McKelvey School of Engineering, partner universities offer collaborative undergraduate education program

Officials from McKelvey School of Engineering and Hong Kong University of Science & Technology signed an agreement for the new program this fall in Hong Kong.

The McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis has teamed with three partner universities in Asia to offer undergraduate students from each school the opportunity to study and to broaden their research experience at WashU.

In the 3+1+X program, undergraduate students from Tsinghua University, Shandong University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) who have completed three years of study would have the opportunity to study at Washington University for their fourth year, then have the option to remain at Washington University to complete a one-year master's degree or to begin doctoral studies. Likewise, Washington University students have the same opportunity to attend one of the three universities in Asia for their fourth year and remain for an optional master's or doctoral degree. The visiting students would earn a Certificate of International Study from the host university in addition to a bachelor's degree from their home institution.

The first student to join a 3+1+X program at the McKelvey School of Engineering is Junlong Huang, a student from Tsinghua University. Huang is studying in the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering this academic year and is being co-advised by Young-Shin Jun, professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering, and Brent Williams, the Raymond R. Tucker Distinguished InCEES Career Development Associate Professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering. Huang's research focuses on the impacts of cast iron pipes in drinking water distribution system of the UV/Persulfate treatment process. Students from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Shandong University are expected to study at WashU beginning in the 2020-21 academic year.

"As McKelvey Engineering grows the breadth and depth of its research, we are working to expand our connections to important engineering schools around the globe," said Aaron Bobick, dean and James M. McKelvey Professor. "The 3+1+X program is an innovative approach to fostering great collaboration with key partner universities."

In addition to the student exchange, the universities plan to host research symposia every one to two years for faculty from each institution, as well as provide visiting scholar opportunities to faculty and doctoral students from each institution. The visiting undergraduate students would have the opportunity to conduct research with faculty from the partner institutions.


From left: 1) Junlong Huang. 2) Dean Bobick signs an agreement with officials from Tsinghua University in China agreed to the 3+1+X program earlier in 2019. 3) Dean Bobick with Professor Tim Cheng from the School of Engineering at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology.

"The symposia and visits by partner faculty and doctoral students will enhance the research collaborations between the two institutions, and while it is not mandatory, the hope is that the 3+1+X undergraduate students could be co-advised by faculty from both WashU and the partner institution, further building on the research topics identified in the symposia," said Teresa Sarai, assistant dean for international relations in the McKelvey School of Engineering.

The McKelvey School of Engineering will team with Tsinghua's internationally prestigious School of Environment, which is among the world's top 20 programs in environmental sciences, specializing in environmental chemistry and microbiology, environmental engineering, and environmental planning and management. Several WashU faculty earned degrees at Tsinghua, including Peng Bai, assistant professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering; Tao Ju, vice dean for research and professor of computer science; and Xuan "Silvia" Zhang, assistant professor of electrical & systems engineering.

Most departments in the McKelvey School of Engineering will partner with HKUST's School of Engineering. The highly-ranked HKUST is one of the fastest-growing universities in the world. Its School of Engineering is the largest of the four schools within HKUST and was ranked number 18 globally in the QS World University Rankings subject 2019 in Engineering and Technology.

The partnership with Shandong University will focus primarily on computer science and engineering students from the Taishan College of Shandong University, an elite and highly selective honors college for students in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and computer science. Taishan College serves as a training ground for top-notch students in these basic disciplines.

"The Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering and the renowned Center for Aerosol Science and Engineering (CASE) have a long-standing relationship with counterparts at Tsinghua University working through the McDonnell Academy Global Energy and Environmental Partnership (MAGEEP)," said Pratim Biswas, assistant vice chancellor, chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering and the Lucy & Stanley Lopata Professor. "This program will enable the brightest undergraduate students to get engaged in cutting-edge research and provide an opportunity to then move onto doctoral programs at either institution, but working with faculty mentors at both universities."


The McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis promotes independent inquiry and education with an emphasis on scientific excellence, innovation and collaboration without boundaries. McKelvey Engineering has top-ranked research and graduate programs across departments, particularly in biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and computing, and has one of the most selective undergraduate programs in the country. With 140 full-time faculty, 1,387 undergraduate students, 1,448 graduate students and 21,000 living alumni, we are working to solve some of society’s greatest challenges; to prepare students to become leaders and innovate throughout their careers; and to be a catalyst of economic development for the St. Louis region and beyond.