China Megainfrastructure Study Abroad Program (Civil Engineering)

Location of Program: Beijing,Tianjin, Yichang, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong      Year: 2017
Program Director(s): Dr. Rick Balling and Dr. Grant Schultz
Participating Major(s): Civil Engineering


This program focused on innovation in mega-designs for China’s city planning and structures. Before traveling to China, students worked in teams researching the unique qualities of a particular city’s transportation systems, skyscrapers, and bridges; then designed their own mega-projects. In China, students visited these world class mega-structures as well as top engineering firms, museums, and interacted with Chinese engineering students at Tongji University.   

Recap of the Year:

Leadership Development
Student teams organized themselves to collaborate on designing a fictional sustainable complex using green technologies. Additionally, students each contributed research on a specific aspect of a city’s transportation system to write a collaborative professional paper.  Throughout these projects, students exchanged roles as both followers and leaders. 

Global Agility
Students increased their global perspective by learning how China has engineered to meet the massive infrastructural needs of the world’s largest population. As students traveled to different cities and came into contact with the local people, students not only observed the cultural differences between the US and China, but also city to city. Working on projects with Chinese students from Tongji University brought the cultural experience up close as students observed similarities and differences and created friendships.

Technical Experience 
For the megastructures section of the class, students used spreadsheets and various equations to calculate a 300-meter tall skyscraper and calculated the costs and benefits to their “greenplex” design.  After learning the design processes, students visited the buildings and transportation systems in China prepared to observe and analyze at a deeper level.  For the megacities portion, students studied how each city has met their transportation needs using sustainable methods and evaluated how these methods have impacted the city’s people, economy, and environment.  


Student Experience

“I have only been able to study infrastructure and buildings located in the United States.  Because of this, I never had the opportunity to know what other systems may exist in the world and if any of these systems are more effective….Having gone to China, I have learned a lot in broadening my perspective on what forms of transportation and structures can be used to solve a specific problem in the world.”- Stewart Perry

“Visiting China helped me see that there were many different approaches and methods to solve the same engineering issue.  I want to learn how to be the bridge between different methods, so that we can all build a better world together.”- Shannon Oh