Western Carolina University

ENGR 365 Global Engineering and Technology

May 18 – June 1, 2018

A Summer Travel Course to China in 2018
A P6 world-culture category perspective course with 3 credits
Open to all WCU students

Led by Dr. Yanjun Yan






The ENGR 365 travel course includes destinations in Beijing (北京), Shanghai (上海), Suzhou (苏州), and Chengdu (成都), across the northern, eastern and western parts of China, and from metropolitan cities to historical towns. The class will visit the top-notch companies in energy and manufacturing, the exoskeleton robotics lab and/or the intelligent vehicle lab, and meet the engineers and students in China. The class will also visit the famous attractions in the aforementioned cities to experience Chinese culture and appreciate its influence on the engineering and technology practices in China within the global context.

Join the 1st travel course in SET at WCU

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Meet engineers and students in China

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Experience Chinese culture of 5000+ years

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Advance in your career

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Open to opportunities yet to be revealed

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Earn 3 credits in P6 category

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Broaden your horizons

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Be one of the few students who study abroad!

Enjoy the world as your classroom!

Beijing TianAnMen Square Flag Raising Ceremony

China Datang in Beijing

Badaling Great Wall

Roast Duck

Forbidden City

Prince Gong's Palace with Grand Theater Building

South Luogu Alley

The Bund in Shanghai

Shanghai Museum

The People's Park in Shanghai

Shanghai General Motor

Shanghai Gold Dragon Fish Oil Experience Center

East China University of Science and Technology

Yu Garden

City God Temple

Suzhou Wu's Family Restaurant

Suzhou Museum

The Humble Administrator's Garden

University of Electronic Science and Technology of China

Panda Reservation Center

Sanxingdui Museum

Chunxi Road

Estimated Costs

Disclaimer: The budget below is a good-faith estimate of the costs incurred during this travel course of ENGR 365. The items can change as actual costs become known. We have given our best estimate, and we will do whatever we can to minimize the costs while maximizing your experience.

Note: If you qualify, these costs may be covered by financial aid. Talk to Ms. Jennifer Thomas and review the financial aid procedure document for more info.

Note: WCU reserves the right to cancel or alter the course format or to change costs as situations require.

Passport$135.00Student responsibility If you do not have a passport, apply for one at any postal office. Allow for 6-8 weeks (https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/information/fees.html). If you have a passport, make sure that it is valid until Nov 2018 (6 months from the day we leave USA). To get the best deal in flight ticket, you should have your passport ready in Dec 2017.
Visa to China$264.00Student responsibility WCU IPS recommends this trustworthy website https://www.passportsandvisas.com/ (it applies for a 10-year Chinese visa on behalf of you). You are free to use any other agent. The service fees may differ at different agents, beyond the consular fee of $140. Some visa is for one-year, which can be enough. Just be sure on what you are getting.
Airfare from AVL to PEK, and then CTU to AVL$1100.00Student responsibility The trip in China starts from Beijing (PEK) and concludes in Chengdu (CTU). You may leave and return USA at an airport of your choice, if not AVL.
Most meals$367.50Student responsibility Everyone's tastes may differ and you can choose your meals. The instructor will give recommendations for restaurants as we go.
Ethinic meals in group$80.00Pay to OneStopFood is an essential part of a culture and a few ethinic meals will be shared as a group. You are highly encouraged to give them a try.
Admissions and activities$170.00Pay to OneStopThe instructor will collect the fees and purchase tickets together to save time for the group.
Shared speaker fees$266.67Pay to OneStopAs a small token of our appreciation towards our speakers.
Local transportation per person$325.00Pay to OneStopFor subway and high speed trains, the instructor will collect the fees and reserve tickets.
Shared group transportation$103.33Pay to OneStopFor taxis, we will share as a group.
Lodging$360.00Pay to OneStopWe will choose the prime location in all the cities in the most affordable way: a youth hostel or airbnb with the best rating in town.
Travel insurance$150.00Pay to OneStopRequired by WCU, to cover any booking loss if this trip would be cancelled due to uncontrollable events. The insurance fee is not returnable.
Health insurance$21.30Pay to OneStopRequired by WCU.
WCU International Program Office fee$200.00Pay to OneStopRequired by WCU, to cover the administrative efforts of the IPS.
Faculty expenses per student$828.92Pay to OneStopFaculty travel cost if shared by three students. The instructor has waived stipend to lower the costs.
Tuition$0.00No charge for 3 credit tuition.

Potential Itinerary

The itinerary below is the latest plan representative of our intentions and is still under development. The listed speakers have agreed to meet with the class, but their availability in 2018 may change and we may change our schedule to accommodate their availability or even switch speakers. We may also move things around depending on the situations. Think of this as an idea of what the trip will look like, and the itinerary will be continuously updated when the plans are firmed up.

Beijing → Shanghai → Suzhou → Chengdu

# of daysDateDayLocationEvent/Speaker/Activity
15/18/2018FridayAVL or homeLeave for Beijing, China
25/19/2018SaturdayBeijingArrive in Beijing near evenining and check in at YHA Youth Hostel or an airbnb apartment.
35/20/2018SundayBeijingTour of TianAnMen Square with flag-raising ceremony
Tour of Forbidden City
Lunch at QingFeng Dumplings
Tour of Prince Gong's Palace with Grand Theater Building
Dinner of Roast Ducks
45/21/2018MondayBeijingVisit China Datang (Wind and Thermal Power Research Group)
If time permits, visit Heaven Temple with the Whispering Wall
Tour South Luogu Alley
55/22/2018TuesdayBeijingTour of Badaling Great Walls
Tour of Great Walls Museum
Watch a 360-degree movie of Great Walls
65/23/2018WednesdayShanghaiTake high speed train to Shanghai
Check in at Mingtown YHA Etour Youth Hostel, No.55, Jiangyin Rd, Huangpu, 200003 Shanghai, China.
Tour People's Park, Nanjing Pedestrian Street, and the Bund
75/24/2018ThursdayShanghaiVisit General Motor in Shanghai
If time permits, visit Gold Dragon Fish Oil Experience Center
85/25/2018FridayShanghaiVisit Shanghai Envision (Wind Power Assistance Software System Research Group)
Visit Huadong Science and Technology University, to attend a talk and chat with their students
95/26/2018SaturdayShanghaiTour Yu Garden
Lunch of juicy dumplings at City God Temple
Tour Shanghai Museum
If time permits, watch a show at Shanghai Grand Theater
105/27/2018SundaySuzhouTake high speed train to Suzhou
Check in at YHA Mingtown Suzhou International Youth Hostel. 28 Pingjiang Rd, PingJiang Lu, Gusu Qu, Suzhou Shi, Jiangsu Sheng, China, 215000
Tour The Humble Administrator's Garden and Suzhou Museum designed by Leoh Ming Pei.
115/28/2018MondaySuzhouBreakfast buffet at Wu's Family Restaurant
Visit local community
Relax at Suzhou Park, Central Park, and/or Lakeside Park.
Dinner of Su-style dishes
125/29/2018TuesdayChengduTake high speed train to Chengdu with a transfer in Shanghai. It takes a full day.
Check in at Heaven Pool Youth Hostel, 81 Xue Dao Jie, Jinjiang Qu, Chengdu, Sichuan Sheng, China, 610016
135/30/2018WednesdayChengduVisit UESTC (exoskeleton robotics lab and/or intelligent vehicle lab)
Visit exoskeleton spin-off company
Dinner at Chunxi Road
145/31/2018ThursdayChengduTour Panda Reservation Center
Tour Sanxingdui Museum
156/1/2018FridayChengduDepart Chengdu for home

Frequently Asked Questions


How do I apply?
The application is located in the bottom section of Application, where there are two Qualtrics survey links (the unofficial one goes to Dr. Yan directly, which helps Dr. Yan to know your background immediately, and the official one goes to WCU IPS, which is required for your admission into this travel course). A short interview will be arranged after Dr. Yan gets your unofficial application and you will be informed soon whether you will join this course.
When are the trip applications due?
The application is due on Jan 15.

However, the estimated costs are based on early booking (buying flight ticket in Dec or Jan, etc.), and the later it goes, the higher the costs will be. Meanwhile, booking flight tickets and train tickets requires your passport number. If you want to join this course, you need to get your passport ready by Dec, which means that you need to apply for the passport in Oct or sooner if you don’t have one yet. So you might as well apply for this course by Oct. You are highly encouraged to talk to Dr. Yan in person to make a decision on whether you can/want to join the travel course as soon as possible.

Is there an application fee to join this travel course?
No. Application is free. Still, apply for this course only if you really plan to go.
When will we hear back if we are selected to go on the study abroad trip?
Dr. Yan will review the applications and may invite students for a short interview. Following the interview, students will be notified about whether they are accepted to the course.
Is this class only for engineering and technology majors?
Definitely not. This class is open to all students interested in learning more about other cultures. Engineering and technology is ubiquitous in our daily lives, and its accelerated development in the last decade makes it even more relevant to everyone now than ever.
How many students get to go and how are they selected?
The course is generally capped at 10 students, who are chosen through an application process that includes academic criteria, a student questionnaire, and an interview with the primary instructor. Note that the proposed budget is based on 3 students. As long as 3 students are going, the trip will happen. When there are more students, the budget per each student will be lower.
Can I still take this class if...
Can I still take this class if I don’t go to WCU, if I’m graduating in May, or if I graduated already?

Yes, you can. You just need to apply to WCU as “transient student,” and there’s a $50 charge to the Admissions Office to do that. For more details, see the Admissions Office’s information about transient students. For WCU grads, your 92 number will basically be reauthorized for summer session and you’ll be registered/billed for the course just like anyone else. For non-WCU students, the process is a little more involved, but it’s mostly just paperwork.

Costs and Financial Aid (Pre-Trip)

I have a question about financial aid. Who do I contact?
Contact Ms. Jennifer Thomas in the student financial aid office
Email: jthomas@email.wcu.edu; be sure to email from your Catamount email and include your 92 number
In person: Stop by the financial aid office in Killian Annex and ask for Ms. Thomas
You can also review the Financial Aid procedures document to get more info
Are there scholarships available to help pay for the trip?
Potentially there are some study-abroad scholarships from multiple organizations, but at this moment there is no such scholarship (free-money) from WCU. One option is to check with WCU’s Office of International Programs Services (IPS). They have a list of common scholarships for which students may qualify.
When are payments due?
A $500 non-refundable deposit is required by the end of January. All remaining travel costs are due by mid-March (unless covered by financial aid; Financial aid payments are made 9 days before trip departure).
Is there a payment plan or do I pay all of the money upfront?
Details will be provided once the number of students is set. For money going directly to the school, you will pay $500 by Jan 30 and the balance by mid-March. Other funds will be paid in March & April, and airplane tickets will likely be bought in Dec, Jan, or no later than Feb. Your food money won’t be spent until you’re over in China.
To whom do I make the check out for the trip?
As the trip approaches, Dr. Yan will explain where payments should go. It is paid at OneStop.
What extra things will I need to budget for while travelling (e.g., food, gifts, etc.)?
The following are examples of items that have NOT been included in the budget:

  • Gifts – buying souvenirs for yourself or for others
  • Extra activities – what you do in your free time
  • Excess food or drink – an allowance of certain amount per day is included in the budget for meals. This covers basic eating in chain restaurants, but if you’re going out to mid-level restaurants (or better), or ordering more expensive drinks during dinner, you’ll go over the budgeted amount quickly.
  • Excess travel – The amount budgeted for travel will be enough to get you to/from all required activities. However, anything you do on your own time will need to be covered by you.

See the budget for a list of what is covered, which will help you determine what isn’t covered.

Course Contents

Does this course count toward liberal studies? As an upper level perspective?
This class counts as a P6 (World Cultures) course in the liberal studies curriculum.
This class counts as an upper level perspective (ULP) for non-E&T majors. For E&T majors (EE, ECET, BSE, ET), it only counts as a ULP if you’re double majoring in something else too, otherwise it does not count as an ULP.
Where does this count for the E&T degree?
All the E&T degrees requires a P6 course, and this class counts as a P6 (World Cultures) course. It does not count as a technical elective, nor a major course.
What are the course objectives?
The objectives of this course are aligned with the objectives of the Liberal Studies Program at WCU, as shown below. Upon completion of this course, the students will be able to

  • Gain factual knowledge about global engineering and technology practices. Collect, interpret and use information related to engineering and technology practices within local, national, and international contexts. Apprehend the impact of engineering and technology solutions in a global, economic, environmental, societal and global context.
  • Reflect upon the principles, generalizations and theories of global engineering and technology practices beyond United States. Articulate the importance of cultural disparities and similarities when developing engineering practices. Understand and is committed to address professional and ethical responsibilities including a respect for diversity.
  • Critically examine complex issues of a global nature in contemporary engineering and technology practices. Recognize contemporary issues. Understand the nature and importance of interrelationships and interdependence between and among individuals, countries, and regions.
  • Identify, formulate, analyze, and solve broadly-defined engineering and technology problems. Apply knowledge of global engineering and technology practices to prepare project statements with clear project goals and objectives. Analyze project requirements to propose potential designs, determine the available resources, and apply practical constraints.
  • Contribute as a member of a multidisciplinary team to create a project schedule and plan. Function on multidisciplinary teams effectively as a member or leader. Organize and participate in effective team meetings. Develop and document the solution to engineering design challenges as part of a team. Propose clearly-defined metrics to evaluate the performance of a solution.
  • Communicate in an engineering environment through technical writing, verbal communication, and delivery of presentation. Develop organizational and communication skills that facilitate active involvement in, and contributions to projects in a wide variety of disciplines. Apply written, oral, and graphical communication in both technical and non-technical environments effectively; and identify and use appropriate technical literature.

Please read the syllabus to learn more about the assignments and grading for the course.

What kind of school work is involved before the trip?
Before the travel, the students will meet about once a month in spring on logistics, orientation, and some lecturing. There will be reading (and related assignments) due before the travel so that students are prepared and will make the most of their time while traveling.
Please read the syllabus to learn more about the assignments and grading for the course.
What will be required of us while on the trip?
During the trip, the students are required to actively participate in all visits and cultural activities, take notes and photos during each visit, respect oneself and others, follow schedule and directions, and work as a team.
Please read the syllabus to learn more about the expectations of students while on the trip.
What does the post-trip work entail?
After the travel, the students will do case studies on chosen topics and a report on the materials collected before and during the trip. A comprehensive final exam that integrates course contents, similar to early assignments in format, will be given in the end.
Please read the syllabus to learn more about what is required upon the completion of the travel.

Credit Hours

How many credit hours will I receive for this class?
You will receive three (3) credit hours under the ENGR 365 course number.

The three credit hours of the ENGR 365 course are determined based on the contact hours and course contents. A student can not elect to receive zero or less than three credit hours by doing fewer or none of the coursework nor to receive more than three credit hours as there are no further coursework to warrant it.

Are the credit hours too few?
The ENGR 365 course is for three credit hours. We understand the common concern that if a student wishes to be eligible for summer financial aid, s/he needs to register for at least six credit hours of WCU courses in summer. After you register for another 3-credit course from WCU, you will be eligible for summer financial aid consideration. Note that the actual amount of aid depends on your financial need situation and please contact the financial aid office to find out your specific situation.
Are the credit hours too many?
With 3 credits from ENGR 365 in the P6 category, I plan to take more courses in P6 in the future or if I have already gotten some credits in P6, are there too many credit hours, especially in P6?

First, in terms of the 140 hour surcharge rule, summer credits are excluded (details at surcharge.wcu.edu). “2. Excluded are credit hours earned through: f. credit earned in all summer sessions;” You will never need to pay the surcharge for later courses due to any summer course.
Be aware, though, the automatic registration system sends out emails as soon as one’s total credit hours surpass 90 hours without removing the excluded courses. It is a staff member in the registrar’s office who does the exclusion manually, and please contact your adviser and the registrar’s office if you have any questions.

Second, in terms of the P6 credits exceeding the required 3 credits for graduation, more credits will only show your interests and efforts on world culture without hurting your progress towards graduation or in any other way. Your experience will be shown in the course titles on the transcript, and employers typically are very interested in and appreciate such unusual courses.


Will I need a passport and/or a visa?
Yes, you will need a passport and a visa to China.

If you do not have a passport, apply for one at any post office. The cost is $135 altogether (https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/information/fees.html). Allow for 6-8 weeks . If you have a passport, make sure that it is valid until Nov 2018 (6 months from the day we leave USA). To get the best deal in flight ticket, you should have your passport ready in Dec 2017.

WCU IPS recommends this trustworthy website for visa application (it has been used by WCU before, and they can help you to apply for visas to many countries): https://www.passportsandvisas.com/ (update: our students used this site and they provided very speedy service. Unfortunately this site no longer works). For a 10-year Chinese visa, the cost is $264 altogether. You are free to use any other agent. The service fees may differ at different agents, beyond the consular fee of $140. Some visa is for one-year, which can be enough. Just be sure of what you are getting.

What do you recommend we pack? How much?
We’ll talk about it as we get closer to departure, but…

Whatever you do, pack lightly! Plan to take a carry-on and a backpack – no checked luggage.

  • I can’t stress that enough (but I’ll try).
  • The website One Bag is a good resource that goes into detail about one-bagging it for trips abroad.
  • This YouTube video on bundle packing that shows how to get 16 garments into a carry-on.
  • Scan through Lifehacker.com’s packing-related posts to get more tips. Some are geared more toward frequent business travelers (like this YouTube video, which is way beyond my packing abilities), but the tips still might be helpful.
How much cash should we have on hand while in China?
In China, RenMinBi (RMB, or Chinese Yuan) is the official currency that is traded with US Dollars under restrictions. You can change USD into RMB easily, but it may not be as easy the other way around. In the estimated budget plan, the student responsibility in China includes your own meals. Some extra spending money is also recommended. The credit card you use at home, even the ones that are said to be accepted world-wide, may not be accepted at the local stores in China. It is recommended that you bring some USD, and exchange part of it to RMB to see how much more you need to exchange later, instead of exchanging all your cash at once.
Will I need to convert money to have on hand while in China?
There are many banks or kiosks to do monetary conversion while in China.
Will we be flying as a group or by ourselves?
  • We don’t include flight costs in the required payment to WCU OneStop (added in the budget, though, to give you an idea on the overall cost and allow it to be covered by financial aid) because of students taking different itineraries home, using frequent flyer miles, leaving from a different city, etc.
  • For the flight over, we will try to go as a group. Dr. Yan will provide students with the flight numbers as it gets time to book (around Dec or Jan). If you cannot fly with the group for some reason, talk to Dr. Yan and we’ll look at options for how to meet us there.
  • For the flight home, students will be encouraged to come back home together. Dr. Yan may stay behind in China for some more time, but she will accompany the student group to the airport for the departure.
How will the roommates be paired? / What will the living situation be like?
The lodging choices are made based on location, reviews and prices.

  • We will mostly stay in YHA Youth Hostels with best ratings in town at the prime location of each city, and we may choose an airbnb apartment with at least 3 rooms (for male students, female students, and faculty) and 2 bathrooms (for male and female) to save costs while experiencing the local community. The Youth Hostels are often booked by the number of beds in a big room of 6 to 10 beds with bunker beds. It will be safe, clean, well-maintained, and you will meet other travelers from around the world. The intended lodging options are listed in the potential itinerary, and you are welcome to check them out.
  • No coed roommates are allowed.
  • Given the small cap of this course in 2018 (3 to 10 students) and the big room with 6 to 10 beds in a youth hostel, all the male students are probably roommates, and all the female students are probably roommates. Otherwise, wherever possible, you will be given the option to choose your roommate(s) ahead of time. Those who do not have roommates in mind will have ample opportunity to meet others taking the course during the spring semester and will be able to match up accordingly.
What medical examinations/immunizations will I need before going?
None is required to join this travel course.

Please maintain your routine immunization, and you may also check out the Health Information for Travelers to China for more details.

Who are we going to be with in China?
We will travel by ourselves.

Occasionally we may have another faculty member from one of the universities we will visit accompanying us during the day. We will not join tours that are rushed by a guide.

Should I use a phone in China?
Needless to say, owning a phone in China will be very useful and give us all the peace of mind. So, how can you use a phone in China?

1. If you activate the international roaming service of your cellphone to use in China, you can maintain your regular phone number. However, it can be expensive. Please contact your cellphone provider to understand the terms and rates.

2. If your phone uses a SIM card that can be taken out to put in a new SIM card, or if you have a unlocked phone that uses a SIM card, you may purchase a local SIM card at the airport or in town in China. There are SIM cards that can be used for a month with certain amount of minutes, and you can purchase and load more minutes after that, if needed. The local SIM card will give you a Chinese phone number. You and your family can purchase a calling card to call each other for several cents a minute.

3. If you do not want to activate your roaming service in China and your phone does not use a SIM card (for example, the SPRINT phone uses CDMA without a SIM card, and the prepaid phones typically don’t use SIM cards), you may purchase a second phone that is simple and inexpensive (possibly in China) to use the local SIM card, only for voice-call or message purpose. Such a simple phone typically does not allow you to use apps such as wechat, and please still bring your regular phone to China to use apps with WiFi.

4. Out of google search, I found this website that said that phone-rental in China is possible. Note that we have not used this service and we do not endorse it.

If you decide not to use the cellphone service in China, please still bring your phone, as WiFi is widely available in China, and you can get in touch with your family and friends using the app, wechat, while in China.

Also, please keep the phone numbers of the instructor and the contacts at activities (which will be provided when the activities are confirmed), in case you ever need to use a public phone to get in touch with us.


Student questionnaire to the instructor

Click the link of this brief questionnaire to fill it online. It helps Dr. Yan learn more about you and your interest in the course. Once submitted, the data will go directly to Dr. Yan.
Please check out the student resources at the WCU IPS website:

Then fill out the online Qualtrics application form below. This is the official application form required by WCU IPS. Once submitted, the data will go directly to WCU IPS, and it will be forwarded to Dr. Yan (not instantly, but at regular updating periods). It is imperative that you fill both Qualtrics forms (the one that goes to Dr. Yan, and this official one).
Student Application for Travel Course

The information of this course on the Qualtrics survey is provided below:

Course prefix, number, and name (e.g., HESA 600 – International Education): ENGR 365 – Global Engineering and Technology
Course destination (city, country): Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, and Chengdu, in China
Course duration (e.g., 10 days): 15 days
Leading instructor’s name: Dr. Yanjun Yan
Travel Dates (mm/dd/yyyy to mm/dd/yyyy): 05/18/2018 to 06/01/2018

Note: In the space for your email address, use your @catamount.wcu.edu address. Also, do not leave the physician contact information section blank. If you have a regular physician, fill in their name, address, and phone. If you don’t have one, put in WCU Health Services at 828-227-7640.

Dr. Yan will review the applications and invite students for a short interview. Following the interview, students will be notified about whether they are accepted to the course. It is important to submit your applications as soon as possible. Of course, if you have any questions filling out the forms, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Yan.