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The Global Engagement Office (GEO) is responsible for forming and implementing a coherent strategy to promote the University’s international development and global profile.

The undergraduate admission of SUSTech adopts comprehensive evaluation enrollment mode based on national college entrance examination.The graduate admission of SUSTech currently adopts joint training mode.

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Outstanding Graduate Zhang Zicheng: Growing through experimentation

Apr 5, 2019 Special Report

With graduation nearly upon him, Department of Chemistry graduate Zhang Zicheng from Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) has already received his dream offer from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to continue his studies. In the final stages of his degree, Zhang Zicheng told us about how he planned to further his studies abroad and shared his experiences.

Mastering the skills in learning and doing research is important

With his GPA ranking first in the Department of Chemistry, Zhang Zicheng does not care about his score or ranking. During our interview, he would like to talk more about what he learned outside of the classroom instead of in it. It was what he did away from the laboratory that broadened his horizons through engaging and acquiring cutting-edge knowledge.

“Learning is a habit. When people are very busy, they are more efficient.” Zhang Zicheng took more than 30 credits of courses and joined in two research groups in his sophomore year, but he still enjoyed the busy time. Whenever he had free time, he would read some news and books to maintain his pace of learning. "If I am tired of learning a particular type of knowledge, I will turn to some other type of knowledge. I will let the brain rest through changing content so that I won’t get tired of something." This variation ensured an efficient learning style.

Zhang Zicheng also has his own unique learning method. He never hurried to understand every detail before learning the structure of the class. He is more likely to scan the whole book and build the framework of its content, before returning to specific chapters to solve problems he has met. This method saves time and energy, allowing him to ignore irrelevant details while focusing on critical content. It also allowed him to take an interdisciplinary approach to his academics, succeeding in fields like chemistry, materials, physics, mathematics, and computer science.

Zhang Zicheng reflected on a research experience that cost him half a year without any achievements. He didn’t give up, considering whether he had sufficient theoretical knowledge to justify continuing the research. It’s worth mentioning what influenced him the most among the laboratory experiences. Associate Professor Liang Yongye was a significant influence on Zhang Zicheng’s research attitude. His precise attitude and practical philosophy exerted a subtle influence on Zhang’s research. This encouraged him to persevere, think and make constant progress in the future.

Zhang Zicheng firmly believes that the most important thing for undergraduates in a research university like SUSTech is the research attitude and concentration. The ability to independently complete research is also essential.

He suggested that students who are determined to be scientific researchers should make a perfect scientific research plan as soon as possible. The junior students should first read a considerable amount of literature to understand cutting-edge knowledge. After being familiar with the research process and coming up with your ideas, the students can talk with instructors about their proposed research. Senior students should keep up with the cutting-edge technology and select one field to follow. “I have subscribed to some professional journals. If they update something, I will glance at the abstract and decide whether I will read or not.”

Zhang have mastered a learning method that works for him, ensuring that he finds joy in his studies.

Choosing and exploring is very important

Speaking of his choice of SUSTech, Zhang Zicheng remembers his days in senior high school when he saw a poster about SUSTech’s advanced educational resources. Although there were a lot of choices, Zhang finally made up his mind and came to SUSTech.

Zhang believes that educators at SUSTech provide guidance and give students the complete freedom to explore their interests, which is very precious for him. With the various and fulsome resources at SUSTech, he has been able to explore his own interests and tap his potential.

When talking about the choice of scientific research, Zhang said that he had changed his direction six times. In the free academic environment provided by SUSTech, he finally found his way. “High school competitions, undergraduate research, and doctoral research are all completely different, and you need to find the way that best suits you,” said Zhang. He also believed that students need to learn more and have more experiences. Students should neither be frustrated by failure nor be lost because of achievements. Discovering a sincere interest and being determined to follow it is what students should do.

Going out and broadening the horizon is very important

Zhang believes that “internationalization” will be the keyword to summarize his learning experience in SUSTech. Being taught in English by educators that have almost all had overseas experience is just one example of the internationalization that has influenced Zhang. Joint training programs at home and abroad, and the development of platforms with world-renowned universities are other examples. Zhang once raised his own confusion about the application of artificial intelligence in chemistry when the Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Grubbs visited SUSTech. Such global influence helped him gain a better understanding on interdisciplinary fields like computer science and mathematics.

SUSTech offers many overseas opportunities for students. In his summer break, Zhang participated in a research project at UCLA, where he was the first undergraduate student to participate in this program. The intense, immersive scientific research left a deep impression on Zhang, in which he felt fulfilled in terms of his research and personal development, by spending time with people of different cultural backgrounds and directions.

Zhang said that SUSTech’s internationalization has been expanding rapidly. SUSTech now has a strong international atmosphere and in the future, students will enjoy an environment that provides a better global outlook.

At the end of the interview, Zhang showed us his passion for music and literature. He has an open mind that has expanded further from his experiences both at home and abroad. He believes that determination is not unshakable but adapts to the environment. One must follow their heart and continuously adjust in order to pursue a bright future.

Text: Zhang Kefan

Translated and Adapted: Jiaqi Liu, Anting Pan

Proofread: Chris Edwards, Mandi Zhu

Main picture design: Qiu Yan

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