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USC and Tsinghua University Engineering Faculty Gather

The site of annual joint faculty forum alternates between China and California. This year's centered on smart and green IT

March 30, 2010 —

Faculty from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and China’s leading technical institution gathered at the USC campus April 1-3, 2010 for their fourth annual workshop.

The workshop series brought together experts from Viterbi and Tsinghua University's School of Information Science and Technology (SIST) for the three-day meeting.

The collaboration was made possible by Feng Deng (MSEE ’93), an alumnus of both Tsinghua and the Viterbi School. Through Deng’s help the workshop series, in which faculty from the two schools alternately gather in China and California, was launched four years ago and continues to date.

L-R: SIST Vice Dean Zhisheng Niu, Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos, SIST Executive Vice Dean Jun Li and Viterbi Senior Associate Dean Cauligi Raghavendra.
This year’s agenda focus was “Green and Smart for a Sustainable Future,” with special attention on improving alternative energy use and making information technology more energy-efficient.

Tsinghua SIST Executive Vice Dean Jun Li led a delegation of 16 faculty members from four Tsinghua departments to USC for the three-day workshop; most hailed from SIST.

Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos and two dozen Viterbi faculty welcomed them.

“We’re excited to continue our fruitful partnership in the fourth year,” said Yortsos. “We look forward to a great symposium on smart and green technologies.”

Plenary talks were given by Viterbi electrical engineering professor Dan Dapkus and Tsinghua professors Zanji Wang and Xiaohong Guan, who are international experts on low-carbon energy and intelligent, networked systems, respectively.

Ensuing faculty discussions took place over four tracks that included Green Data Centers, Building Efficiencies, Alternative Energy, Smart Grid, Nanomaterials, Green Computing and Networks.

Tsinghua 3
Viterbi alumnus and donor Feng Deng.

The Viterbi School and Tsinghua enjoy a strong research collaboration, which over four short years has laid the groundwork for a Smart and Green Information Technology joint institute, several interdisciplinary faculty research partnerships and a vibrant student exchange.

Several Viterbi and Tsinghua students are selected each summer to visit and study at the partnering campus for five to eight weeks, says Viterbi Senior Associate Dean Cauligi Raghavendra.

“That exchange has paved the way to bring a number of undergraduates from Tsinghua — one of the top universities in all of Asia — to Viterbi School graduate programs,” says Raghavendra. Raghavendra worked closely with Zhisheng Niu, SIST’s Vice Dean of School of Information Science and Technology to organize this year’s workshop.

The Viterbi School and Tsinghua University alternate as host each year. For the third annual meeting in 2009, Yortsos led to Beijing a large Viterbi delegation that included Raghavendra, professors Iraj Ershaghi and S. Joe Qin and more than a dozen other faculty and staff.

Last year’s workshop focus was also green and smart energy. At the meeting  Yortsos, Tsinghua University Vice President Xu Chen and SIST Dean Jiaguang Sun signed a memorandum of understanding forming the ongoing joint energy research center on the Green and Smart energy topic. Yortsos was also appointed to Tsinghua’s SIST’s advisory board that year.

Deng, the workshop series sponsor, founded Netscreen Technologies in Silicon Valley and is a recipient of the 2002 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Northern California. He later returned to China to co-found Northern Light Venture Capital, one of China's top venture capital companies.

Nearly three dozen faculty from the Viterbi School and Tsinghua's School of Information Science & Technology gathered for the schools' 4th annual green energy forum.

The opening session Thursday, April 1, 2010, included welcoming remarks by the following:

• Yannis Yortsos, USC, Dean of Viterbi School of Engineering
• Elizabeth Garrett, USC, Vice President for Academic Planning and Budget
• Adam Powell, USC Vice Provost for Globalization
• Xu Chen, Tsinghua University Vice President
• Jun Li, Executive Vice Dean of School of Information Science and Technology (SIST)