Strategic Partnership Tongji University

Technical University of Darmstadt and Tongji University in Shanghai have enjoyed a cooperation contract and an agreement on joint projects in teaching and research since 1980. Since then some selective cooperations evolved into a broad and trusted partnership with regular meetings, consultations and numerous joint projects.

Today, the more than 40 year old cooperation comprises many departments of TU Darmstadt and includes all levels of the scientific career – from the student to the early career researcher to the full professor. The Tongji University in Shanghai is a strategic partner of the TU Darmstadt.

The Strategic Partnership with Tongji University is at TU Darmstadt affilitated to division International Relations & Mobility , which belongs to Department VIII – International.

Fundings for Chinese-German cooperations

There are fundings available for Chinese-German research cooperations (opens in new tab) .The Chinese-German Campus (CDC) of Tongji University is providing funds as well: Call for Proposals (opens in new tab) and Application Form (opens in new tab) .

TU Darmstadt and Tongji University organize for many years successfully a student exchange program between the two universities and all their departments. Furthermore, there are scholarship programmes that foster excellent students through internships and study stays in Shanghai.

The research collaborations are characterized by a long-term partnership and intensive exchange.

Studying abroad in Shanghai?

If you are student at TU Darmstadt and have a great mind for exchange studies, then you can benefit from our close partnership and go abroad at Tongji University. Discover the megalopolis at the Yangtse Delta, extend your intercultural abilities in the Far East and study at one of the top universities in China.

Please check the following website for important information about the requirements and the application process and for experience reports from other study:

Exchange Programmes

Come to (TU) Darmstadt!

You are student at Tongji University and think about to go abroad to study in Germany? Then consider and plan with us and apply now for exchange studies at one of the best universities in Germany. TU Darmstadt provides you with a high-quality study and research program in a variety of subject groups. Moreover you study and live in the high-performance Frankfurt/Rhine-Main metropolitan area at the heart of Europe.

The web pages of the Department of International Relations provide you important information regarding the requirements and the application procedure for incoming exchange students:

Studying at TU Darmstadt

Double Master's Degree Mechanical Engineering

The department of Mechanical Engineering of TU Darmstadt and the College of Automotive Engineering of Tongji University jointly offer a Double degree programme Mechanical Engineering. Students of both universities spend some time of their studies at the other university and receive after five semesters a master's degree of TU Darmstadt as well as Tongji University.

More information about the Double master degree Mechanical Engineering can be found on the information page for Double Degree Programmes as well as on the pages of the Institute of Automotive Engineering, which organizes the Double degree programme.

Double Master's Degree Materials Science and Engineering

The Double Master Tongji – TU Darmstadt in Materials Science and Engineering is research-based and builds on the competencies and skills acquired throughout a Bachelor degree course in Materials Science and Engineering (Tongji) or Materials Science (TUDa). BSc. graduates possess demonstrable study skills, basic grounding in both mathematics and sciences as well as a sound knowledge of the fundamentals of materials science, as taught during the BSc. degree course at both institutions. This M.Sc. program aims to enrich skills in Materials Science and qualify students to pursue a scientific career in all relevant fields.

More information about the Double Master's Degree in Materials Science and Engineering on the website of the Department of Materials Science.

Three TU Darmstadt departments jointly offer Dual doctorate degree programs with Tongji University.

Economics: A cooperation between the Department of Law and Economics at TU Darmstadt and the School for Economics and Management (SEM) at Tongji University.

German studies: A cooperation between the Department of History and Social Sciences at TU Darmstadt and the School of Foreign Languages at Tongji University. Further information on this program is available from the Institute for Linguistics and Literary Studies.

Civil and Environmental Engineering: A cooperation between the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at TU Darmstadt and the College of Civil Engineering at Tongji.

The doctoral candidates will be supervised by both institutions and the degree is recognized by both universities.

Digital Tongji Summer School 2021 at the Department of Mechanical Engineering

Digital Tongji Summer School 2022 at the Department of Mechanical Engineering

Interesting facts about the partnership

TU Darmstadt opened a liaison office at Tongji University in 2014. Since September 2019, Claudia Finner is in charge of this office. The aim of the liaison office is a greater sustainability of the cooperation projects, closer cooperation in general and the promotion of exchange between students and scientists of the two partner universities. The liaison office supports and coordinates existing collaborations and projects that started on personal connections of TU scientists. Other tasks are the increase of the visibility of TU Darmstadt at Tongji University, the establishment of an alumni association in Shanghai and the acquisition of new partners for economic and research collaborations.

Tongji University in Shanghai was founded 1907 by the German physician Dr. Erich Paulun as “German Medical School Shanghai”. Already its name signifies the special relationship to and intensive cooperation with Germany: Tongji means more or less “sitting together in one boat”. 1912 Tongji was extended to “Tongji German Medical and Engineering School”. The basis for the strong focus on technology till today was laid. 1924 Tongji receivd the status of a “National University” in Shanghai and in 1936 the “Association of German Engineers” (VDI – Verband Deutscher Ingenieure) acknowledged the degrees of Tongji University as international competitive.

The chaos of World War I in 1917, the Chinese-Japanese War 1927, World War II as well as the foundation of the People’s Republic of China had a lasting impact on Tongji University: Several times it had to change its location and several times it was extended with new disciplines and subjects, only to close them down a couple of years later. The critical decisions for today’s status of Tongji University were made after the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1978: Tongji University was expanded to a multidisciplinary university and restarted its traditional linkages to Germany.

Today Tongji University is one of the best-known research universities in the People’s Republic of China with a strong focus on engineering sciences. It offers 50,000 students (among them 4,000 from abroad) and 4,200 scientists a highly regarded learning and research environment. As top university in China Tongji is selected for all important excellence programmes and administered directly by the Chinese Education Ministry. According to the QS Ranking of Asian Universities Tongji ranks among the ten best universities in Mainland China.

Location Shanghai

Shanghai and the Yangtze Delta as location of Tongji University is the economically most important region in China. Around 40% of Chinese international trade run through Shanghai and 50% of foreign direct investment to China flow into this region. Numerous German companies and industry partners of TU Darmstadt are present in Shanghai.

In Shanghai there concentrate deep and dynamic transformation processes on a economic, technological and societal level in an exemplary manner. A close partnership with Tongji University opens up access for scientists of TU Darmstadt to these transformation processes and to important engineering and social research questions.

On 21 November 1980, TH Darmstadt entered the annals of Sino-German relations when the President of TH Darmstadt and the Rector of Tongji University Shanghai signed a general agreement to promote science in research and teaching. It was the first partnership between a university in the People's Republic of China and a university of technology in the Federal Republic of Germany – and the launch of a wealth of new contacts and joint projects.

But the relationship between the two universities actually goes back a lot further. Between 1916 and the end of the Second World War, Chinese students brought a little international flair to Darmstadt. At the same time, German scientists took the leap to East Asia and taught at Tongji University.

TU Darmstadt has maintained a partnership with Tongji University in Shanghai since 1980
TU Darmstadt has maintained a partnership with Tongji University in Shanghai since 1980

One of them was Erich Wilfried Reuleaux (1883-1967), Professor for Engineering at TH Darmstadt and University Rector in the academic year 1931/32. In 1934, he accepted a professorship at Tongji University. He became Dean of the Department of Engineering and an advisor to the Chinese government. He was particularly interested in the Chinese railway system and traffic challenges in vast spaces.

Return home

On his return to TH Darmstadt in 1937, several students from Tongji University followed him, among them the recently graduated civil engineer Li Guohao (1913-2005). Due to his excellent achievements, Li was immediately admitted to the doctoral programme. In 1940, he completed a doctorate with a dissertation on “Practical calculations of suspension bridges according to second order theory” under Professor Dr. Kurt Klöppel.

Li Guohao visiting the Reuleaux family
Li Guohao visiting the Reuleaux family

When the war made a return to China impossible, Li continued his research on bridge construction and statics at TH. In 1943, he completed his Habilitation. Through the air raids and their aftermath the Chinese expatriates suffered together with the German civilian population. Bombed out twice in Darmstadt, Li married his fiancée in Würzburg, and after the war made his way back to China with his wife and son, who was born in Marseille, via Saigon. There he became a professor at Tongji University in 1946, and was promoted to Vice Rector in 1956.

And what about Reuleux? Politically largely un-incriminated, he became TH Darmstadt's first post-war Rector in 1945, and thus continued to be an important contact for the Chinese students still stranded in Germany. In 1946, he resigned over a conflict about the re-employment of dismissed university staff.

The first steps towards cooperation

In 1966, the Chinese Cultural Revolution abruptly interrupted Li Guohao's fruitful scientific work. He was persecuted as a reactionary and obliged to undergo re-education. Satisfaction came in 1977, when he became University Rector. He was now charged with restructuring Tongji University and re-establishing partnerships with German universities. In March 1979, he visited 17 cities and more than 30 institutions in the Federal Republic of Germany before welcoming a German expert delegation to Shanghai six months later.

A visit by the German expert delegation to Tongji University in 1979
A visit by the German expert delegation to Tongji University in 1979

In a final joint report, Darmstadt-based Professor of Archaeology Dr. Heiner Knell and Rector Li declared their intention to collaborate. The following year, the first guest lecturers came from Shanghai to TU Darmstadt, Professor Gao Tingyao to the Institute for Water Supply, Waste Water Disposal and Land Use Planning, and lecturer Ding Shi-Zhao to the research group Information Processing in Construction. In 2010, Gao was made an Honorary Senator of TU Darmstadt.

The partnership today

Li, who became Honorary Rector of his university in 1984, received numerous awards for his achievements in science and science policy, among them an honorary doctorate from TU Darmstadt in 1985. The collaboration between Darmstadt and Shanghai has been burgeoning since the 1980s: architects, mechanical engineers, electrical engineers and mathematicians, social scientists and humanities scholars, construction engineers for traffic planning and earthquake-proof construction have all been driving exchange amongst researchers and teachers.

The “Semizentral” project at the “Urban Planet” pavilion, Expo 2010 in Shanghai
The “Semizentral” project at the “Urban Planet” pavilion, Expo 2010 in Shanghai

Two examples of many: Darmstadt Professor Dr. Hans-Christian Pfohl, expert for Business Management and Logistics, has been working at the Sino-German College at Tongji University since 1997. Many of his fundamental publications have been translated and are leaving their mark on the development of Chinese management terminology. In 2010, the partners took the stage together at the World's Fair: Professor Dr. Peter Cornel's Department of Waste Water Technology, exploring resource-efficient recycling systems for water supply as well as waste and waste water removal in mega-cities, and Tongji University's Institute of Environmental Science, presenting its project for a liveable, equitable future at Expo 2010 in Shanghai.

[text taken from History and Personalities of TU Darmstadt]

Year(s) Event
1934-1937: Darmstadt professor and former rector Erich Wilfried Reuleaux is dean of the department for technology at Tongji University.
1938-1946: The future Tongji rector Li Guohao writes his PhD dissertation and posdoctoral thesis (“Habilitation”) at the then TH Darmstadt and conducts several research projects.
1977: The cultural revolution comes to an end, Li Guohao becomes rector of Tongji University and promotes the international opening of the university.
1979: Visit of a delegation of Tongji University in Darmstadt and of a German delegation at Tongji University in Shanghai.
1980: Signing of a “General Agreement regarding the mutual promotion of scientific research and education” betwenn TH Darmstadt and Tongji UNiversity. It is the first cooperation agreement between a university in the People's Republic of China and an insitute of technology in Germany.
1980s: Start of collaborations in the fields of architecture, urban planning as well as traffic planning between Tongji University and TH Darmstadt, foundation of the Institute for German Studies at Tongji University and extension of the cooperation to humanities and social sciences.
1990s: Further extension of the partnership to the areas of automotive engineering, vocational education as well as linguistics and literature science.
1997: The TU Darmstadt professor Hans-Christian Pfohl holds a university professorship at the newly established Chinesisch-Deutsches Hochschulkolleg (CDHK).
2008: Summer school in Shanghai about Work Safety and start of the cooperation between the Institut für Baubetrieb of TU Darmstadt and Tongji School of Economics and Management.
2010: At the Expo in Shanghai the results of the joint BMBF-Project “Semicentralized supply and disposal systems for fast-growing urban areas” are presented.
2010: TU Darmstadt organizes a celebration of and exhibition about the 30-year long partnership between the two universities. The general cooperation agreement is renewed and several new cooperation agreements are signed.
2011: TU Darmstadt Day at Tongji University in Shanghai.
2013: The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) chooses the partnership between TU Darmstadt and Tongji University as well as the Thematic Network “Clean Water China and Southeast Asia” between TU Darmstadt, Tongji University and other universities in Asia for a funding program and supports each project for four years with means from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
2013: Tongji Day at TU Darmstadt
2014: Opening of the TU Darmstadt liaison office at Tongji University
2017: TU Darmstadt Day at Tongji Universität
2021: Digital Tongji-Days at TU Darmstadt

Professor Dr.-Ing. Li Guohao (1913-2005) war einer der Pioniere der Partnerschaft zwischen TU Darmstadt und Tongji Universität und einer ihrer maßgeblichen Gestalter. Gleichzeitig war er auch einer der bedeutendsten Brückenbauingenieure der Volksrepublik China und einer der wichtigsten Rektoren in der Geschichte der Tongji Universität.

Li Guohao kam 1937 im Alter von 24 Jahren aus Shanghai nach Darmstadt und promovierte an der damaligen TH Darmstadt. Unter Professor Dr. Kurt Klöppel erlangte er 1940 mit der Arbeit “Praktische Berechnung der Hängebrücken nach der Theorie II. Ordnung” den Grad eines Dr.-Ing. Da während des Krieges eine Rückkehr in seine Heimat unmöglich war, setzte er seine wissenschaftlichen Arbeiten in Darmstadt fort und schloss 1943 seine Habilitation ab. Nach Ende des Krieges kehrte Li Guohao dann aber nach China zurück und wurde 1946 Professor an der Tongji Universität. Bis 1956 stieg er zum Prorektor auf.

Ende der Kulturrevolution und Ernennung zum Rektor

Die chinesische Kulturrevolution unterbrach 1966 die fruchtbare wissenschaftliche Arbeit von Li Guohao. Er wurde als „reaktionäre wissenschaftliche Kraft“ verfolgt und zur Umerziehung verpflichtet. 1977 erfuhr er Genugtuung und wurde Rektor der Universität. Als solcher legte Li Guohao zwei Grundsteine für die Entwicklung der Tongji Universität und leistete wesentliche Beiträge zu ihrem heutigen Status: Zum einen öffnete sich die Tongji Universität für internationale Partnerschaften und nahm ihre traditionellen Beziehungen zu Deutschland wieder auf. Li Guohao ließ seine alten Kontakte zur TH Darmstadt wieder aufleben und 1980 wurde ein offizieller Kooperationsvertag zwischen TH Darmstadt und Tongji Universität unterzeichnet. Zum Anderen wurde der Ausbau der Tongji Universität von einer spezialisierten Universität für Bauingenieurwesen zu einer Technischen Hochschule mit breiteren Schwerpunkten in den Natur- und Ingenieurwissenschaften beschlossen. Dies war der Grundstein der Entwicklung der Tongji zu einer multidisziplinären Universität mit eigener Prägung. Nach Ende seiner Amtszeit als Rektor im Jahr 1984 wurde Li Guohao aufgrund seiner besonderen Verdienste zum Ehrenrektor der Tongji Universität ernannt.

Bedeutender Brückenbauingenieur in China

Li Guohao war aber nicht nur einer der wichtigsten Rektoren in der Geschichte der Tongji Universität, sondern auch einer der bedeutendsten Brückenbauingenieure Chinas. 1952 etablierte er die Fachdisziplin Brückenbau an der Tongji Universität und über die Jahre förderte und verbreitete er das Fach an der Tongji Universität und darüber hinaus. 1979 wurde auf seine Initiative hin die Zweiggesellschaft für Brücken- und Konstruktiven Ingenieurbau der Chinesischen Gesellschaft für Bauingenieurwesen eingerichtet. In den 1980er Jahren erlebte der Brückenbau einen stürmischen Aufschwung in China. Li Guohao war ein international angesehener Experte auf diesem Feld und an vielen namhaften Bauprojekten in China beteiligt.

Internationale Anerkennung für seine wissenschaftlichen und wissenschaftspolitischen Verdienste

Li Guohao hat für seine wissenschaftlichen und wissenschaftspolitischen Verdienste zahlreiche internationale Auszeichnungen erhalten. 1982 verlieh ihm die Bundesregierung von Deutschland die Goethe-Medaille und 1987 erhielt er für seine Verdienste bei der Förderung des kulturellen Austausches und der wissenschaftlichen Zusammenarbeit zwischen der Volksrepublik China und der Bundesrepublik das Große Verdienstkreuz. Die TH Darmstadt hat ihren Alumnus 1985 mit dem Ehrendoktortitel geehrt. 2005 starb Li Guohao im Alter von 92 Jahren. Anlässlich des 100. Geburtstags von Li Guohao und im Rahmen der Tongji-Tage 2013 zeigen TU Darmstadt und Tongji Universität im Juni 2013 eine Fotoausstellung über Leben und Werk von Li Guohao.