Jack Bennett, a senior mechanical engineering student at West Virginia University, was one of only three scholarship college students from the United States selected to attend the China University of Mining and Technology 2016 Summer School.
CUMT is ranked as the best mining university in China and has a worldwide reputation in mining technology and research. This scholarship program allowed students from around the world to learn about mining, technology and geology by studying in Xuzhou while at the same time meeting Chinese students and professors with similar professional interests.
Bennett and his classmates also traveled and experienced Chinese culture in a number of select cities.
“My trip to China was absolutely amazing and bar-none the greatest thing I have been able to do while attending WVU,” said Bennett who is currently a student in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.
“I saw the Great Wall of China, the city of Shanghai in depth, and experienced the life of university students in a Chinese city,” said Bennett. “Studying at CUMT gave me the chance to take classes I would not have taken on my regular path to graduation.”
During the program, Bennett studied modern mining techniques, mine safety, mine land reclamation, geology, coal gas extraction and water protection, and coal seam hazards. “One cool thing about the recommended reading list was seeing books authored by Syd Peng.” Peng is the Charles E. Lawall Chair Emeritus in Mining Engineering and an international expert on underground mining.
“I made amazing relationships and connections that will last throughout my professional career,” said Bennett. He met students from Australia, Britain, Poland, Russia, Vietnam, Mongolia, and many Chinese students and professors including WVU Ph.D. graduates.
Bennett is the only student from WVU to attend this year, joining two mining engineering students from the University of Kentucky. The first study abroad trip to China specifically for WVU mining engineering students was organized by the late Dr. Christopher J. Bise in 2011.
Bennett was recommended for the program by Dr. Richard Bajura, director of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy, WVU’s liaison to the International Higher Education Alliance for Mining, Energy and Environment, which selects U.S. students for the summer school.
Qingyun Sun, associate director of WVU’s US-China Energy Center and a graduate of CUMT, earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the university. “This program allowed Jack to study abroad, travel and make international connections. Participating in this program is a distinction few other graduates will have on their resumes,” Sun said.
Bennett was quick to add, “To someone who never left the United States before, the initial culture shock hit me fairly quick. It’s the little things about Chinese society, what’s polite and what isn’t, that stood out. It also made me aware of certain freedoms we have in the U.S. that not only the Chinese but some of the other international students do not have.”
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