Written By: RAMZY
BAROUD (Palestine Chronicle)*
Article Date: September 01, 2008
desire to give its home-grown design and engineering students the skills
to compete in the global market received a boost in March, when Autodesk
launched a student design community for the country.
design innovation technology company has created a web portal in
co-operation with the Ministry of Education that offers students from
several of China's universities free downloads of the latest digital
design tools for specialities related to architecture, building and
Wan Qing Sun,
senior manager for education programmes at Autodesk China, says the
portal gives students an opportunity to gain access to the latest
technologies and to develop their skills for the global marketplace.
allows them to do their homework and projects online, and provides
opportunities for them to network with foreign students and industry
experts," adds Wan.
initiative is part of Autodesk's overall education strategy to train a
new generation of skilled graduates who can meet the employment needs of
China's fast-diversifying economy.
years ago, the group set up a Centre of Excellence computer laboratory
with cutting-edge design technologies in collaboration with leading
Chinese universities to develop a multidisciplinary curriculum
customised to student needs.
Currently, Tsinghua University, Tongji University, Harbin Institute of
Technology, South China University of Technology (SCUT) and Shanghai
Jiao Tong University benefit from this project.
"Institutes of higher learning are places where information regarding
changing cultural trends and advanced skills and technology are passed
on to students. Architecture is one such skill," says Professor Li Jian
Cheng, deputy director of the Architectural Technology & Science
Institute, School of Architecture at SCUT.
enable our students to have a competitive edge in the workforce after
graduation, the principal of SCUT pays constant attention to
technological advances to ensure our students have working knowledge of
the latest developments."
Li adds that the training has enabled his graduates to find employment
in the field of building design, where the demand for architectural
skills is growing.
public and private sector organisations in China increasingly recognise
the opportunity the global design industry offers the local economy,
China's universities are realising the importance of partnering with
global leaders such as Autodesk.
industry ventures are in line with a recent government campaign to focus
on "independent innovation". The goal is to move away from "Made in
China" to "Designed in China", by creating value-added, home-grown
products, services and technologies.
policymakers - no longer content with the country's role as the "world's
factory" - have been aggressively promoting the message of innovation as
the key to competitiveness.
government also wants to move towards sustainable development. The
rising pressures on the country to reduce carbon emissions make
sustainable design a growing area of importance and have led to a focus
on integrating new technology," says Wan from Autodesk.
adds that the transition cannot happen unless China nurtures and
develops a pool of skilled labour, which can help it raise its status
from that of low-cost manufacturing base.
government recognises one of the effective ways to bring about change is
through education, to improve the global image of its students and show
that they have the skills and knowledge to compete in the global
enterprises such as Lenovo, Huaqi Information Digital Technology and
Founder Technology have also set up independent industrial design
departments to enhance their competitiveness.
China's onward march is not without challenges. Because design is
important in so many industries, there is a dearth of local experts to
keep pace with rising demand.
other parts of Asia, such as Singapore or Hong Kong, which roll out the
red carpet for foreign workers, mainland China cannot get round the
problem by hiring from abroad.
foreign hire is equal to 10 local hires, so cost is an issue," says Wan.
"This is why they need to train local people to fill the design-related
technical jobs, as the demand is across all industries, not just for
the educational investments by Autodesk have introduced innovation and
creative design at the ground level, the more important goal of bridging
the skills gap, is certainly going to be a more time-consuming process.
says that it may take China a decade to build a sustainable talent base
of engineers and designers who can support the industrial needs of the
"Every year, about 1.5 million engineers graduate in China. In
about 10 years time, there will be enough qualified skilled students to
meet the challenges China faces."