Volume 15 Issue 4 - September 17, 2010 PDF
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University of Southampton :
Visit by Taiwan Top Universities R&D Delegation
Professor and Dean
Department of Electrical Engineering
College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
National Cheng Kung University
Tainan, Taiwan
[July 19, 2010]
This article first appeared in EECS NCKU
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Hosting Delegation:
  1. Professor Don Nutbeam, Vice-Chancellor (Secretary: Beverley Bennett, bab@soton.ac.uk)
  2. Professor Philip Nelson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (pan1@soton.ac.uk)
  3. Professor Anne Curry, Head of School, School of Humanities (aec@soton.ac.uk)
  4. Professor Maozu Lu, Director, Centre for Contemporary China (ml@soton.ac.uk)
  5. Professor Harvey Rutt, Head of School, Electronics & Computer Science (hnr@ecs.soton.ac.uk)
  6. Dr. Martin Charlton, Academic staff in Nano Research Group, School of Electronics & Computer Science (mdbc@ecs.soton.ac.uk)
  7. Professor Mark Everist, Professor of Music, School of Humanities (me@soton.ac.uk)
  8. Dr. Tom Irvine, Lecturer in Music, School of Humanities (tairvine@soton.ac.uk)
  9. Dr. David Bretherton, mSpace Research Fellow (db4x07@soton.ac.uk)
  10. Professor Mark Cornwall, Professor of Modern European History, School of Humanities (jmc3@soton.ac.uk)
  11. Mr. Thom Bull, Recruitment Officer, School of Humanities (txb@soton.ac.uk)
  12. Dr. Yvonne Marshall, Archaeology, School of Humanities (ymm@soton.ac.uk)
  13. Professor Dan Hewak, Professor, Optoelectronics Research Centre (dh@orc.soton.ac.uk)
  14. Mr. Jun-Yu (Bruce) Ou, Ph.D. Taiwanese student, Optoelectronics Research Centre (jo2c09@orc.soton.ac.uk)
  15. Tsung-Sheng Kao, Ph.D. Taiwanese student, Optoelectronics Research Centre (tsk@orc.soton.ac.uk)
  16. Dr. Kevin Chung-Che Huang, Research Fellow, Optoelectronics Research Centre (cch@orc.soton.ac.uk)
  17. Professor Bashir Makhoul, Head of School, School of Art (bm5@soton.ac.uk)
  18. Chris Sinclair, Deputy Director, Centre for Language Study (cs10@soton.ac.uk)
  19. Ms. Frances Holley, Country Development Manager, International Office, U. of Southampton (frances.holley@soton.ac.uk).
  20. Ms. Elizabeth Farnell, Communication Officer, International Unit, UK Higher Education (Elizabeth.farnell@international.ac.uk).

Taiwan Delegation:
  1. Prof. Si-Chen Lee, President of NTU (sclee@cc.ee.ntu.edu.tw)
  2. Prof. Ching-Ray Chang, Director General, Department of International Cooperation, National Science Council, Taiwan (crchang@nsc.gov.tw)
  3. Ms. Cheng-Tung Tao, Program Director, Department of International Cooperation, NSC (cttao@nsc.gov.tw)
  4. Prof. Ji-Wang Chern, Dean of R&D, NTU (jwchern@ntu.edu.tw)
  5. Prof. Chao-Tsen Chen, Group Leader of Strategic Planning, Office of R&D, NTU (chenct@ntu.edu.tw)
  6. Prof. Yonhua Tzeng, Dean of College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, National Cheng Kung University (tzengyo@mail.ncku.edu.tw, tzengyo@gmail.com)
  7. Prof. Yeng-Horng Perng, Vice President, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (vpresident@mail.ntust.edu.tw)
  8. Prof. Chen-Yi Lee, Dean of R&D, NCTU (cylee@faculty.nctu.edu.tw)
  9. Prof. Tsun-Yee Chiu, Dean of R&D, National Chang Gung University (dtychiu@mail.cgu.edu.tw)
  10. Prof. Yen-Hsyang Chu, Dean of R&D, NCU (yhchu@jupiter.ss.ncu.edu.tw)
  11. Prof. Chuan-Mu Chen, Dean of R&D, NCHU (chchen1@dragon.nchu.edu.tw)

The Taiwan delegation of R&D Leaders from seven top universities arrived at University of Southampton at around 10am on July 19, 2010 for an official visit.  University of Southampton is about one and half hours away from London by bus. By the appointment of President Michael Lai, I joined the Taiwan R&D Delegation in representation of NCKU.  It was a shining day with blue sky and comfortable temperature when University of Southampton was busy with summer graduation. In such a busy day, more than twenty faculty, staff, and students of the University spent their precious time meeting with the Taiwan delegation.
Professor Don Nutbeam, Vice-Chancellor of Southampton University (fourth from left) and President Lee of NTU (fifth from the left) delivering opening remarks.

University of Southampton was founded in 1862 as the Hartley Institute and is situated in the South coast of England about one hour from central London.  It currently has about 22,000 students of which over 4000 are from outside of UK.  The University was ranked 95th by the Times Higher Education World Ranking and ranked 152-200th by Shanghai Jiao Tong University World University Rankings.  Among its strengths in the world, Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences ( ENG ) ranks 78-100th in the world, Chemistry ranks 51-75th in the world, Clinical Medicine and pharmacy ranks 77-100th in the world.

In comparison with other universities in UK, University of Southampton’s Engineering ranks 2nd, Computer Science ranks 5th, Music ranks 7th, Nursing ranks 7th, Geography & Environment ranks 9th, Law ranks 10th, Psychology and Medicine rank 11th.  University of Southampton is a leading university for collaborations with industry, ranked second in the UK.  U of Southampton is ranked third, after Stanford and Cambridge, in the world for creating spin-off companies.  It has spun off twelve successful companies since 2000.  Four of them have been floated on London’s Alternative Investment Market with a combined market capitalization value of £180M.  One of its spin outs, PrimerDesign Ltd, was the first company globally to produce a DNA test kit for the Mexican H1N1 swine flu.

University of Southampton has a long history of R&D in the hi-tech world of performance sports.  The Wolfson Unit for Marine Technology and Industrial Aerodynamics is one of eight organizations in UK chosen as innovation partners to UK Sport.  2010 Vancouver gold medalist, Amy Williams, in bob skeleton was aided by doctoral researchers working in collaboration with UK Sport.

The University has the largest School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) in UK, which was ranked 1st and 2nd in the UK by the 2010 Guardian/ Times University guides.  ECS also ranks 6th in the world based on publication citations.  The department has 336 staff including over 90 academics, 250 research students, 180 MSc students, and 850 undergraduate students.  Among the faculty includes Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.

One of the most important aspects of the School’s distinguished history was the invention and development of the fibre optic cable, which transformed the potential of global communications.  The School has distinguished research partners such as BAE Systems, Philips, ARM, BT, Microsoft, and Rolls Royce.  The current research portforlio is worth £65M with an annual income around £15M.  The School has a strong reputation in spin-off in the area of photonics and telecommunications.

ECS enjoys a state-of-the-art Nanofabrication Center (http://www.southampton-nanofab.com) which includes a 680 m2 nanofabrication facility, 121 m2 bio-cleanroom, and 118 m2 thick-film cleanroom.  The bio-cleanroom, when working together with the new Institute for Life Sciences in a custom-designed£47M Life Sciences Building, will serve as an interface between inorganic nanotechnology and life sciences.

Head of ECS, Prof. Rutt, proudly introduced the Center’s unique strategy of investing in high-risk flagship equipment. The Center chose to acquire state-of-the-art equipment with unique and new capabilities instead of main-stream general purpose equipment available in the market.  As a result, the Center is now equipped with the following flagship equipment items: Joel JBX9300FS electron beam lithography system, Zeiss Orion helium ion microscope, Zeiss Nvision 40 focused ion beam lithography system, Leybold Hellios high precision sputtering system, Oxford Plasma Technologies FlexAl atomic layer deposition system, and a silicon epitaxial system.  For example, the helium ion microscope works as both a microscope for resolving fine structures and a nanofabrication tool for special materials.  For example, graphene needs to be fabricated, when using focused ion beam nanofabrication, by light-weight ions, such as helium ions, instead of heavy gallium ions typically used in FIBs.
Director Lu of Center for Contemporary China, Dr. Kevin Chung-Che Huang, Mr. Tsung Sheng Kao, a new graduate student just arrived from Taiwan, and Dean Yonhua Tzeng (From left to right) in a lunch reception at Southampton University.
The£100M Mountbatten Building, which is equipped with state-of-the-art clean rooms for nanotechnology and optoelectronics research.
The University has an Optoelectronics Research Center which is equipped with advanced optical fiber manufacturing equipment and related infrastructure.  The Optoelectronics Research Center is located side by side with the Nanofabrication Center.  The delegation met with doctoral students and research fellows who are conducting research in the Center.   Mr. Tsung Sheng Kao is a doctoral student from NTU-EE working on a joint project of his advisor in NTU and their collaborators in University of Southampton.  Dr. Kevin Chung-Che Huang is a research fellow having been working in the Center for several years.  University of Southampton has demonstrated itself to be an excellent collaborative partner with universities in Taiwan.  It matches well with the research strengths of NCKU and deserves special attention for further pursuit of effective collaboration.

Besides the Southampton Nanofabrication Centre (www.southampton-nanofab.com) and the Optoelectronics Research Center (www.orc.soton,ac.uk), School of ECS has the following Centers and Institutes: (i) ALADDIN-Autonomous Learning Agents for Decentralized Data and Information Networks (www.aladdinproject.org); (ii) EPrints (www.eprints.org) – created the first and most widely used archiving software (EPrints) which is used workwide by 355 know archives; (iii) IT Innovation Centre (www.it-innovation.soton.ac.uk); (iv) MailScanner – an open source e-mail security system developed in ECS by Julian Field, the School’s Postmaster (www.mailscanner.info/); (v) OMII UK – Open Middleware Infrastructure Institute UK makes Grid software (www.omii.ac.uk); (vi) PASCAL – Pattern Analysis, Statistical Modelling, and Computational Learning:  (vii) Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory; and (viii) Web Science  (www.webscience.org) –  a new discipline bringing together researchers and educators from computer science, engineering, the social sciences, health and the humanities to better understand the Web, engineer its future and ensure its social benefit.

Multidisciplinary research among academics in ECS Department and Music Department is another impressive model of research.  By joining forces of web science and data mining technology specialized by ECS academics with expertise of musicians, the music web science have been developed well beyond a simple combination of speech recognition and data mining with a musical database.  For music, the data might involve the sounds of many musical instruments.  It is like recognition of simultaneous speeches by many people with different accents speaking at the same time.  The close collaboration with music professors and ECS professors sets a good inter-college collaborative model and fits well with the new research trend of “digital economy”.

Besides collaborative joint research projects, I proposed to Prof. Rutt and Dr. Charlton a bilateral student exchange program for both undergraduate and graduate students from both sides to be involved in academic studies, cultural experiences, foreign language learning, and possible internship in industries in partner foreign countries.  Taiwan should be attractive to students of University of Southampton, especially when cultural visits and industrial internship in internationally renowned companies are part of the exchange program.  We all agreed to follow up with this potential collaboration and try our best to turn it into a sustainable systematic reality.

A remotely operated submarine in the National Oceanography Center at Southampton University capable of reaching 6000 meters below the ocean surface.
University of Southampton is the basis of the National Oceanography Center, which is funded by UK government at an annual budget of about £30M.  University of Southampton led a British scientific expedition that discovered the world’s deepest known undersea volcanic vents.  The Center operates three ocean vehicles including a quite new ocean research ship, James Cook, and a remotely operated submarine.  The deep sea submarine can get down to 6000 meters below the ocean surface to conduct research in life in unexpected places to give us insights into patterns of marine life, the origins of life on Earth and even the possibility of life on other planets.

The main research themes of the Center are on the south poles and the north poles as well as ocean geophysics and geology. The Center also operates a cold stock room, which keeps a large number of archived long samples taken by drilling into the ocean floor of different depths in various places of research.  These samples are kept in a refrigerated stock room to keep the original samples, which might contain certain unknown life.  Cross sectional analysis of these cold samples allow scientists to understand the evolution of the ocean floor through different years of deposition on the ocean floor.

Professor Yonhua Tzeng and Ms. Pin-Ru Huang in the National Oceanography Center at Southampton University.
Ms. Pin-Ru Huang, who earned her BS and MS degrees from the Earth Science Department of NCKU, is now a doctoral student at the National Oceanography Center working on pollution in ocean involving heavy metals.  Having met with a delegation from her home country far away from UK, Ms. Huang appeared to be very pleased and volunteered to serve as a technical interpreter during our visit of the Center.  Among subjects of possible collaboration, methane hydrate was discussed as an alternative energy source as well as an important substance of research related to the ocean geophysics.

The Center has published many papers in the journal Nature. With the unique capability in reaching deep ocean floors and places where normal ships can hardly get close, the chance of nature discovery is outstanding.  Taiwanese scientists are allowed to propose joint research projects in collaboration with the Center’s academics in order to explore ocean related pioneering research.  The return of investment for research projects using state-of-the-art equipment available in the Center is expected to be excellent.

University of Southampton has the fastest Microsoft Windows-powered £3M supercomputer in Europe for multidisciplinary research projects. The University has set up three doctoral training centers with £15M funding from the EPSRC: (i) Complex system simulation; (ii) Transport and the environment; and (iii) Web science.  These centers provide advanced training and research in response to the emerging needs of UK industry and society.

University of Southampton has many common aspects to that of NCKU (and some top universities such as NTU in Taiwan).  These universities have globally renowned research and teaching programs in electrical engineering and computer science as well as general engineering disciplines including ocean engineering.  The University has the largest School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) in UK, which was ranked 1st and 2nd in the UK by the 2010 Guardian/ Times University guides and ranks 6th in the world based on publication citations.  Among the strengths of University of Southampton, the general Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences ( ENG ) ranks 78-100th in the world.  In comparison, NCKU ranks 16th for its publications of SCI papers in the general engineering disciplines, including electrical and computer engineering, and 56th in the computer science.

Both NCKU (NTU, NCTU, etc., too) and University of Southampton (ranking 152-200th) are excellent universities, which make high influential impact to local and national industries and economy although rank behind top 100 universities in the world according to Shanghai Jiao-Tong University World University Rankings.   How to effectively develop a university which contributes the most to national and local economy and accomplishes the most interruptive and transformative science and technology for solving global problems is a grand challenge for all top universities in Taiwan.

Design & Layout : Ivan Tarn, The Banyan Editorial Office
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