Source: Dr. Charles W. Tu (IEEE Fellow; Department of Electrical Engineering, National Chung Hsing University)
In 2018 I retired from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), after 30 years of service. Not knowing this, President Fuh-Sheng Shieu visited me upon the recommendation of Professor Wood-Hi Cheng and proposed to apply for me the Yushan Fellow Program of the Ministry of Education. I consented and, fortunately, was selected as a Senior Yushan Fellow.
The Yushan Fellow Program aims to attract overseas junior and senior researchers to Taiwan to enhance Taiwan's research capability and visibility by providing additional stipends to their salaries and some administrative funds. However, strengthening the research level takes years and collective work to be apparent.
Drawing on my ten years of experience as an Associate Dean of the Jacobs School of Engineering, I decided that this collective work would be a center that provides seed funding to interdisciplinary teams of faculty members for them to obtain preliminary results. Then they can submit a competitive proposal to national agencies, such as the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), for a large, multi-year grant.
►The ENABLE Center holds 3 project-sharing meetings a year, in addition to the international symposium in December. During the pandemic, the meetings are online.
Since NCHU started as an agriculture school more than 100 years ago, the research caliber in agriculture and biotech is powerful. Therefore, I proposed to call this new center ENABLE--ENgineering in Agriculture and Biotech LEadership. I hope that the research in physical sciences and engineering, through ENABLE, will have a distinct NCHU flavor with agriculture and biotech. I donate 2 million TWD a year, 80% of my Yushan Fellow stipend, and President Shieu agrees to match 8 million TWD. The ENABLE funding is also open for people in the Humanities and Social Sciences. After all, the matching fund is from the University.
With 10 million TWD a year, the ENABLE Center provides one-year seed grants from one million to one and half million TWD to 8 teams where the Co-PIs are from at least two different colleges. Before the call for proposals, there is a match-making event, where faculty members from physical sciences and engineering talk about their capabilities and those from agriculture and biotech talk about their need for various technologies to facilitate their research. The projects can be found at https://enable.nchu.edu.tw/. I find it most satisfying when professors say that their collaboration is only possible with ENABLE.
The Senior Yushan Fellow Program is three years and renewable for another cycle. For my renewal proposal, the i-Center for Advanced Science and Technology tallied in the new research grants from ENABLE projects. The result is gratifying: with a 20 million TWD investment in two years, the ENABLE faculty members have generated 40 million TWD grants to NCHU.
Yushan Fellows are also expected to help increase international exchange or collaboration through their global networks. We have invited professors from UCSD and others to be keynote speakers at the annual ENABLE symposium, where the Co-PIs give progress reports on their ENABLE projects. I have also facilitated NCHU faculty delegations to visit UCSD.
►Please refer to QR code about YuShan Scholar Program-Prof. Charles W. Tu.
Another success is sending Dr. Chun-Nien and a student to UCSD for two months each. Now an assistant professor, Dr. Liu returned to NCHU with a new idea for a laser-beam scanning device without moving parts. He has obtained funding from NSTC and the industry for solid-state LiDARs for self-driving cars.
2023-2024 is the fifth year of the ENABLE program, which means that we have given seed grants to 40 teams with 80+ faculty members and 100+ students. International collaborations with UCSD are continuing. I feel fortunate to be a Yushan Fellow, contributing in some way to research in Taiwan.
►The annual ENABLE Center Symposium is now held jointly with the UCSD-NCHU Joint Symposium and the Innovation and Development Center of Sustainable Agriculture (IDCSA).