Next generation of engineers meets in China to solve global challenges

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The next generation of engineers from the UK and China have met in Beijing to develop new technical and creative skills that will help them solve global challenges.

The students have been taking part in the Future Engineers’ Leadership and Innovation Academy, which was developed through the UK-China University Consortium on Engineering Education and Research, and aims to build UK-China teams to support both countries’ manufacturing ambitions.

The Consortium was established over the past six months with seed funding from the UK Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and led by the British Council. Initially, the Consortium is focusing on innovative technologies in intelligent manufacturing and sustainable energy that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions as both countries transition to a low carbon economy.

The Consortium is the first of its kind to partner leading UK universities with the top Chinese engineering research institutions. It is led by Queen’s University Belfast and Southeast University (Nanjing) and is made up of six UK universities, including the University of Nottingham and nine Chinese universities.

Over a period of two weeks, 26 PhD students from across the Consortium, including two from the University of Nottingham, have been enhancing their creative, technical, transnational communication, and leadership skills. The Academy is hosted by the Beijing Institute of Technology ( and delivered by staff from Queen’s University Belfast and BIT.
Working together in transnational teams, the students have applied their innovation and leadership skills to topics such as disaster management using unmanned aerial vehicles. This is the first step in building enhanced transnational PhD educational opportunities between the UK and China in engineering.

Southeast University and Queen’s University Belfast also intend to sign a Joint Declaration on establishing a UK-China University Consortium on Engineering Education and Research at the UK-China High Level People-to-People Dialogue, which will take place in London in December.

Professor Stan Scott, Dean for Internationalisation, Queen’s University Belfast and Director of the Future Engineers’ Leadership and Innovation Academy (FELIA) Programme, commented: “I’m delighted that after six months of planning FELIA has been successfully delivered in Beijing. During the two week programme the twenty-six research students from 13 universities across China and the UK have developed skills that have enabled them to work effectively in transnational teams. The networks they have tapped into will prove invaluable in their research careers and bodes well for productive UK-China collaboration.”

Professor Andrew Long, the University of Nottingham’s Pro Vice Chancellor for the Faculty of Engineering said, “The University of Nottingham is proud to play its part in the Future Engineers’ Leadership and Innovation Academy (FELIA) Programme. I am delighted that two of our students participated in this key initiative, which highlights the importance of education in engineering between the UK and China. As one of six Consortium partners, the University is proud to play its role in strengthening links , as well as building expertise and nurturing our relationships with leading Chinese universities.”

Jazreel Goh, Director Education China at the British Council, said: “The UK and China have a long history of education collaboration. Indeed, with more than 275 joint programmes and institutes, the UK and China are world-leading partners in transnational education. But if we want to take forward our shared ambitions of increasing international collaboration, accelerating the growth of world-class universities, and boosting our engineering capacity, we need to look beyond institution-to-institution partnerships. With the establishment of the UK-China University Consortium on Engineering Education and Research we have taken a significant step towards making those ambitions a reality and initiating a new era in UK-China education collaboration.”