This past year has provided the Georgia Institute of Technology with a number of new partnerships in keeping with the university’s objectives of increased global engagement and preparing its students for “global leadership.”
The announcement in early December of the new Georgia Tech Tianjin University Shezhen Institute , which will be located on a 40-acre greenfield site provide by the city of Shenzhen, China, is its latest high profile global initiative.
The development is in keeping with Georgia Tech’s 25-year strategic plan released in 2010 that calls for the university to “cultivate mutually beneficial partnerships at international, national and local levels.”
Georgia Tech students study or intern in 70 countries, with 54 percent of undergraduates participating in an international work or study experience before they graduate. Georgia Tech faculty members are engaged in research collaborations in more than 100 countries. Georgia Tech also has global centers in Costa Rica, Panama and Singapore. For 25 years, the university has had a campus in Lorraine, France.
In addition the university has been active in China. The institute does not represent its first foray into China. Over the years, the university has had relations with several universities in China and continues to operate a joint biomedical engineering degree with Peking University and Emory University.
As its ties have grown with China, the number of Georgia Tech alumni, parents of students and friends in China have expanded to such an extent that they have sought a means of supporting the relationship on the mainland.
While the government controls external philanthropy and makes it difficult for Chinese residents to support a charitable entity outside of China, the institute has established a foundation in China — the Georgia Tech China Foundation — with the permission of the government of Shenzhen.
According to Yan Pan, the advisory board chair of the foundation and the mother of a Chenli Yang, a 2013 Tech graduate, the support of the Shenzhen government enabled the foundation to be created without having to navigate complex bureaucratic procedures that could impede such an initiative.
Like its U.S. counterparts it will be required to spend the equivalent of at least 5 percent of its corpus for the stated purpose of its mission, which, Ms. Pan defined as: the support of Georgia Tech programs in China, the support of students from China studying at Tech, summer exchange programs and other related programs that create stronger ties between the institute and China.
The foundation’s board is composed of alumni or parents of Tech students and alumni or parents of Tech students and alumni.
Marta Garcia, associate vice president for international development at Tech, told Global Atlanta that in recent years, the university has increased its international development efforts to forge relationships with alumni and their parents in Asia, Europe and Latin America.
This year has seen these efforts bear more fruits with the endowment of a fund by Manuel Vallarino and his wife, Emily — the Latin American Student Emergency Fund — to help students at Tech from any Latin American country.
The Vallarinos first created the fund with a $25,000 gift in 2015. Then this summer it followed up with the $25,000 challenge grant and followed again this year with another $25,000 challenge with a window for matching gifts until December 2017.
Ms. Garcia said that the Vallarino Challenge at first was primarily focused on matching gifts from alumni in Panama to help Panamanian students who encounter financial problems.
“Our goal is to eventually create a $1 million endowment,”Mr Vallarino told Ms. Garcia. “To do this we must all participate in this effort together, and we call on all Latin American and U.S.-born Latinos to contribute one way or another.”
Georgia Tech has a long history of educating Latin Americans who often chose to attend the Atlanta-based institution rather than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston because of their preference for the Southern climate.
Most these days is Tech graduate Juan Carlos Varela, who was elected president of Panama in 2014 and served as Panama’s vice president from 2009-11.
When Mr. Varela heard that Ulises Nunez Garzo did not receive a national college scholarship even though he graduated from high school in 2013 with the highest grade point average in Panama, he decided to personally fund Ulises’s education at Tech where he is scheduled to graduate with a degree in aerospace engineering in May 2017.
Ms. Garcia called the kind of support that the Vallarinos are supporting “phenomenal” and explained that it was based on the personal trials that Mr. Vallarino experienced in the early 1950s when he studied at the Southern Technical Institute, an extension of Tech.
Georgia Tech also received a grant this year from the Korean advanced materials company Kolon Industries Inc. to develop its newest interdisciplinary research center. — the Kolon Center for Lifestyle Innovation.
The company has been supporting Sundresan Jayaraman, who has served as the Kolon Term Professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering since 2010.
The Kolon Center for Lifestyle Innovation is to bring faculty and students together from schools and colleges across the campus to explore the role of advanced materials and manufacturing including “smart fiber” with the purpose of bringing about lifestyle innovation for positive health benefits and outcomes.
Dr. Jayaraman has been at Tech since 2010. He and his research students have made significant contributions in health care information systems and technologies such a wearable biomedical systems.
His group’s research led to the creation of the first “wearable motherboard,” also known as as a “smart shirt,” which has been featured in numerous publications including Life, Time and Newsweek magazines.
Based in Seoul, South Korea, Kolon Industries Inc. was founded in 1957 as the first Korean chemical fiber manufacturing company. In October, Georgia Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson welcomed Woong Yul Lee, Kolon Corp.’s chairman and Park Dong Moon, CEO of Kolon Industries, to the Tech campus for the dedication of the center.
To learn more about Tech’s overseas outreach, contact Marta Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 404-894-5505.
For more information about the Latin American Student Emergency Fund, contact Sara Araujo, managing director of development — Latin America at email@example.com