Social and academic synergies in MIT's Mechanical Engineering department for empowering twentieth-century Chinese leaders
Author(s)Woodard, Joshua Charles
Social and academic synergies in Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Mechanical Engineering department for empowering 20th century Chinese leaders
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Dawn Wendell and Emma J. Teng.
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Between 1854 and 1954, MIT awarded 734 degrees to students studying abroad from China, which is the third largest number among all American universities during this time period. Within the MIT Mechanical Engineering department, the number of students is well within the hundreds. While these students studied engineering topics uniquely influenced by the developments and needs of twentieth-century China, their courses of study were furthermore influenced by the tutelage they received from a small set of MIT professors willing to cross cultural gaps. These students also had support through affinity groups and made notable impacts on MIT's social landscape during their time at the Institute. Finally, they went on to play significant roles in the subsequent industrialization of China. What, then, were the academic and social environments in the twentieth-century MIT Mechanical Engineering department that led to the successful graduation of students studying abroad from China, and what lessons can be applied to present-day MIT? Based on information from the 1931 MIT Chinese Students' Directory, which provides data on Chinese students from 1877 to 1930, Chinese students' social and academic presence at MIT was quantified, and efforts were made to identify their research advisors and academic mentors, and also to delineate what interpersonal relationships and connections existed between the faculty and the students. In the first decades of the twentieth century, several Mechanical Engineering professors took on more Chinese students than others, most notably, George B. Haven. From the analysis of 20+ theses written by these students between 1877 and 1931, the Mechanical Engineering faculty certainly rallied to support these students as they faced linguistic, cultural, and other challenges during their courses of study. This cohort of Chinese mechanical engineering students was responsible for inventing the first Chinese typewriter, doing the earliest mechanical tests on China-native materials such as ramie and bamboo, and was fundamental to the development of the Mechanical Engineering department at MIT's sister school, Tsinghua University in Beijing.
Thesis: S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, 2018.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 41-43).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology