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An Investigation of the Perceptions of Gains from Undergraduate International Exchange Programs: The Tale of Atlantis

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Study Abroad, International Exchange Programs, and Student Engagements

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

22.190.1 - 22.190.23



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Paper Authors


Donal McHale Dublin Institute of Technology

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Donal McHale is an academic staff member in the College of Engineering and Build Environment at the Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin Ireland. Donal's background includes 16 years in transnational Engineering and Engineering management roles in
the mass-media products sector. Holder of an M.B.A. and B.E. from the National University of Ireland, he is co-principal investigator of a Transatlantic Dual Masters Degree project (STiMasters) and a Excellence in Mobility project (DETECT), both four-year projects funded by the Atlantis programmean EU-US cooperation programme in Higher Education and Vocational Training. The DETECT project promotes trans-national undergraduate student exchange between two European Engineering, Design and Technology Educational lnstitutions (Dublin Institute of Technology and the University of Applied Science, Darmstadt, Germany) and two U.S. counterpart institutions (Purdue University and the Pennsylvania State University). The StiMasters project is a transatlantic dual Masters degree project with participant institutions including the Dublin Institue of Technology, Purdue University and the Universitat Polytechnica de Catalunya, Barcelona Spain.

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Gül E. Okudan Kremer Pennsylvania State University, University Park

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Gul Kremer is an Associate Professor of Engineering Design and Industrial Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University. She received her Ph.D. from University of Missouri, Rolla in Engineering Management and Systems Engineering. Her research interests include multi-criteria decision analysis methods applied to improvement of products and systems and enhancing creativity in engineering design settings. Her published work appears in journals such as Journal of Mechanical Design, Journal of Engineering Design, Journal of Intelligent Manufacturing, Journal of Engineering Education, European Journal of Engineering Education and Technovation. She is a member of IIE, ASME, and ASEE. She is also a National Research Council-U.S. AFRL Summer Faculty Fellow for the Human Effectiveness Directorate (2002 - 2004), an invited participant of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Frontiers in Engineering Education Symposium (2009), and a Fulbright Scholar to Ireland (2010).

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Michael J. Dyrenfurth Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Michael Dyrenfurth is professor in the Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation in the College of Technology at Purdue University. He is co-PI of two FIPSE-funded Atlantis projects: DETECT exchanging undergraduates with Ireland and German and Atlantis 2009 a concurrent Master's degree project with Ireland and Spain. He collaborates frequently with ProSTAR to deliver industry-oriented graduate programs to professionals in the field. Active in international aspects of the profession, he teaches and researches in the areas of technological innovation, technological literacy, and international dimensions of technological education.

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Brian Bowe Dublin Institute of Technology

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An Investigation of the Perceptions of Gains from Undergraduate International Exchange Programs: The Tale of AtlantisGiven the projections [1] that (1) the pace of technological innovation will continue to berapid, (2) the world in which technology will be deployed will become progressively moreinterconnected, and (3) designers, manufacturers, distributors and users will be increasinglydiverse and multidisciplinary; our graduates will need to develop a global awareness and theability to operate effectively in different cultural settings; settings where members potentiallyfrom various countries and regions with different traditions of work and personal relationswill endeavour to effectively collaborate. For third level institutions and specifically Schoolsof Engineering, Design and Technology intent on responding to the challenges of theseincreasingly important global contexts, a key emerging question is how best to preparestudents for such settings while continuing also with engineering fundamentals and theincreasingly complex technological subject matter.Clearly there can be several approaches to develop students for multi-disciplinary,international collaboration settings focused on engineering problem solving. Theseapproaches range from “course level” technology enabled virtual international collaborationsthrough to full-student exchange programs where the experience of an adaption and totalimmersion in a different cultural setting is possible. In general, the key drivers of the choiceof approach are: (1) Availability of funds to sustain the programs, and (2) Faculty buy-in.Given the impact of global recession on many educational budgets, it is imperative tounderstand the actual benefits in total immersion programs in comparison to internationalvirtual collaboration efforts. Indeed, a review of the literature did not provide conclusiveevidence. For example, while there are several papers discussing the benefits of exchangeprograms [3], authors, in general, do not use comparisons completed by validatedinstruments.We fill this void in the literature by a mixed methods approach (quantitative and qualitative).For the quantitative piece, we replicate selected sections of the P2P [2] surveys developed aspart of an NSF funded work (EEC 0550608). With the replication at hand, we specificallyfocus on the curricular experiences as experienced by students (program emphases, the extentto which programs focus on developing professional and problem solving skills, instructionalapproaches, and assessment practices), and ask the students who have international exchangeexperiences to record their perceptions about the programs they have experienced. Thequalitative portion of the study seeks to discern the value of these experiences through semi-structured interviews.The subjects of the study are the student participants in the DETECT Exchange Mobilityproject. The DETECT project is a four year project running until November 2011; one oftwo Exchange Mobility projects selected in 2007 for funding by the US Department ofEducation and the European Union under the Exchange Mobility Action of the EU-USAtlantis program. The EU-US Atlantis program is a program of co-operation in HigherEducation and Vocational Training between the US and the EU. The DETECT ExchangeMobility project is designed to promote transnational exchanges between four leadingEngineering, Design and Technology Education institutions (Dublin Institute of Technology,Dublin, Ireland and the University of Applied Science, Darmstadt, Germany; PurdueUniversity, W. Lafayette, USA and the Pennsylvania State University, USA). Funding ispredominantly used to support full-semester transatlantic student exchange and the projectaims to support a minimum of 48 full semester exchanges over its lifetime.In this paper, we provide the quantitative results collected through a two-column surveyinstrument with which students recorded their perceptions of these educational experiences,and then summarize the qualitative study findings to outlining the benefit of being immersedin the different educational settings. 1. The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century, National Academy ofEngineering, ISBN-13: 978-0-309-09162-6, 2004.2. Hoppe, U. (2010). ATLANTIS – Lessons Learned from an Educational Network for theMutual Exchange of Academic Courses in Management Information Systems, Proceedings ofInforming Science & IT Education Conference (InSITE).3.

McHale, D., & Okudan Kremer, G. E., & Dyrenfurth, M. J., & Bowe, B. (2011, June), An Investigation of the Perceptions of Gains from Undergraduate International Exchange Programs: The Tale of Atlantis Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17471

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