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Pitt signs deal for engineering students with Chinese university

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Monday, April 1, 2013, 12:27 p.m.

The University of Pittsburgh inked an agreement with Sichuan University in China to start a joint engineering program for undergraduate students and research, Pitt officials announced Monday morning.

Faculty from the two universities will staff the Sichuan University Pittsburgh Institute, in Sichuan, which expects to enroll its first 100 students in the fall of 2014.

Plans call for Sichuan University to invest nearly $40 million to erect and equip a building for the institute on its campus. The Chinese university will cover the institute's operating costs and faculty start-up costs, Pitt officials said.

Gerald D. Holder, dean of engineering at Pitt, predicted the institute will yield benefits for students and businesses.

“The large number of American companies that do work in China or sell products there will benefit from the intercultural education that the joint institute provides,” Holder said in a statement.

The agreement comes four months after Carnegie Mellon University announced a partnership with Sun Yat sen University in Guangzhou to staff a joint institute to provide graduate education in engineering. CMU spokeswoman Chriss Swaney said CMU will begin its first class at Sun Yat sen University this fall.

The two Pittsburgh schools are among five universities — including Duke, the University of Michigan and New York University — that signed large partnership agreements with universities in China.

The Sichuan agreement is the second Chinese deal in two years for Pitt. The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine signed an agreement to accept 25 to 45 biomedical researchers from Tsinghua University in Beijing every year for two years of training as visiting research scholars.

Debra Erdley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7996 or

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