Carmen Sigler, Ph.D.Provost & Vice President
for Academic Affairs
While most journeys, to a larger or smaller degree, are journeys of discovery, the Global Technology Initiative offered all its participants an unprecedented opportunity for discovery and learning. During our trip, we were captivated by the beauty of Chinese art, awed by the grandeur of ancient monuments, and dazzled by the vibrancy and vitality of Taipei, Beijing, and Shanghai. The visits to Taiwanese and Chinese research parks, high technology companies, universities, and manufacturing facilities, as well as American and multi-national corporations doing business in Asia, afforded us with an opportunity to witness firsthand the effects of globalization and to confirm Thomas Friedman’s assertion that “the world is flat.” Our interaction with individuals from a multiplicity of backgrounds (successful entrepreneurs, high-technology executives, distinguished academics, talented students, expatriates, tour guides) was also invaluable. We benefited from their wisdom and their gracious hospitality.
In addition, for me, participation in the trip had an added benefit: the opportunity to spend two weeks in the company of San José State students and faculty. Getting to know a wonderful, diverse group of remarkable students and witnessing the dedication of the faculty was truly the highlight of the trip and, perhaps, one of the most memorable moments in my tenure as Provost.
In closing, I want to express my sincere gratitude to all those who made this “journey of discovery” possible. Thanks to the GTI donors and sponsors for their generosity, to Dean Wei for her leadership, to Professor Tsao for his dedication, to our Chinese hosts for their kindness, and to the staff in the Dean’s Office for their logistics support. To Professor Barez and the GTI Scholars, thanks for the pleasure of your company.
College of Engineering
Since World War II, the U.S. has been the world leader in technologies, and Silicon Valley has been the epicenter of innovation and development. Now, as we enter the 21st century, the U.S. faces both new opportunities as well as significant challenges, which have been brought about by the rapid progress of developing nations. For instance, with population sizes three and four times that of the U.S., India and China, respectively, have large, highly-motivated, and cost-efficient workforces, that can perform remotely a multitude of services and manufacturing for U.S. customers. Outsourcing and remote development are some of the challenges the U.S. must address. At the same time, the progress of these countries has created the need for new technological developments, such as low-cost computers and green energy. Consequently, engineers have the opportunity to break into these more recent markets and positively alter the direction of the world.
In order to understand the needs of global integration, it is important for today’s engineering students to learn about globalization trends and formulate a plan to prepare for the future. One way for students to do this is to go “where the action is,” to use Senator Frist’s description of the GTI Program. Since 2004, students from San José State University have visited China and Taiwan, witnessing the global economy in action: semiconductors designed in Silicon Valley, manufactured in Taiwan, packaged and assembled in China, and sold in the U.S. They have also had the opportunity to become acquainted with some of the next generation of engineers: students from Tsinghua University and Beijing University of Technology, who had to study diligently in order to gain admission to their university, since less than 25 percent of over nine million high school graduates can “pass” the national college entrance examination. After learning the hopes and aspirations of their peers in China, San José State students have realized that if the U.S. is to remain competitive, they must work harder, continue to push the boundaries of their minds and imaginations, and, quite possibly, pursue an advanced education.
Students in the U.S. are standing on the threshold of a new era, where the world and the people who live in it are closer, in real time, than ever before. Openly embracing the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century can only strengthen the talents and skills of today’s graduates. My wish is for our unique GTI Program to galvanize SJSU students to be prepared for the new world and all of its exciting possibilities yet to be imagined.
Professor & Graduate Advisor
Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering
Mr. Mark Ding, President of SEMI China, told us in Shanghai that a DVD player made by a Chinese manufacturer and retailed at our local electronics stores (at about $50) requires a technology-license fee of $10 paid to the patent holders. With a 100% to 200% retailer mark-up assumed, it is clear that manufacturing is a cut-throat business and technological innovation pays off. Early or first entry to the technology market seems to be critical, for instance the dominance of Intel, Applied Materials, Cadence, and MicroSoft in the U.S. and in the world. Catching up with such companies or in such industries seems formidable. Dr. Ta-Lin Hsu of H&Q Asia Pacific told us that this catching-up would take China a very long time. However, early entry alone may not suffice, for instance the decline of Atari, XEROX, and GM. These imply the importance of innovation and continued innovation.
It may be much easier for China, Taiwan, and other countries to attempt to be the world’s technology leaders in new areas of innovation, where no dominant forces have existed, such as energy and the environment. While Toyota decided to pursue hybrid cars in the mid-1990s, GM decided not to follow suit but to pursue SUVs and the Hummers instead. Are we serious about energy and environmental issues now? The prize is not just the energy-related markets and environmental clean ups. It is huge, and all industries may need to be revamped, given the new sustainability considerations, if not requirements. Technological and policy innovation via R&D is the right way to solve the US’s and the world’s energy issues, not military or political maneuvering in the Middle East. International cooperation is also key to solving global environmental issues, not confrontation.
Globalization creates interdependence among the nations involved and, hence, enhances global security. The increased interaction may create new opportunities for mutual understanding and, unfortunately, for friction also. The U.S. has 5% of the world population but consumes 25% of the world’s energy. Given the size, history, and economy of the U.S., this is understandable. But any military aggression or political maneuvering in the Middle East by the U.S., which is already by far the wealthiest nation and people of the world, for securing access to oil will be despised by the world. In China’s efforts to alleviate poverty and to become a stronger nation, it has implemented the one-child-per-family policy for decades and, perhaps due to many other reasons, has not implemented democracy. Given the current large population of 1.3 billion people, not to mention that 80% of its population lives in rural areas with a deep-rooted tradition of large family, and given its recent history of one-hundred years of humiliation by colonial powers, such national policies are understandable. But not respecting intellectual properties developed in foreign nations is inexcusable. Not respecting the global environment by either country is also inexcusable. Free and fair trade in a “green” world is perhaps a worthy goal for the entire world.