Zen Zuh Li (MIT '22), Kwe Pau Ting (MIT '23), Chung Wei Chen (University of Illinois, Urbana, '21) and Tsung-Be Tsang (MIT '23) aboard the SS Nanking in 1919, bound for the US. Photo courtesy Lillian M. Li.

Zen Zuh Li (MIT '22), Kwe Pau Ting (MIT '23), Chung Wei Chen (University of Illinois, Urbana, '21) and Tsung-Be Tsang (MIT '23) aboard the SS Nanking in 1919, bound for the US. Photo courtesy Lillian M. Li.

Celebrating THE 140TH ANNIVERSARY OF CHINESE STUDENTS AT MIT

exhibit on display AT MIT'S MAIHAUGEN GALLERY february-NOVember 2017 

 

为纪念早期中国留学生来麻省理工学院学习140周年,「麻省理工学院早期中国留学生:1877-1931」展览将于2017年2月至11月,在麻省理工学院图书馆举办。

Maihaugen Gallery, Bldg 14N-130, 160 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA, USA Open Monday-Friday, 10am to 4pm


 

"The Institute is justly proud of the splendid part which her graduates have played in the New China and is happy to be of service in the further training of the young men to whom will come the opportunity and responsibility to organize the resources of this great sister republic, especially in science, engineering and business administration."               --  KARL T. COMPTON, MIT President, 1930     

 
Se Chung Tyng, ca. 1872. 2--2-40. Thomas E. LaFargue Papers, courtesy MASC, Washington State University Libraries.

Se Chung Tyng, ca. 1872. 2--2-40. Thomas E. LaFargue Papers, courtesy MASC, Washington State University Libraries.

In 1877, the first student from China matriculated at MIT. By 1910, China was sending more students to MIT than any other foreign country. From these beginnings, the Institute became one of the most popular destinations for Chinese overseas students, especially those seeking to contribute to their country’s modernization through engineering, science, and commerce. Between 1854 and 1954, a pivotal century in China's modernization, MIT awarded 734 degrees to Chinese students, the third highest number of any American university. As Course XIII student FT Yeh (Class of 1914) declared:

The future of China depends on the quality of the men who are receiving their education. These now come mostly to the United States, there being a thousand such students here, and the Institute is the favorite place for those desiring scientific training. (The Tech, March 26, 1914, 3)

Harboring a dream of "saving China through science and technology," these trailblazing students went on to make vital contributions to China's development. MIT's Chinese alumni produced numerous inventions, from the world's first Chinese typewriter to the Model C training seaplane, and pioneered work in fields from microwave spectroscopy to nonlinear control theory. Equally important, they helped to promote American understanding of their homeland and its people, leaving behind a legacy of strong ties between China and “Tech” (MIT) that profoundly influenced the course of globalization. 

Many today stereotypically associate Asians with STEM -- but the early students from China had to fight skeptics who considered Chinese incapable of first-rate science and engineering. "CHINA COMES TO TECH: 1877-1931" -- an exhibit at the MIT Libraries' Maihaugen Gallery -- tells their story.


1877至1931年间,有将近400位中国留学生来到麻省理工学院。这些留学生把习得的科学与技术新知带回祖国,对于中国当时快速的现代化有关键性的影响;同时他们也扮演“文化大使”的重要角色,促进了美国对中国与中国人民的了解。早年从麻省理工学院毕业的归国留学生有许多重要的发明,包括世界第一座中文打字机与C型训练海行飞机。开创性的科学专研包括微波波谱学与非线性自动控制理论。早年的中国留学生为麻省理工学院和他们的祖国之间建立了深厚的关系,也加速了全球化的进程。

根据麻省理工学院的记录,早在1877,年有一位来自广东香山县(今中山县)的留学生,张文湛,被录取麻省理工就读机械工程。其后,有八位清廷官派赴美幼童留学生也随着进了麻省理工。可惜他们因清廷在1881年提前召回官派留美学生, 因而不得已退学返回中国,张文湛也跟随返华。再过几年,有一批广东省官派留学生在1904年来到麻省理工。其中有两位, 谢作楷和温宗禺,于1908年获得采矿工程系的学士学位,算是麻省理工最早获得学士学位的中国留学生。随后在1909年,福建省的沉颋清(沈葆祯的孙子)也获得造船工程系的学士学位。从此之后,麻省理工在中国的声望越来越高,尤其是庚子赔款奖学金设立之后,就读麻省理工的菁英中国学生一年比一年多。庚款的第一批留学生共有47人,当中有以下13位就读麻省理工:张准,陈晃, 陈庆尧,陈兆贞,贺懋庆,邢契莘,徐佩璜,罗惠侨,戴修陶,曾昭权,范永增,吴玉麟和袁钟铨。这些庚款留学生在麻省理工开创了许多记录:1915年,周厚坤成为全美第一位获得航空工程硕士学位的学生;1920年,周铭和叶玉良两人成为最早从麻省理工获得博士学位的中国学生;1928年,顾毓琇成为第一位从麻省理工获得科学博士学位的中国学生。除了官派留学生之外,也有自费留学生赴美进入麻省理工就读,因此,到了1910年,中国学生占了麻省理工的国际学生的最大比例。那年的四月,有一群中国留学生设立了麻省理工的中国学生会。早期的中国留学生也积极的参与了各种学生活动,包括运动团体,戏剧音乐团体,辩论比赛,等等。为了推广美国人对中国的了解,中国学生会每年举办一次“中国之夜,”邀请老师同学们一起听演讲,看表演,吃中国点心。中国学生会也捐了几百本中文书给麻省理工图书馆,为了我们今天麻省理工中文系打下基础。

麻省理工早期的中国留学生多数来自粤苏两省,另外也有福建, 浙江,河北,湖南,安徽,江西,湖北,山东,四川, 河南,山西,云南,广西,和辽宁省的学生,甚至有出生于美国,澳洲,夏威夷,新加坡的华裔学生。例如生长于波士顿唐人街的梅连枝,于1916年考进麻省理工的机械工程系。早期的中国留学生几乎都是男学生。 1877至1931年间,只有一位来自中国的女同学,李励绂女士考进麻省理工。她是当时美国第一位念电子工程的中国女子,美国报纸竞相刊载。为了“以科技救国”,麻省理工早期中国留学生多数就读电子工程,机械工程,化学工程,土木工程,造船工程,与采矿工程,以配合中国现代化的需求。

据华东师范大学历史系教授冯筱才所说:"中国留学生,最早是在晚清政府推动洋务自强运动的浪潮中来到美国的。"随着1909年清华留美预备学校的创建,中国学生迅速成为MIT人数最多的外国学生群体。这些学生大多数都是从中国各地通过考试被精心选拔出来的,他们抱着学习西方工业技术的理想,成为MIT的重要成员。他们在此不但学习新型科学知识,也成为早期中美文化教育交融的见证人。在这里列出的中国学生,学成之后,无论是返回中国服务,还是留在美国,或去了其他国家,绝大多数都服务于科技、教育、行政等领域,表现出其卓越才能,在二十世纪人类科技迅速发展的过程中曾经扮演了重要角色。这些MIT的中国学生,后来也成为促进中、美两国科技与教育交流的重要力量,其精神值得后人铭记在心."

若您想更进一步深入的了解, 欢迎您来参观我们的展览。


The exhibit, and this companion website, draw inspiration from a document held in the MIT Archives and Special Collections: the MIT Chinese Students Directory: For the Past Fifty Years was published in 1931 by the MIT Chinese Students’ Club, with support from President Karl Compton. Chronicling the history of their first half-century at the Institute, this booklet had two aims: to provide prospective Chinese students with a picture of student life at MIT; and to foster "the Tech spirit in China," compiling data on alumni to consolidate a network of MIT-trained engineers and scientists as a vital resource for China's national reconstruction.

Following the Directory, the story we tell focuses on the years 1877 to 1931, while the term "Chinese" encompasses both students born in China as well as students of ethnic Chinese heritage, some of whom were born in the US, Hawaii, Australia, or elsewhere. Chinese names are furthermore given as recorded in the Directory, which means that they are often romanized based on regional pronunciations (especially Cantonese), rather than standard modern Mandarin. We hope that this exhibit and website will serve as one example of how archival documents can help to bring the past alive.