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SZ efficiency inspires German professor to pursue career in China

Georg W. Wimmer, a professor at Shenzhen Technology University (SZTU), speaks at a commencement ceremony at the university last month. Courtesy of SZTU

A view of Shenzhen Technology University.

Editor’s Note: Today, we are launching a new series of reports featuring expatriates whose stories embody Shenzhen’s spirit of openness, inclusiveness, innovation, and relentless pursuit of reform.

Georg W. Wimmer, a professor at Shenzhen Technology University (SZTU), has a deep understanding of Shenzhen efficiency and the city’s remarkable development over the years.

During a recent interview with Shenzhen Daily, Wimmer, from Germany, discussed the changes that he has seen in the city and attributed them to the city’s characteristic efficiency.

“During my first visit to Shenzhen, there were merely four Metro lines. But now, a line stretches to the university and more lines are planned to be built. The pace [of life in Shenzhen] is very fast, and things are done very quickly and efficiently,” Wimmer said.

As a teacher, Wimmer believes that students can be inspired to contribute to the city’s development.

Wimmer officially joined SZTU last October as a professor in the College of New Materials and New Energies. Previously, he worked as a research assistant and professor in German universities and gained additional experience in the U.S. and Canada.

Practical philosophy matters

During the commencement ceremony in June, Wimmer emphasized that SZTU’s practical educational philosophy greatly benefits students in launching careers or pursuing further studies.

Drawing from his personal experience, Wimmer shared, “It wasn’t until I started working for a company that I truly grasped how to apply the knowledge I had acquired in a practical work setting.”

Currently, SZTU has forged partnerships with industry heavyweights such as Huawei, Tencent, Baidu, and SF Express to offer specialized classes to eligible students. Moreover, the university has organized numerous internship programs to enrich the educational experiences of students.

Wimmer believes that incorporating internship programs into students’ college life can help them seamlessly transition into the job market early. From his perspective, this pragmatic philosophy resonates deeply with the local ethos.

“People from all over China come here in pursuit of the Shenzhen efficiency and strive for their dreams. People are trying new things. If you only do what you used to do in the past, you will not make a big difference,” Wimmer said.

Wimmer pointed out that pioneering research and novel products flourish in the city, a hub of technological innovation in China.

Teaching concept

As a foreign professor, Wimmer said that his primary aim is to foster a culture of innovative thinking among students by urging them to transcend conventional boundaries.

According to Wimmer, Chinese students are diligent and skilled in absorbing subject matter. He hopes they will use that knowledge as a starting point to think further and be more creative.

To provoke deeper thought, Wimmer employs a probing method in his classes, asking questions to stimulate critical analysis. “When I am teaching students something, I ask, ‘What about we change something?’ and ‘How can we solve this?’” Wimmer said.

Opening-up policy brings benefits

He sees himself as a beneficiary of China’s reform and opening-up policy, which has provided him with the opportunities to pursue an academic career in China.

“I can pursue my research much better with perfect conditions at SZTU. I broaden up my mind as I can learn more about Chinese culture,” Wimmer noted.

Recalling his first visit to Shenzhen in 2013, Wimmer said that the city was being likened to the tech hub of Silicon Valley in California, the U.S. Intrigued by this comparison, he embarked on an exploratory tour as a tourist.

After settling in Shenzhen, Wimmer became enthusiastic about the diverse activities the city offers, from beach outings to mountain hikes. He is particularly fond of the city’s well-maintained parks and excellent public facilities.

“The city’s public transportation system can take me to almost everywhere I want to go. People are also friendly to foreigners coming from elsewhere,” said Wimmer, who also expressed a strong desire to remain in the city.

Wimmer also mentioned the International Week event at SZTU as a good example of China’s unwavering commitment to further opening its doors to the world, fostering stronger international exchanges with a more open-minded approach.

The International Week event includes a range of international courses covering diverse fields, customized campus tours and corporate visits, a Bavarian Cultural Night, and a high-level International Forum, among others. Last year, over 70 international guests, including professors, scholars, and students, attended the event.

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