Southwest Jiaotong University (SWJTU) was founded in 1896 and is one of China’s oldest higher education institutions. Known as the cradle of China’s railway engineers and “the Cornell of the East”, SWJTU is the birthplace of China’s modern education in transportation, mining & metallurgy and civil engineering. Through its history, the university has adopted different names such as “Imperial Chinese Railway College at Shanhaiguan by Beiyang Railway Bureau”, “Tangshan Jiaotong University” and “Tangshan Institute of Railway”.
Since its establishment over 100 years ago, SWJTU has weathered storms amongst China’s warring past. It has undergone 18 relocations and despite the difficulties has sustained its belief in educating the young for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. It upholds the mission of focused education in culture and transport, spreads the spirit of educating talents to breathe new life into the Chinese nation and of unremitting self-improvement, and maintains the tradition of academic excellence and meticulous planning and research. Thus far, the number of graduates from the university has reached nearly 300,000.
The alumni include 57 academicians recognized by national governments, top research institutions and academies from both home and abroad. Among them, three are winners of China’s “Two Bombs and One Satellite Meritorious Award” and nine are engineering design pioneers. The alumni also include top researchers in the fields of academia and engineering, renowned public figures, government officials, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and numerous experts, professors and scholars who enjoy acclaim both in China and overseas. These people contribute a great deal to the nation’s rejuvenation and prosperity and benefit China’s development in railway and transportation undertakings.
The late leader of China, Deng Xiaoping, once applauded the university’s academic achievements by saying that SWJTU was the birthplace for many talents such as Yang Xingfo, Zhu Kezhen and Mao Yisheng. Yang Xingfo was one of China’s famous revolutionaries who sacrificed his life for the nation; Lu Xun, China’s greatest modern writer, mourned his death by composing a poem specially dedicated to him. Zhu Kezhen was the founder of phenology and Mao Yisheng was an expert in bridge building who designed the Qiantang River Bridge, the first of its kind in modern China.
Today’s SWJTU is situated in Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan province. The city is dubbed as the land of abundance, the homeland of the giant panda and the place of fortune and success. The university has a total area of approximately 333 hectares and has three campuses. They are the Jiuli campus, the Xipu campus and the Emei campus which is located in the Emei Mountain Scenic Area, a famous tourist destination included in the World Heritage List by UNESCO. SWJTU is a premier engineering university and is on the list of China’s first batch of 211 Project universities. It is also a university in the “985 Project Innovation Platform on Rail Transit & Transportation Engineering”. The university focuses on a balanced development of multidisciplinary subjects of engineering, science, business management, finance, arts and law. It is one of China’s top universities with a government ratified Graduate School under the direct administration of the Ministry of Education. The university leads the project to set up the “Rail Transit Safety Collaborative Innovation Center”, which is listed in the national “University Innovation Capability Enhancement Plan”, also known as the “2011 Plan”. The other titles granted by the Ministry of Education include being a member of the first batch of universities to pilot the “Excellent Engineer Education and Training Program” and the “Comprehensive Reform on Professional Degree Graduate Education”.
SWJTU boasts a well-developed student training system granting bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees. It consists of 19 schools with 75 key undergraduate majors, among which 12 are National-level Specialty Majors. The university confers PhD degree to 15 first-level disciplines and master’s degree to 43 first-level disciplines, and it also hosts ten centers for post-doctoral study. The university is home to 12 national-level key disciplines including Locomotives and Vehicle Engineering and has 11 national-level specialty majors and four majors listed in the pilot national comprehensive reform on major construction. The first-level discipline of Traffic Engineering tops the national list among all the universities and other leading majors are Geomatics Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Management Science & Engineering. Among a teaching faculty of 2500, there are four academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, eight academicians of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, seven experts on the One Thousand Talents Scheme, three chief scientists on the National Basic Research Program (also called 973 Program), 13 specially-appointed professors and chair professors of the Cheung Kong Scholars Program of China, one Achievement Award winner of Cheung Kong Scholars Program and 16 winners of National Outstanding Youth Foundation. The university has six innovation research teams at national level recognized by the Ministry of Education. In addition, over 40 academicians from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering work as part-time professors at the university’s invitation. The university has granted honorary professorship to Nobel laureates in economics, Robert A. Mundell and Reinhard Selten, and Nobel Prize winner in physics Douglas Osheroff. Its alumni who graduated after China resumed college entrance exams in 1976 have taken most seats in the field of rail transportation of both the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering.
SWJTU was founded out of the need to construct China’s railway system and prospers in the process of serving the railway development. It has made great contributions to China’s landmark railway achievements, including the Beijing-Zhangjiakou Railway, the first self-designed and self-built railway of China by a team headed by Zhan Tianyou; the Baoji-Chengdu Railway, the first electrified railway of China; the Chengdu-Kunming Railway which is widely known as one of the world’s toughest railway construction projects with complicated geographic features and the Qinghai-Tibet Railway completed in July 2006. The achievement list also includes the successful development of the first diesel locomotive and electric locomotive after the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949; the first manned high-temperature superconductivity model maglev train in the world; the first heavy-load railway Datong-Qinghuangdao Line and the first successful system debug of China’s first demo line for maglev trains. The university also participates vigorously in the design and construction of all subways in China and construction of key bridges including the famous Hangzhou Bay Bridge and Donghai Bridge, as well as numerous railway projects such as the Beijing-Tianjin intercity rail, Wuhan-Guangzhou Express Railway and Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway. SWJTU plays a key role in developing China’s rail transportation undertakings and is the most influential university in the field. It witnesses China’s rail transportation construction from the fledgling stage to maturity and prosperity, and numerous breakthrough achievements in the field originate here. Thus far, the university has formulated three systems in discipline construction, talent training and research to facilitate China’s rail transportation modernization process and serve regional economic development. The university is pushing forward collaborative innovation with social forces and various resources to step up innovation and generate collective wisdom towards China’s rail transportation development. It aims to cultivate high-quality talents with innovative spirit and competitive edge in order to provide technological and personnel support for the rail transportation construction and management and regional economic development in China.
SWJTU attaches great importance to the nurturing of creative students. In 2000, the university won the honor of being one of the 16 universities nationwide to meet the assessment standards for excellent undergraduate education set by the Ministry of Education. In 2007, it passed the national undergraduate education assessment with top rating scores. The university has put “Excellent Engineer Education and Training Program” in place to beef up reform on student training with pilot bases of the Mao Yisheng and Zhan Tianyou Honors Colleges. Courses on general education are offered in the university and large-scale open online courses are available to students. The university won government grants and opened a host of national-level quality online courses and resource-sharing courses, as well as demo classes for career guidance. The university has uploaded its first three MOOCs courses on the EWANT online course platform, which is jointly established by the five Jiaotong universities in China. Mechanical Design is the first MOOCs course given by universities of west China. In recent years, SWJTU has reaped six first prizes for national-level teaching achievement award, ranking No.1 in Sichuan province and No.9 nationwide.
SWJTU is a role model in nurturing students’ spirit in creativity and innovation. The “Jiaoda Award” cross-strait university student innovative competition is a platform to facilitate students to establish businesses. The university has taken the lead in setting up seven national-level pilot teaching demonstration centers. During the student competition round of the 8th World Congress on High Speed Rail, two graduate students from SWJTU defeated contestants from MIT and TUB to win the first prize in the category of “causes of limitation in high speed railway operation”, which is Chinese students’ greatest ever achievement. Meanwhile, undergraduate students at SWJTU take an active part in all kinds of hands-on practices, such as the national training program on innovation and business start-ups, Student Research Training Program, open day program for key laboratories and on-campus innovation competitions. The total number of program applicants and award winners is among the first tier of universities in the province. In 2013, students at SWJTU won nearly 700 prizes at or above provincial level, including 28 first prizes, 34 second prizes and 40 third prizes at national level. Liu Congzhi, an undergraduate student from the School of Mechanical Engineering, won the 8th Chinese Youth Science and Technology Innovation Prize. He is the second student from SWJTU to win this prize. Zhong Qiu, a graduate student from the School of Arts and Communication, won the 29th Chinese Television Flying Apsaras Award.
SWJTU achieves remarkable results in cultivating internationalized talents. It has forged long-term partnership with 166 universities and institutions across 54 countries and regions including the International Union of Railways, Cornell University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Technical University Munich. It runs overseas programs in cooperation with the US and France and is a member school of Erasmus Mundus Program and a contract university of programs administered by the China Scholarship Council (CSC). The international and exchange programs benefit students of all kinds. In 2013, a total of 682 international students came to study at SWJTU from 65 countries, among whom 187 won CSC grants and are majored in the discipline of rail transportation. SWJTU has co-established a Confucius Institute with Karlstads University in Sweden and plans to set up a joint school with the University of Leeds in the UK. SWJTU is the first in Sichuan to set up a Confucius institute with a partner university in Europe.
SWJTU is a specialist in training rail transportation personnel via its courses targeted at professionals and senior practitioners in the field. The university organizes training for all the high speed train drivers across the nation.
SWJTU has achieved the goal of having national-level platforms for all traditional specialty disciplines of civil engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, traffic & transportation engineering and surveying & mapping. The university has set up nearly 30 technology innovation bases at or above the provincial and ministerial level, with exemplary labs of the Rail Transportation National Laboratory, the State Key Laboratory of Traction Power, the Research Center of National Rail Transportation Electrification and Automation Engineering, the National Engineering Laboratory for Land Transport Geological Disaster Preparedness and Control, the National-local Collaboration Engineering Laboratory for Comprehensive Traffic and Transport Intelligence, and the National-local Collaboration Engineering Laboratory for High-speed Operation Safety Information Technology. The construction of the Rail Transportation National Laboratory was initiated in 2004 and put in use in 2011. SWJTU strives to provide strong support to boost the international profile of China’s high speed rail and enhance development of China’s rail transportation undertakings based on its academic excellence and research competitiveness in the field.
From 2011 to 2012, the number of research projects of SWJTU amounted to nearly 2700 with over half pertaining to rail transportation. As of 2006, the university had won more than 100 technology achievement awards, including one special prize, five first prizes and 11 second prizes for National Science & Technology Progress Award, along with one National Natural Science Award second prize. The number of honors SWJTU obtained in the category of National Science & Technology Progress Award ranked seventh and ninth in the years of 2009 and 2010 respectively among all universities in China. The key innovative products in the rail transportation field have been awarded Top 10 Research Advances in Universities in China as many as three times.
SWJTU eyes building a comprehensive university with a balanced development in engineering science and arts. It is making efforts to address issues that are relevant to the wellbeing of the country and the people in both theoretical and practical ways. The research centers of modern design and culture study, American study and Vietnam study have been set up and in collaboration with Tsinghua University, SWJTU took part in a project to establish a cooperative innovation center for the design and manufacturing of sophisticated equipment. SWJTU’s research teams participated in two high-speed train design projects and won the Red Star Design Award. Furthermore, an international center for technology and social innovation has been jointly built with Cornell University.
SWJTU is consolidating support for the service industry and the development of different regions. It cooperates with renowned enterprises such as the Beijing–Shanghai High-Speed Railway Co., Ltd, the China CSR Corporation Limited and the China CNR Corporation Limited, and forms strategic partnership with Shenhua Group, while seeking cooperation with International Union of Railways, Caterpillar Inc. and Rockwell Automation. By making use of its disciplinary advantage and substantiating its aim to serve national interest and regional development, the university plays a leading role in China’s construction of a new Silk Road, a Yangtze River economic zone, Chengdu-Chongqing economic zone and a traffic hub in the west.
SWJTU is committed to contributing to the nation’s strategic development. It gives support to the development of Tibet Autonomous Region, especially Tibet University. Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of China’s top political advisory body, acclaimed the university’s contribution to the region. In December 2013, the university co-sponsored “Summit on Globalization Strategy of China’s High Speed Railway” with Guangming Daily, which garnered wide attention from both home and abroad.
SWJTU sets culture and soft power construction as one of its top priorities, aiming to provide a favorable environment for teaching and learning. The university library is on the list of key Chinese classic protection sites at provincial level. The library has a collection of rare ancient works with high academic and cultural value, such as books dating back to 1705 during the ruling of Kangxi Emperor (1661 – 1722) and documents published in 1908 under the regime of Guangxu Emperor (1871 – 1908). To honor distinguished alumni from the 1933 in-take, Yan Kai, Zhang Wei, Lin Tonghua and Liu Huixian, who were among the first academicians in China, the university held a series of campaigns for commemoration. Bronze statues were erected, a university history museum and locomotive museum built and books on university history published. The university’s education platform for cultural attainment appeals to a group of experts, scholars and public figures who give lectures and help prosper the campus life. A micro film on the theme of graduation directed by students from SWJTU in 2013 won the best screenwriting award at the Micro Film Competition of National University Students. At present, the university plans to shape several think tanks to help with the strategic development of China’s economic zones of new Silk Road and Yangtze River and globalization of China’s high speed railway. All the efforts will consequently boost the soft power enhancement of SWJTU.
As one of China’s top universities and the most influential in the discipline of rail transportation, SWJTU values the strategy of propelling development via talent education and recruitment. The university continues to further its internationalization efforts to popularize cultural education, attract overseas talents and encourage scientific research. The university aims to become a hub to host personnel with prestige and a frontier in academic research, manifesting its spirit of innovation, creativity and pursuit of academic excellence.