip.

“The governor’s visit was taking place,” said Khanna. “The opportunity came up. And the University decided to go ahead and accept the opportunity, or take advantage of it.”

The Wanxiang Fellows Program was formally established through a memorandum of understanding signed by officials with the U of I and Hangzhou Wanxiang Polytechnic, a two-campus voacational and technology college that Wanxiang Group helped establish.

“This (memorandum) will provide a critical platform for academic exchange between our two institutions as well as providing a world class opportunity for our students,” said U of I Vice-president of Economic Development Ed Seidel, according to a news release from the governor’s office.

Khanna said the university would be meeting with Wanxiang representatives over the next few weeks to work on details of the program. He believed the Wanxiang Fellows Program will be most attractive to engineering students at the U of I's Urbana and Chicago campuses.

Story source: WILL