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A Course in Best Practices in Scientific Writing and Oral Presentation in English for Chinese Graduate Students in Engineering and the Life Sciences

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Technical Session

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Paper Authors


John B. Troy Northwestern University

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John B. Troy, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University, has a B.S. (1st class honors) from the University of London, King’s College and a D.Phil. from the University of Sussex, both in the U.K. His research is within the broad area of Neural Engineering with focus on signal processing within the nervous system and the development of technology for neuroscience research and neuroprosthetics. Funding of his research has come from the NIH, the NSF, NATO, the QNRF and the Whitaker Foundation. He has received an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship and is a Fellow of the AIMBE. He has served as Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University and Chair of the Council of Chairs of US Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering Programs.

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Pei-Ji Liang Shanghai Jiao Tong University

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Pei-Ji Liang, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. She obtained B.Sc./M.Sc. degrees from Department of Precision Instrumentation, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and obtained a D.Phil. degree from Department of Physiology, University of Oxford. Her research has long been focused on neural information processing in visual systems, and has been supported by National Science Foundation of China, as well as Ministry of Science and Technology of China. She has also been awarded Natural Science Award by Shanghai Municipal Government. She is currently a council member of Chinese Neuroscience Society and Chinese Biophysics Society. She also serves as associate editor-in-chief of Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience and editorial board member of Acta Physiologica Sinica.

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It is well recognized in China that, for the professional advancement of its graduate students in the upcoming decades, mastery of writing and oral presentation of their work in English is a necessity. Thus, for the past four years we have been developing and running a course in scientific writing and oral presentation in English at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU), one of the premier institutions of higher education in China. For the first years, the course was offered to a highly select group of primarily biomedical engineering, mostly PhD, graduate students, the field in which the two principals of the course – one Chinese professor and one U.S. professor – hold their academic appointments. In the most recent offering of the course, the student population was expanded greatly to include almost 200 MS and PhD students from many of the Schools at SJTU. In this 2018 offering a large faculty team was established to provide tutorials to groups of roughly 12 students to supplement the lecture component delivered by the U.S. professor. Student and faculty reviews of the course have been mostly positive and many important lessons have been learnt through the experience. The most critical of these lessons are being incorporated into a revised plan for the course when it is offered next in 2019. It is felt that our experience should be of interest to others contemplating the challenges of preparing non-native English speakers for the engineering profession in this twenty-first century. In the paper we share our methodology of teaching and detail the major challenges faced in this project.

Troy, J. B., & Liang, P. (2019, June), A Course in Best Practices in Scientific Writing and Oral Presentation in English for Chinese Graduate Students in Engineering and the Life Sciences Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--31952

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