Harbin Engineering University (HEU) traces its origins to the PLA Military Engineering Institute that was opened in 1953. It lost its connection to the army in the 1960s and was renamed Harbin Shipbuilding Engineering Institute in 1970, eventually becoming HEU in 1994.
Located in the Nangnag District of Harbin, HEU has 40 teaching and research centres and institutes, including a National Science Park. It is well-known for its work in marine and nuclear science and for its role in the first experimental submarine, hydrofoils, carrier-based computers, the duplex type submarine, the hovercraft, and the gradient sound velocity profiler.
HEU offers over 150 courses across 21 colleges/departments. They are: automation; underwater acoustic engineering; computer science and technology software; national secrecy; mechanical and electrical engineering; information and communication engineering; economics and management; material science and chemical engineering; science; foreign languages; humanities and social sciences; international cooperative education; nuclear science and technology; physical education; industrial training centre; national defence and ideology and political theory teaching.
A substantial proportion of courses are conducted in English and the university prizes its international co-operation. It set up the College of International Co-operation in 2003 and works with institutions including the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Sydney and the Far Eastern National University of Russia. HEU funds to benefit from working abroad and students can participate in exchange programmes. Meanwhile, of the university’s 1,200 international students there are nationals of Canada, Korea, Russia, Japan, Pakistan, Thailand, Nepal, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
HEU has a total of 27,000 students, including 14,000 undergraduates and 8,000 postgraduates). They have access to a range of facilities including a shopping centre, an entertainment centre, a hospital, a recreation centre and a bank.
It is a "Project 211 university", singled out by the Chinese government to help raise research standards and also has a "Double First Class" status with the Chinese ministry of education in their initiative to develop a group of elite institutions.