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Last modified: Monday, July 10, 2006

New agreement with leading Chinese university will strengthen Indiana's IT efforts

July 10, 2006

EDITORS: A photo of the Tsinghua signing ceremony and that university's announcement can be viewed at

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- An agreement reached today (July 10) between Indiana University and Tsinghua University in China establishes a cooperative research program that will focus on student exchanges and expanding and improving worldwide use of the Internet for scientific research.

The agreement was signed at a ceremony in Beijing by IU Bloomington Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael A. McRobbie and Tsinghua Vice President Chen Jining.

Michael McRobbie

Print-Quality Photo

Tsinghua is often described as the MIT of China because its students are at the top of a highly competitiv admissions process to the Chinese university system.

McRobbie said the agreement will bring a variety of benefits to both IU and the state of Indiana. For IU, it will help attract even more funding for information technology and supercomputing research projects.

The agreement will bring some of China's top science and information technology students to Indianapolis and Bloomington for advanced study, and that in turn will help IU attract more top American students in these fields.

For the state as a whole, McRobbie hopes that over time Indiana will become even more attractive to commercial enterprises that need to be close to a "critical mass" of the world's best-trained information technology workers.

Patrick O'Meara, IU's dean of international studies, said he is very pleased with the agreement. "Provost McRobbie has established a very special relationship with China's top university in the field of information technology, and it gives IU a beachhead into that country for exchanging both students and academic expertise," he said.

The agreement sets up cooperative research ventures in engineering, management and cybersecurity for high-speed, broadband data networks, especially those used by scientists around the world to transfer large quantities of digital data.

McRobbie pointed out that just as IU manages the nationwide Internet 2 system of broadband connections from a control center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Tsinghua manages a similar network in China known as "CERNET." IU also manages the TransPAC network, which provides Internet connections with Japan and China.

This makes IU an ideal location to help train China's future information technology managers, McRobbie said.

"Managing these networks is a complex and difficult matter," he said. "IU and Tsinghua both have expertise in these areas, and we want to work together jointly in solving the problems that arise in the operation of international high-performance networks."

McRobbie noted that IU and Tsinghua are also in the early stages of holding a joint China-U.S. symposium on network security to develop international standards on fighting viruses, worms, phishing attacks and other destructive uses of the Internet.

"Building academic expertise in these areas is vitally important to the future of the Internet as the world's primary means of communication," McRobbie said.

McRobbie is currently leading a delegation from IU on an 11-day visit to several universities in China to discuss cooperation and potential partnerships in both information technology and life sciences research.

The delegation will also be meeting with officials at Peking University in Beijing, Zhejiang University in Hangzhou and Fudan University in Shanghai.