Getting down to business with engineering experts

UQ students Daniel Hutchison and Daniel Parnell spent four weeks in Tianjin as part of the Confucius Institute’s 2017 UQ Research, Study and Experience Tour to China. They reflect on their time abroad, and their exposure to a new culture and language.

China is a country rich with culture, people, food and spectacular scenery. It’s a land of ever-growing opportunities and prosperity that holds it steadfast on the global technological stage. The University of Queensland’s strong alliance with Tianjin University has facilitated the development and running of an annual Study and Research Tour Program for UQ students. Conducted over the winter holidays annually since 2010, the tour provides students with a chance to glimpse into China’s rich history and gain invaluable practical experience within their respective disciplines.

The 2017 Study and Research tour marked the inauguration of an official business project, in addition to the engineering discipline programs. 2017 saw 15 students – both undergraduate and post-graduate – majoring in international business, civil engineering and chemical engineering embark on the four-week adventure. Tianjin University’s engineering faculty is among the world’s best and with the University’s proximity to Beijing, the Australian Embassy and major international businesses, business students were provided with excellent opportunities to network and learn from expats and the Australian Government.

Tianjin, one of the world’s largest ports, is roughly a two-hour drive from Beijing. The people are friendly and welcoming to foreigners like us, and the streets always bustling. Living here was exciting – it’s fast-paced and there’s always something to do or see. We loved the local markets as there are so many varieties of tasty local foods to try and experience. Highlights included trying local beverages such as coffee, tea, juices and bubble teas. Dinners could include anything from hotpots, spinning table banquets (Xi Char), mixed-vegetable plates, dumplings, buns or lots of stir-fries – you’ll never go hungry in China!

Our mornings were spent learning Chinese and enthused by its nuances, followed by a short class on Chinese culture. We learnt about the different dynasties, education, and traditional roles throughout Chinese history. In the afternoons we would split up to visit the new campus and work on our specific study areas. Our engineers immersed themselves in several hands-on research projects and practical site visits. Our business students visited the Australian Chamber of Commerce, Australian businesses, government organisations and met Australian expatriates in Beijing.

Engineering students seeking practical experience in a variety of different research sectors were strongly encouraged to research and partake in projects offered by Tianjin University. For several civil engineering students, the experience was defined by a placement in the faculty’s Motion Structures Laboratory, during which they were exposed to the design process used to develop and produce tangible foldable structures using the geometry of origami structures. Chemical engineering students gained experience working as research assistants in advanced laboratory experiments for an ongoing  project. All engineering students had the chance to visit project sites in and around Tianjin.

Weekends provided a terrific chance to relax and explore Tianjin. A scheduled city tour allowed students to see the best that Tianjin has to offer, with banquet lunches, dinners and a scenic river cruise to cap-off the day. The program also included a scheduled weekend tour to Beijing, with highlights including a visit to the Beijing Olympic Park, The Forbidden City and The Temple of Heaven. We also visited The Great Wall and had  an opportunity to spend a weekend wherever we liked. Students travelledto Xian, Shanghai, Beijing and Harbin. Some business students used the time to tour the manufacturing facilities of Gold Coast company FiiK Skateboards.

At the end of the tour, students can be tested for a world-recognised HSK Chinese Proficiency Certificate, an opportunity provided by the Confucius Institute in conjunction with the Chinese Faculty of Tianjin University.

For more information on the UQ Research, Study and Experience Tour, contact the Confucius Institute.

Last updated:
9 August 2017