UC Berkeley College of Engineering to open offices in Shanghai

UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Zhangjiang Hi-tech Park in Shanghai, China, to establish a UC Berkeley office of the college in Shanghai.

The memorandum, signed on Friday, marks the preliminary stages of the creation of a center where UC Berkeley students, professors and researchers could collaborate on research projects focusing on biotechnology, green technology and information technology.

Additionally, UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and schools of Public Health, Education and Law, as well as the College of Environmental Design, are also investigating increasing their presence in China, said UC Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley.

“We are exploring degree and non-degree teaching, executive education, and online teaching, as well as more traditional exchanges and research collaborations,” Edley said in an email. “This heightened engagement with China is both overdue and inevitable but only if it is a net plus for us both academically and financially.”

Karen Rhodes, executive director of marketing and communications for the College of Engineering, said the project has been in the planning stages for at least a year and was spurred by long-running collaborations with partners in Shanghai.

“I think this is building on years of extensive interaction with both companies in that area as well as research institutions,”  said Rhodes. “The office could serve as a base of operations from which the College of Engineering can create opportunities in Shanghai for students to come over and take advantage of as members of research teams.”

Rhodes added that students might be able to take classes at the office in the near future or travel to Shanghai to take part in collaborative research projects.

She also said students might be able to use the office to participate in internship programs with companies in the area.

“Shanghai is just an area of unprecedented growth and technology innovation,” said Rhodes. “Offering a student a chance to see that technological innovation is something we really want to be able to do for our students.”

While there is no set date for when the office will open, Rhodes said research topics that might serve as areas of collaboration between campus  engineering professors and industry counterparts in Shanghai may be proposed by early summer 2012.

Rhodes added that any funding needed for the project would be from private donors and not the state.

UC Berkeley is one of several universities that have opened offices in Shanghai or worked on educational partnerships with the city.  New York University announced in March that it would open a degree-granting campus in Shanghai, and the University of Southern California has had an office in Shanghai since 2009.