Aug 12, 2012 | Atlanta, GA
Earlier this month, eight students and one faculty member from Tsinghua University’s School of Environment visited Georgia Tech for two weeks as part of a student exchange program. It was funded by a cost sharing collaboration between Tsingua University and the BBISS. The exchange provided a cultural and academic forum for students studying many aspects of sustainable urban systems to learn from each other while gaining a cultural perspective that only international travel can foster.
The students were able to interact with fifteen members of the Georgia Tech faculty from nine different disciplines, all with a focus on sustainable technologies. Students also had the opportunity to visit several sites off campus for their relevance to sustainability and the unique culture of the Southeastern U. S. The tour included visits to the Southface Energy Institute, High Museum of Art, Clayton County constructed wetland, World of Coke, Georgia Aquarium, John’s Creek membrane water treatment facility, and the Atlanta office of the green architecture firm Perkins + Will. The students also travelled to Orlando, Florida for a few days to visit the attractions.
Last year, in July of 2011, seven students from the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems travelled to China for a 3 week journey that took them to Tsinghua University in Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongming Island. BBISS students had the opportunity to visit many of the rich cultural sites in Beijing.
The academic aspects of both trips were organized in a similar way. Students were grouped by research interest and paired with a faculty advisor. The groups developed a short project over the course of several days. Final presentations were given in which the students showed what new insights they acquired into their chosen topics. In both instances, the students gained an appreciation for the cultural differences in arriving at sustainable solutions to urban problems. The students from both countries have also significantly expanded their circles of colleagues as they pursue their professional careers in sustainability and urban infrastructure.