College of Engineering Receives Major Donations for Attracting New Faculty
As part of its ongoing strategy to attract top international faculty, NTHU has initiated various measures to supplement the salaries of teachers and researchers. In addition, several NTHU colleges have initiated their own measures for the same purpose, amongst which is the College of Engineering’s Shuren Fund, which beginning this year will provide a salary supplement of NT$20,000 per month for new faculty during their first two years at NTHU. On May 14 the College held a donation ceremony to acknowledge major contributions to the Shuren fund by C Sun Manufacturing, Gallant Precision Machining (GPM), and Gallant Micro Machining (GMM).
During the donation ceremony President Hocheng Hong said that C Sun, GPM, and GMM are unassuming stalwarts in the manufacturing of panels, chips, and semiconductors, respectively, and thanked them for making such generous donations despite the difficulties being caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Raising funds for bringing new blood to NTHU
In order to strengthen the recruitment and retention of top scholars from Taiwan and abroad, NTHU provides salary supplements of between NT$20,000 and NT$150,000 per month, in accordance with the related guidelines established by the Ministry of Education (MOE). To date, 532 NTHU faculty members have received salary supplements, amounting to 67% of the total number of teachers, one of the highest supplement rates in Taiwan; amongst newly appointed faculty, the rate is an impressive 70%. In addition, the MOE’s Yushan Scholar program and Yushan Young Scholar program provide an average salary supplement of NT$100,000 per month.
However, according to Dean Lai Chih-huang College of Engineering, even with these various supplements, the salary of a new assistant professor is still less than the salary of an assistant professor in neighboring countries, and is also less than what’s offered for many entry-level positions in domestic industry, making it difficult for Taiwanese universities to recruit new faculty. Moreover, assistant professors are most in need of salary supplements during their first two or three years, due to the relatively low starting salary and the difficulty of getting a major research grant from the Ministry of Science and Technology prior to setting up a research lab and a team of research assistants.
Pointing out the increasing difficulty of filling vacant faculty positions, Dean Lai said that of the College of Engineering’s 130 full-time teachers, 60% will retire within the next seven years, making it essential for the College to step up its recruitment efforts. This was the primary motivation for setting up the Shuren Fund, which establishes a link between new faculty and industry, and serves to “light a lamp which will shine bright for decades to come.”
At present, the monthly salary of an assistant professor at a national university in Taiwan starts at NT$60,000, and this can be supplemented with up to NT$40,000 from NHTU’s school-wide program (including an NT$10,000 housing subsidy), plus NT$20,000 from the Shuren Fund, making it possible to provide a beginning monthly salary of NT$120,000.
Industry answers the appeal for support
The Shuren Fund receives donations from both companies and individuals. The standard donation for a company is NT$1.5 million, which provides a monthly salary supplement of NT$20,000 for three new teachers for two years; the standard donation for an individual is NT500,000 which provides a monthly salary supplement of NT$20,000 for one new teacher for two years. The fundraising target for this year is NT$10 million, two thirds of which has already been received.
C Sun, GPM, and GMM have each donated NT$1.5 million, enabling the College of Engineering to provide the standard monthly salary supplement of NT$20,000 for nine new teachers for two years, each of whom will have a related title, such as the “C Sun Young Scholar.” The College has recently decided to provide the supplement to four incoming assistant professors: two in the Department of Power Mechanical Engineering, and two in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Prof. Chen Yu-bin of the Department of Power Mechanical Engineering was instrumental in arranging the donations from C Sun, GPM, and GMM, which form a business alliance. C Sun mainly produces industrial ovens used in the manufacture of panels and semiconductors, and has benefitted from Chen’s knowledge of thermal radiation furnaces in the areas of research and development and employee training. Thus when Chen was canvassing for sponsors for the Shuren Fund, C Sun immediately signed up. Chen said that in designing custom-made ovens for heating glass panels and other materials, C Sun previously relied on its master craftsmen to design ovens providing uniform heating without using lots of energy, but later began providing training to enable its engineers to quickly determine the infrared spectrum most suitable for a given material, greatly improving the efficiency of the design. Chen said that when he completed his doctoral degree at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2007 he decided to return to Taiwan to teach, even though at that there was little in the way of funding, prestige, resources, and doctoral students.
Also attending the donation ceremony were College of Engineering associate dean Lin Chao-an, College of Engineering associate dean Chen Hsin-lung, C Sun chairman Morrison Liang, GPM president Jason Chen, and GMM chairman Liang Youwen.
C Sun chairman Morrison Liang said that C Sun was established on September 28 (Teacher’s Day), 1966, next to a Confucian Temple, indicating the company’s high regard for the teaching profession. Thus C Sun was pleased to become a patron of the Shuren Fund, and is planning to continue providing support long into the future. Moreover, in his capacity as vice chairman of the Taiwan Printed Circuit Association and the Taiwan Electronic Equipment Industry Association, Liang has convinced several hundred of his colleagues to also support the Shuren Fund.
GPM president Jason Chen said that when he heard about the Shuren Fund it took him less than ten seconds to decide to sign up, adding that last year GPM joined Tsinghua’s international industry-university alliance, which has helped the company to find a number of specialists in artificial intelligence.
GMM chairman Liang Youwen said that when he learned that many outstanding professors of the baby boom generation are about to retire, and that the starting salary for assistant professors in Taiwan doesn’t compare to that of neighboring Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore, he realized that Taiwanese enterprises need to do their part to remedy the situation.
Liang Youwen, who is also the assistant chairman at C Sun, said that the cooperation between C Sun and the Department of Power Mechanical Engineering goes back quite a few years, and includes such areas as thermal conductivity, plane grinding, and visual algorithms, with the result that all of its key components are now made in Taiwan. As an example, he mentioned that two years ago C Sun received an order from an international mobile phone manufacturer to design an oven with a constant temperature of 450°C, which was successfully completed under the guidance of Prof. Lee Ming-tsang of the Department of Power Mechanical Engineering. He expects that in three to five years new teachers will become the backbone of industry-university cooperation.
Liang Youwen added that the combined donation of NT$1.5 million is just a start, and that he hopes to see lots of other enterprises follow suit in the near future.
C Sun, GPM, and GMM have each provided a major donation for the College of Engineering’s Shuren Fund.
Representatives of NTHU and C Sun, GPM, and GMM at the donation ceremony.
GMM chairman Liang Youwen (left) presenting a NT$1.5 million donation to the Shuren Fund.
GPM president Jason Chen (left) presenting a NT$1.5 million donation to the Shuren Fund.
NTHU president Hocheng Hong thanks Morrison Liang for C Sun's donation.