New university's vocational course keeps the wheels turning for BMW
Associate Professor Zhang Gengdang teaches students vehicle maintenance skills at the BMW internship base in Shanxi Vocational University of Engineering Technology. [Photo by Xie Jie for China Daily]
The newly established Shanxi Vocational University of Engineering Technology, based in Jinzhong city, quickly received an order from BMW China.
It was a long-term deal to recruit mechanics from the school each year.
The university was founded on March 24 after the merger of three colleges in the province: the Business College of Shanxi University; Shanxi Traffic Vocational and Technical College; and Shanxi College of Architecture.
As a result, the university inherited a course dedicated to training mechanics for BMW.
The course, called BMW internship base, is equipped with a variety of vehicles and testing and maintenance tools offered by BMW China, according to Zhang Gengdang, an associate professor in charge of it.
Zhang said BMW China has invested in 18 similar internship bases in China. The class, which began in Shanxi Vocational University of Engineering Technology, is the only such base in North and Northwest China.
The teacher said BMW China has offered high-tech equipment and a number of its latest cars to the course. One of the latest models is a fuel-cell hybrid vehicle.
"To keep up with the new development trends of the automobile industry, we have designed lessons for conventional gasoline-powered, electric and hybrid vehicles," Zhang said. "To master the skills for the maintenance of such models is challenging but rewarding for both students and teachers."
Zhang said the course enrolls about a dozen students each year, according to the requirements of BMW China.
"This is one of the most popular but highly demanding courses in our university. Candidates have to pass strict assessments by both the school and BMW before they are admitted to the course," Zhang said.
He said BMW China is deeply involved in the content of the class.
"In addition to equipment, BMW has designed the curriculum and dispatched teachers to the class.
"Upon the completion of in-campus training, students will have internship opportunities in BMW's plants and dealerships in China."
Zhang said this is a new model of vocational training, which features close collaboration between schools and enterprises.
According to Zhang Zhushe, Party secretary of Shanxi Vocational University of Engineering Technology, the school has similar innovations in its curriculum in a variety of majors. These include civil engineering, information technology and finance.
Zhang Mingdong, an official in charge of vocational education at the Shanxi Department of Education, said the university has set an example in how to train skilled professionals for the high-quality development of Shanxi.
"Vocational training should closely keep up with the trends of industries," the official said. "There should be innovations in curriculum design and school-enterprise cooperation to train professionals with both solid academic knowledge and hands-on skills."
Wu Jia contributed to this story.