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Australia, the magazine : Australia, the magazine
tertiary education 42 Dr Zhengrong Shi began his PhD in Electrical Engineering in 1989, doing research in the ground- breaking photovoltaics laboratory led by Martin Green and Professor Stuart Wenham at the University of New South Wales. He established Suntech in 2001. Between 2001 and 2008, the global solar industry averaged 41 percent growth year-on-year. "He was the right person at the right spot at the right time to move in both Chinese and Western cultures," Professor Green has said. As Suntech grew, so did Shi's determination to fortify his relationship with the Australian solar industry and with UNSW. This has culminated in several successful joint research efforts and agreements between Suntech and the university, all with the aim of developing cutting-edge solar technologies. Both organisations have mutually shared the benefits of their technology breakthroughs. In 2006, for example, Suntech set up a collaborative research agreement with the Centre of Excellence for Advanced Silicon Photovoltaics and Photonics at UNSW, which included a AU$1.5 million contribution from Suntech to the university. "Through our unique collaboration, UNSW students and staff are involved in the complete technology develop- ment process, and we are able to transfer new solar technologies to commercial production in a relatively short time," Dr Shi said. The network is hard at work here. Dr Shi's former professor Stuart Wenham is now Suntech's chief technology officer and has played a critical role in the development of Suntech's new Pluto technology. Dr Shi credits much of his success to his UNSW contacts. "Had it not been for the vision, dedication, and exploration of some of my Australian academic colleagues and mentors, and the atmosphere of innovation provided by UNSW, I would not be at the head of a global solar energy company today," he says. home with the bene t of education experience in Australia, Australia gains an ambassador for life. e enhanced understanding developed through these links sees both our countries prosper." According to prominent Malaysian doctor, Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman, "the achievements of many Malaysian alumni of Monash have enabled the emergence of a Monash network in Malaysia. is will be potentially invaluable for Monash alumni in Malaysia and elsewhere." Now the Australian Government is working to increase this important dimension of a rst rate education even further. As part of Australia's 'Education Revolution', the government is implementing a new international scholarship program called the Australia Asia Awards (AAA). is program is reminiscent of the Colombo plan, which originated in 1950 and brought more than 40,000 Asian students to Australia to complete their degree. Many future leaders were born out of the program, including Dato Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysia's Minister of International Trade and Industry. "My education in Australia was a turning point in my life," Dato Mohamed says. "I met people from di erent backgrounds and shared in their cultures and ideas. I o en nd myself drawing on these experiences in my engagements with government and industry leaders from all over the world." Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said recently that education is "the single most important ingredient for success in the economies of the 21st century. It promotes understanding requiring us to look beyond the narrow shores of prejudice. It fosters tolerance, and through tolerance, harmony." e new program will aim not only to provide recipients with a world class education, says Mr Rudd. "A highly prestigious alumni program will be developed to deepen the experience for the AAA awardees to help maintain their connection to Australia over the long term." e network and the success stories it generates looks set to continue. DR ZHENGRONG SHI -- THE SUN KING Dr Shi continues to give back. In 2007, he pledged to sponsor 30 Chinese students, including Suntech employees, to study a Masters in Photovoltaics at UNSW. In July last year, he donated AU$2 million dollars from his family charitable foundation to create the first major installation of the solar cell technology in Australia. It will be used to construct Australia's largest- capacity rooftop solar panel array at the Sydney Theatre Company's Walsh Bay building. From my Australian education, I learned a lot about persistence. Most problems worth solving require radical solutions that are not created overnight. But with persistence, anything is possible.