March 08, 2005 —
Dongcheng Hu, vice president of Tsinghua University and dean of the Tsinghua
School of Continuing Education, and USC Viterbi Dean C. L. Max Nikias shake hands
after signing the Letter of Intent for Collaboration
In a whirlwind trip to Beijing, C. L. Max Nikias, dean of the USC Viterbi School,
took the first steps toward implementing a strategy to increase the Viterbi School’s
ties with China
On March 1 in Beijing, the dean and Dongcheng Hu, vice president of Tsinghua
University and dean of the Tsinghua School of Continuing Education, signed a “Letter
of Intent for Collaboration” in which the two schools agreed “to collaborate in
continuing education, distance education and mutually explore areas of interest.”
“Tsinghua University is one of the most important universities in the world today
and is known as the MIT of China,” said Nikias. He added that the Viterbi School
receives about 110 applications per year from Tsinghua students wishing to study
at USC. “This agreement promotes USC’s internationalization strategy and builds
on one of the Viterbi’s School’s great strengths, its Distance Education Network.”
USC Viterbi Dean C. L. Max Nikias met with Binglin Gu, president of Tsinghua
University before the signing.
The Viterbi School’s Distance Education Network (DEN) currently offers 26 engineering
masters degree programs over the Internet – more than any other engineering school
– using cutting edge, high-speed interactive Internet technology. DEN students
take the same accredited courses from the same faculty and must past the same
exams as on-campus students.
Beijing’s Tsinghua University, founded in 1911 on the former imperial garden
of the Qing Dynasty, has 13 schools and 53 departments and is focused on science
and engineering. The School of Continuing Education is a key component of Tsinghua
providing multi-level and high quality educational programs including professional
training, distance education, international cooperative training and adult education
in a variety of disciplines and fields.
The signing of the agreement followed a meeting between Nikias and Binglin Gu,
president of Tsinghua, and was facilitated by a gift from Feng Deng, a Silicon
Valley entrepreneur born in China who is an alumnus of both universities.
When he was a 22-year-old senior in 1986 at Tsinghua, Deng read a translation
of The Fire in the Valley about the early digital entrepreneurs and the origins of the personal computer.
“It was all about Silicon Valley, and from then on I wanted to build my own business,”
Silicon Valley entrepreneur Feng Deng, USC Viterbi Dean C. L. Max Nikias, Chengyu
Fu, chairman and CEO of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and
Zhu Yi Ran, CNOOC External Affairs.
Deng worked in China after graduation before coming to USC on a scholarship in
1990. He received his MS in Computer Engineering in 1993 and had completed his
doctoral coursework and passed the PhD screening exam before he was lured away
by an offer from Intel.
In 1997, aided by Silicon Valley venture capital giant, Sequoia Capital, Deng
and a partner, Yan Ke, founded NetScreen Technologies, a Sunnyvale, Calif., firm
specializing in Internet security systems. NetScreen has since been acquired
by Juniper Networks.
“Feng Deng is a powerful role model not only for our students, but for students
in China as well,” said Nikias. “He is benefiting both nations by bringing these
two institutions together.”
While in China, Nikias met with another USC Viterbi alumnus, Chengyu Fu who is
chairman and CEO of the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) Limited,
which exploits China’s offshore petroleum resources. Fu received his MS in Petroleum
Engineering from USC in 1986.
USC Viterbi Dean C. L. Max Nikias at the Great Wall.
“We discussed distance learning opportunities, specifically IT (information technology)
for the oil industry,” said Nikias. “There is interest by both of us to pursue
Finally, Nikias found time for his first visit the Great Wall.
“It is an awe-inspiring sight and a profound reminder of China’s long and hugely
important historical presence in the world. It was also very cold and a reminder
of Southern California’s charms,” he said. “We have a China strategy, one that
is based on our amazing Trojan Family, which can be found all over the world.”