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r. Jeffrey Chuan Chu spent a lifetime building and advocating
for stronger cultural, educational and business ties between the
United States and China.
A pioneer in computer technology and director of the board of BTU
International Inc. of Billerica, Chu died in June 2011 at the age of 91.
His passion has lived on through an ongoing partnership between Middlesex
and BTU, a global supplier of advanced thermal-processing equipment to
the alternative energy, solar and electronics markets.
"Dr. Chu was instrumental at a very early stage in bringing BTU to China,"
said Jolanda Creech, corporate support manager for BTU International (now a
wholly-owned subsidiary of Amtech Group). "He was a mentor to Paul van der
Wansem (Amtech Systems board director and former chairman and CEO
of BTU) and a lot of people in the company, and was very interested in
young people."
Upon his death, the BTU family searched for a way to honor the memory of
the man who had meant so much to them personally and to their business.
Chu's family suggested a contribution to the University of Pennsylvania,
where he earned his master's degree. But leadership at BTU was interested
in contributing to an institution closer to home.
"Very soon, we became aware of the Asian Studies Development Program
at Middlesex," said van der Wansem. "Here it was right in our backyard:
A program that helps students learn first-hand what China is all about, which
we knew would have appealed to Dr. Chu."
Dennis Malvers, MCC Dean of Advancement, said BTU's interest came at
an optimal time. Budget constraints were threatening the International
Education Fellowship to China. Started in 1993 by then-President Carole
Cowan, the China fellowship is supported by the college, as well as the
MCC Foundation.
The Dr. Jeffrey Chuan Chu Memorial Fellowship Program launched in
2012 and funded four of the nine student fellows who qualified for the
two-week trip to China.
"It's an amazing experience," said Malvers, adding that International
Education fellows participate in basic language, history and culture classes
prior to departure. And upon return, they are expected to share what they
have learned with the college community.
During their two-week stay, the students spent time in Beijing, visited the
Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, and toured a violin
factory. They visited the city of Xi'an, the rural mountain town of Jinan, and
Oufu, the birthplace of Confucius.
Then it was on to Shanghai, where they received the red-carpet treatment
from the 175 employees at BTU's Shanghai location. In 2014 another group
of students was able to travel to China, due in part to the financial
support of BTU.
"Many of these students have never traveled out of the region," said Malvers.
"We are grateful BTU is there for us every two years. They were looking to be
part of a life-changing experience for students and this is nothing less."
Van der Wansem said he initially expected BTU's contribution to be purely
financial, but company executives and employees have built a bond with
the students. In addition to touring BTU prior to their trip, after they return
students have made presentations about their China experience to BTU
executives and Dr. Chu's widow, Loretta.
"I was pleasantly surprised because not only have the students who went on
the trips been affected, but it seems there is so much side benefit of other
students learning from their experiences," he said.
Malvers and van der Wansem both said they are hopeful the partnership
between MCC and BTU will continue for many years, with an expectation
of the next China trip occurring in 2016.
"It brings us practically to tears that we did this after Dr. Chu passed away
and not while he was still here," said Creech. "We feel we could not find a
better way to remember him."
Jennifer Myers
BTU International
Supports Building
Strong Ties with China
Corporate Partnerships
BTU International's Peter J. Tallian, general manager, and Jolanda Creech, corporate
support manager, with Paul J. van der Wansem, Amtech Systems board director
(former chairman and CEO of BTU) helped establish the MCC-BTU partnership.