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Dr. Zhang Xiaoping and the Course "Computational Science and Career Planning"

Every Thursday night, there is a common scene in a large classroom of the 6th Teaching Building at Tsinghua University- a teacher up on the podium, speaking so eloquently with students who are completely fixed on the discussed topic. Laughter could be heard again and again. Yes, this is Associate Professor Zhang Xiaoping from the Department of Computer Science and Technology, and his course “Computational Science and Career Planning”.

 In 2010, Dr. Zhang Xiaoping found students majoring in computer science and technology “lacks direction and planning for their future”. So despite having already 4 courses, he designed and held the course “Computational Science and Career Planning”. Students have welcomed the popular course for the past 6 to 7 years and for 3 consecutive years; it has taken the top 5% from teaching quality assessments.

 The course “Computational Science and Career Planning” is one of the few courses with professional characteristics and career development at Tsinghua University. For the first half of the course, Dr. Zhang introduced the history of computer science so that students “have an idea about the industry in their heads.” In the latter part, professional direction came from various alumni including entrepreneurial personnel, scientific personnel, and IT elites etc. They gave the keynote speeches so that students could be inspired to think about their own future development. Dr. Zhang also arranged for extra-curricular activities outside of normal class hours. He said that the reason for a not too big class capacity is so that students could have more time for individualized studies.

 In Dr. Zhang’s mind, an education program that has both professional characteristics and career planning is something that is lacking at Tsinghua. The Student Career Development Center at Tsinghua University has offered a course called “Career Planning and Development.” However, due to limited class capacity, this kind of course still requires much improvement. Besides the Department of Computer Science and Technology, the School of Economics and Management,the PBC School of Finance and a few other schools have such course.

 With the rich experience in student working, Dr. Zhang has thought there are two points in a person’s development. One is awareness and the other is the point of explosion. The awareness point is when a person understands the direction for his own future while the point of explosion is when a person welcomes in fresh opportunities. “The more earlier the awareness, the better it is,” said Dr. Zhang. So his course was set up in the hopes to inspire students to think, self-design, self-shape, self-drive and self-motivate.

 In addition, Dr. Zhang also added in his own idea to the educational philosophy of Mr. Jiang Nanxiang who once served as the president of Tsinghua University. He said that in addition to teaching students knowledge and methodology, there is also a need to guide them so that students can find their own “lighthouses” and a life-long direction for long-term self-motivation. The task of education is not to fill the students with water but to light a fire in their hearts.

 The 2015 class undergraduate Wei Junyu from the Department of Computer Science and Technology thought highly of Dr. Zhang and his course, “it is very hard to find someone like Dr. Zhang keeping good communication with students. He is great at giving lectures and offers great exchanges with students.” More than one student shares such sentiments. But Dr. Zhang is dissatisfied with this, and he plans to improve the course so that students are inspired to have more in-depth thinking about their own development.

Note: This article was adapted from the website: