Friends reunited – Alumni gather at Asian receptions
12 July 2012
President & Rector Sir Keith O’Nions visited China and Hong Kong during the first week of July to meet Imperial alumni, industry leaders, government representatives and university counterparts.
Summing up the week-long trip, Sir Keith said: “It was terrific to meet over 300 alumni during the course of the visit. I was also struck by the appetite on display from outstanding Chinese institutions to work more closely with the College, demonstrating the global reach of Imperial’s reputation.”
The alumni reception at the British Ambassador’s residence brought together old and new alumni, with a noticeably high proportion of recent graduates present. Mechanical Engineering alumnus Professor Song Fu, who graduated in 1983 and is now a Professor in the School of Aerospace Engineering at Tsinghua University, said:
“It’s nice to see so many young alumni. Imperial has a great reputation in China and many young Chinese people love to go to Imperial. It’s good for the future – for Imperial and for China.”
Recent graduate, Lin Zhang (MSc Finance 2011) said: “I want to keep in touch with the College and my classmates, but I also want to get to know the older alumni. Their generation is quite different from mine and I can learn from them. In today’s society you might not often get the opportunity to meet people who are willing to share their experiences with you, but the older alumni from the College are happy to do so.”
During his time in Beijing Sir Keith signed a letter of intent on behalf of Imperial with Tsinghua University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in China. Signing for Tsinghua was President Chen Jining who gained a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Imperial in 1992 and continued his research activities in the Department until 1998. The letter signals the commitment of both institutions to build a platform for collaboration within the areas of engineering and technology transfer, further strengthening the College’s existing links with Tsinghua. Sir Keith’s visit included a tour of Tsinghua Science Park, which houses over 400 university spin-out companies on a dedicated site of more than 700,000 sq ft.
Whilst in Beijing the Rector also met with representatives from industry and government, and took part in a TV interview with China Education TV.
The alumni event in Shanghai attracted more than a hundred Imperial graduates to hear the latest updates on activities in London, and share stories of their time at the College. It was also a platform for professional networking with one alumnus admitting that she hoped to use the opportunity to recruit Imperial-educated staff to her growing business.
George Wan, who graduated in Mechanical Engineering in 1983, said: “The College has undergone tremendous change since my time there, both in the number of students, and in the size and extent of research projects going on. It’s great to see what they have achieved since I left.”
Milancia Kalley-Barazany, who graduated from the Business School in 2006, said: “I spend a lot of time in China on business, and it’s wonderful to be able to meet up with my fellow alumni out here. I have very fond memories of studying at Imperial – I made some fantastic friends who I’m still in contact with. You cannot find the level of teaching at Imperial in many other places – either in the UK or elsewhere. It’s given me a very practical experience, not just a theoretical education, which is rare to find.”
Whilst in Shanghai, the delegation also met representatives from Shanghai University and toured its campus.
Marking the 30th anniversary of the Imperial College Alumni Association of Hong Kong (ICAAHK) was the focus for the last stop of Sir Keith’s tour. The College’s relationship with Hong Kong has remained strong over many years and there is a commitment to continue building links, as Sir Keith noted during visits to Hong Kong University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.
The first student from Hong Kong joined the College in 1922. Today some 500 students at the College originate from Hong Kong, and the ICAAHK has built one of the strongest communities of Imperial alumni anywhere in the world. On Friday 6 July the Association celebrated its 30th anniversary at a dinner at the Hong Kong Bankers Club attended by around 200 alumni.
Paying tribute to Hong Kong alumni, Sir Keith said: “Your achievements have been spectacular. You have made your mark here and across the world through wide-ranging contributions to public service, business, industry, construction, transport, healthcare, research, education and in numerous other fields.”
Applauding and expressing appreciation to the founders of ICAAHK Sir Keith added, “You repeatedly show your care for Imperial today through your generous support as alumni. Looking to the future, I know that we will not be able to achieve our mission to remain one of the outstanding universities in the world without the support of our alumni and friends, and I hope you will be united with us in that goal.”
Dr Leonard Chow, Chairman of ICAAHK (pictured above left), said: “Through the Association we stay connected with the mother university, meet friends , learn from each other and, most importantly, help and donate to the ICAAHK endowment fund.” The fund, established in 2007, awards three scholarships annually to support talented students who are permanent residents in Hong Kong to study at the College.
See a slideshow of highlights from the recent trip here.