Logo: University of Southern California

i-Podiumâ„¢ Education Cooperation Program Will Link Viterbi School and Peking University

Effort will further strengthen ties between USC and PKU

May 27, 2009 —

In a May 23 ceremony in Beijing, Deans Yannis C. Yortsos and Shiyi Chen signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a unique link between their two schools.

2 Deans
Deans Shiyi Chen, left and Yannis C. Yortsos
New "i-Podium™" facilities to be established on the campuses of the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering and the Peking University College of Engineering will enable students in Beijing and Los Angeles to take courses together, engage in discussions and participate in team projects in complete synchronization over the information infrastructure.

The Viterbi School’s Professor Stephen Lu, who holds the David

Deans sign the agreement
Packard Chair in Manufacturing Engineering and who initiated the negotiations establishing the new program, said i-Podium™  “is an education bridge and a knowledge highway, connecting USC in Los Angeles and PKU in Beijing across the Pacific."

“It can be seen,” he continued, “as a part of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) which USC initiated.

The “I” in i-Podium™, Lu said, “stands for international, innovative, interactive, immersive, integrated, interchange, infusion, and the combination of all the above.“

The signing ceremony took place in the Presidential Conference Room on the PKU campus in Beijing, China.

In addition to Yortsos and Chen, participants included (from the PKU side) Dr. Jianhua Lin,
Peking 2
From left: PKU Prof. Jian Cai, Associate Dean Daining Fang, Dean Shiyi Chen, Provost Jianhua Lin, USC Viterbi School Dean Yannis C. Yortsos, Prof. Stephen Lu, Senior Associate Dean Raghu Raghavendra, Prof. Iraj Ershaghi, Research Prof. Fred Aminzadeh, Executive Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations Angus McColl.
Provost and Senior Vice President; Dr. Daining Fang, Associate Dean of Engineering; and Dr. James Jian Cai, Deputy Dean of the Peking University Innovation Education and Research (PIER) Institute.

Beside Yortsos and Lu, others in the USC delegation included Dr. Raghu Raghavendra, Senior Associate Dean of Engineering; Angus McColl, Executive Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations; and Christopher Leung of the USC China office.

Provost Lin thanked Lu for his long-term voluntary work to help PKU in education reforms and develop this i-Podium™ idea that creates a collaboration bridge and an educational highway between the two leading universities in China and USA as a new model for the 21st century global higher-education. 

“In the rapidly globalizing trend of high-education education, the Sino-American cooperation was of great importance,” Lin said, promising that PKU will strongly support this program to its fruition.

In his remarks, Dean Yortsos said universities in the U.S. must now pay more attentions to engineering education and its synergy between social sciences due to the current economic downturn. “This actually creates a favorable opportunity for the Viterbi School to work with College of Engineering at PKU, which traditionally has strong programs in humanity and social sciences, to develop new models and contents for global engineering education.”

Yortsos also noted that globalization necessitates global cooperation among universities, especially in the field of education innovation.

His counterpart Dean Chen referred to the long and rich history of the PKU, and talked about the need and hope that China becomes a global innovation hub. This
Peking 1
Discussions and deliberations on the shape of the new cooperation.
goal, he said, will require new experiments on how to best educate the most creative minds regardless of institutional, geographical and temporal boundaries.

“Since USC has a very successful track record in Internet based online learning and rich experiences in training creative engineers, he said, “I believe that the cooperation between the two engineering colleges is a win-win partnership.”

Attendees from both universities discussed strategic issues related to the i-Podium™ program concepts and implementation.

In conclusion, Chen emphasized that the i-Podium™ program was more than a simple education exchange. “It can be a global network in which engineer leaders in both nations can collaborative freely and thus promoted Sino-American higher-education cooperation. It is a small step for the PKU-USC joint institute; but a big step for the development of the 21st century global education model.”

The i-Podium agreement is the third recent international agreement signed by the Viterbi School, following previous ones with the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and Technion Israel Insitute of Technology