In 1922, Tsinghua School set up a hand-craft course, later renamed hand-craft center. At that time, the hand-craft course was a compulsory and important course, one that also marked the beginning of the practical teaching of Tsinghua’s engineering course. The decades that follow saw the practical components of the Engineering curriculum altered and improved several times. In 1996, the Fundamental Industry Training Center of Tsinghua University was established to provide a practical teaching base for engineering as well as the place for innovation and the training of advanced technology. From 2014, it became the i.Center- a space for creation that only belongs to students of Tsinghua University.
In fact, the full upgrade from Fundamental Industry Training Center of Tsinghua University to i.Center is not just in the name. It was due to the concept of Tsinghua innovation and entrepreneurship as well as the large-scale integration of resources. It was also in response to the growing enthusiasm that Tsinghua students have towards innovation and entrepreneurship in recent years.
In September 2013, the Students Maker Creative Space of Tsinghua University was established. Maker/Hacker means people who try their hardest to develop and make an idea into reality. People who are both innovators and entrepreneurs are part of the Tsinghua campus and with a spirit that embodies openness and cohesiveness as well as a focus on entrepreneurship and teamwork, they place great emphasis on turning their dreams into reality. In a short time-span, more than 300 students from all sorts of majors directly contributed to the upgrading of the training center to i.Center. This “I”, contains several layers of meaning, it refers to the industry-level found in providing such conditions for the student as well innovation, internationalism, inter-disciplinary, integration and “I” which aims to strengthen the student’s own autonomy. i.Center introduced “Hackers in Residence” and established a creative space which fast became the favorite venue for Tsinghua’s many students and guests.
i.Center retained many of the courses, lectures, activities and services accumulated from the “training center” period. The center is constantly updating equipment so that it will continue to create a favorable environment for innovation as well as offer great services for interdisciplinary integration. Now, the 100,000 square meters i.Center is filled with hundreds of milling machine, as well as 3D printers, 3D scanner tools for the Makers to use. There are more such as laser cutting machine, three coordinate measuring machine, high precision powder type 3D printers, robots etc. there is also the “music box”, a 100 RMB wooden box which when connected to your iPad, it can become musical instrument such as the piano or guitar. There is also the “tree” which is a moving flowerpot; it moves automatically to receive maximum sunlight. i.Center, as the incubator allows makers to pursue their designs and various teams to realize their dreams.
There are many departments that support and help students with their entrepreneurship and innovation. Apart from i.Center，there is also x-lab, future interest teams, Art workshops and much more. They all encourage Tsinghua students to innovate and to pursue their dreams. So far, they have supported many excellent teams. A little while ago, seven makers wrote a letter to Premier Li Keqiang, introducing the current scenes of Tsinghua’s creative innovation and entrepreneurship and at the same time, expressing the active role, desire and determination that students must and can play in public entrepreneurship and innovation. On May 4th, 2015, Premier Li wrote back: “Society will come alive when young people are willing to start their own ventures. Our country will become vigorous when young people are full of innovative ideas……I hope that you will continue to enrich the Maker culture and help the seed to spread and grow.” Tsinghua is currently developing an eco-system so that more students could participate in such innovative and educational activities.