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Thursday, August 15, 2013 - OU professor brings expertise to Chinese university
By Kathleen Williams, contributing writer

Dr. Laila Guessous with her son Adam at Nanhu Park.
Dr. Laila Guessous was warmly welcomed by a round of applause before her first lecture of the summer semester. 

“I walked into the classroom and the students just started clapping — they told me they had waited eagerly for their new American professor,” she explained. 

This summer, Dr. Guessous, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, became the first professor from Oakland University to teach at Changchun University of Technology (CCUT), located in the Jilin province of China. 

While at CCUT, Dr. Guessous taught a core undergraduate engineering course, EGR 250, which covers thermodynamics and heat transfer. Enrollment for the class was 135 students. 
 
Oakland and CCUT developed a joint undergraduate program in 2012 designed to focus on the global aspects of engineering and encourage international experiences within the field. Students from CCUT have the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree from both universities after spending their first two years taking courses at CCUT and transferring to Oakland for their final two years. 

Future plans include the expansion of the program to include a joint Master of Science degree and increased research collaboration between faculties. 

“This program will increase diversity at the undergraduate level,” Dr. Guessous said. “When students enter the real world, they’ll be working with people from very different backgrounds and we’re further preparing them to respect cultural similarities and differences.” 

Dr. Guessous believes the educational agreement will expose both sets of students to different ways of thinking and approaching problems.

“The Chinese education system produces students who are very strong in math and physics, but they are often confined to solving problems in a certain way.” 


“The American education system is a bit more flexible and encourages creativity. Both groups will discover new ways of learning,” she said. 

The first group of students enrolled in the program is scheduled to transfer to Oakland in the fall of 2014, just in time for the opening of the new Engineering Center. 

“We’ll be getting an influx of high achieving students,” Dr. Guessous said. “In addition to our curriculum, we’ll have new facilities that will help the department attract and retain future engineers.” 

For more information about the CCUT-OU mechanical engineering program, contact professor Gary Barber at (248) 370-2184 or barber@oakland.edu, or professor Lian Yang at (248) 370-2283 or yang2@oakland.edu. 

To learn about additional opportunities offered by the department of mechanical engineering, visit the website

Find out more about Oakland faculty members traveling this summer at oakland.edu/summertravel.

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with nearly 20,000 students and more than 260 degree and certificate programs. To learn more about academics, achievements, and events at OU, visit the news site at oakland.edu/newsatou and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.