SFU News: Awards celebrate dual degree program anniversary
The Simon Fraser University-Zhejiang University Dual Degree Program (SFU-ZJU DDP) in Computing Science is marking its 10-year anniversary with five awards to students and faculty.
“These awards will cap a successful decade for the program, which has raised the profile of SFU and Canada, and attracted some of China’s most talented computer science students and researchers,” said Martin Ester, director of SFU’s School of Computing Science.
The award winners include (see backgrounder for details):
- Mark Chua - Outstanding Academic Achievement
- Yuke Zhu - Outstanding Academic Achievement
- Andrew Paugh - Engaging the World Award
- Xiaoyuan Xu - Engaging the World Award
- Zhejiang University Professor Gencai Chen - Outstanding Leadership Award
The SFU-ZJU DDP has grown into a well-subscribed immersion program that now admits more than 30 students from both universities annually.
When it launched in 2005, the SFU-ZJU DDP was a pioneer program that aimed to immerse students academically and culturally in both Chinese and Canadian contexts. It provides a learning environment that prepares students, faculty and staff to work in an increasingly global environment.
Students must successfully study computing courses abroad for a minimum of two years in order to meet the degree requirements and learn a foreign language (English or Mandarin) at a conversational level. Students earn a degree from each institution. ZJU, based in Hangzhou, China, is ranked one of country’s top three universities.
Following the strong response to the undergraduate program, SFU’s School of Computing Science launched a graduate dual degree program (GDDP) with ZJU in 2011.
“This is the brand name of student exchange programs,” said Professor Wenzhi Chen, vice-dean for undergraduate education and international affairs, College of Computer Science and Technology, Zhejiang University. “In the next decade we will work on strengthening the program in three ways: expanding the graduate DDP program, and increasing the number of faculty exchanges and research collaborations.”
The program earned the 2012 BC Council for International Education Award for Outstanding Program in International Education. It also won a 2013 award from the Canadian Bureau for International Education.
BACKGROUNDER: 2014 SFU-ZJU DDP in Computing Science award winners
Mark Chua - Outstanding Academic Achievement Award
SFU alumnus Mark Chua, the first student to complete the DDP program, was part of the first cohort to learn Chinese through its rigorous Chinese language-training curriculum. He is cited for his outstanding academic performance at both SFU and ZJU. On the Faculty of Applied Sciences Dean's Honor Roll multiple times, he received an NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Assistant Award, a major achievement for an undergraduate student. Since graduating, Chua has become a senior software engineer at Twitter, a top IT company and has successfully recruited several fellow DDP students to Twitter.
Yuke Zhu - Outstanding Academic Achievement Award
Yuke Zhu’s achievements as an undergraduate student in the SFU-ZJU DDP combine near-perfect grades in coursework with research productivity that would make a top PhD student proud. He published three papers while working on three different projects, two with faculty members and one with another DDP student. These appeared in top venues, including the Machine Learning Journal, and at the prestigious Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) conference. Professors noted that his diligence, independence, and clarity of thought made him one of their best students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Andrew Paugh - Engaging the World Award
Andrew Paugh is a well-rounded DDP student who has successfully leveraged his China experience. He has learned to become fluent in Mandarin and will begin working at Microsoft upon graduation. During his time in China, Andrew worked at Dynamsoft, which is a company headquartered in Vancouver with an office in China. This experience later helped him land an internship at Microsoft. Paugh mentored new students in China and participated in outreach activities in Canada. He led the development of a DDP student wiki site that provides tips and tools for program participants and strengthened the connections between the Chinese and Canadian cohorts.
Xiaoyuan Xu - Engaging the World Award
Xiaoyuan Xu joined the SFU-ZJU DDP in 2005 and came to SFU in 2008 in the first cohort. She had one of the highest cumulative grade point averages (CGPA) from ZJU and a near-perfect SFU CGPA. She was president of WICS (Women in Computing Science) at SFU in 2010-2011. Her engagement was recognized with various awards, among them a SAP Canada Scholarship, Microsoft Scholarship and Canada Anita Borg scholarship finalist award. Since graduation, Xu has worked at Microsoft and has now moved to Twitter. While at Microsoft, she founded a calligraphy club, and at Twitter she is the university relationship leader, initiating its campus ambassador program.
Professor Gencai Chen – Outstanding Leadership Award
Gencai Chen is a professor at Zhejiang University (ZJU), College of Computer Science and Technology. Since 2005, he has overseen the operation of the DDP and played a pivotal role in its development. He was a member of the ZJU delegation that visited SFU in 2004 and initiated the partnership with SFU. He was instrumental in the development of the Computing Science DDP curriculum and program requirements. Chen was also responsible at ZJU for the development of the Graduate DDP (GDDP) in 2010 and its subsequent rollout. He is the co-senior supervisor of one of the first GDDP PhD students.
Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.