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Applying a Collaborative Online International Learning Experience (COIL) during two Undergraduate Environmental Engineering Courses in the US and Mexico

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 4 - Global South Engineering

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Jorge Loyo Rosales Rice University

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Jorge Loyo joined Rice in January 2016 as a lecturer for the NSF-funded Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT), and he became NEWT’s Associate Director of Education in January 2017. In the latter role, Jorge coordinates and runs NEWT’s REU program. He developed and runs NEWT’s Core Course, offered to the center’s first-year graduate students. Jorge collaborates with NEWT’s Innovation Ecosystem Director, and the Student Leadership Council in the planning of educational and professional development opportunities for NEWT graduate students and postdocs. At Rice, Jorge is an Adjunct Professor in the Civil & Environmental Engineering and Bioengineering Departments, where he developed and teaches CEVE/GLHT 314: Sustainable Water Purification for the Developing World, a project-based course on sustainable strategies for safe water supply in low-income and developing regions of the world. He advises undergraduate students in other project-based courses at Rice, and he works with the Center for Civic Leadership in the development of activities to promote student community engagement, such as Alternative Spring and Fall Breaks and summer experiences with water-related NGOs in Mexico. Jorge’s previous research and teaching experience as a postdoctoral scholar (UC Berkeley and Ryerson University) and assistant professor (Monterrey Tech) fall within the areas of water quality assessment, water and wastewater treatment, emerging organic pollutants, and ecotoxicology. He holds a B.Sc. in Food Chemistry from the National University of Mexico, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Maria Raynal Gutiérrez Tecnologico de Monterrey (ITESM)

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María E. Raynal-Gutiérrez is a Civil Engineer with a master's and Ph.D. degrees in Environmental Engineering. She has been a professor at different Universities in Mexico, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses since 2011. She has become interested in techniques to improve students' learning in the past four years.

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The ability to communicate effectively and to work in multidisciplinary teams with individuals from diverse international backgrounds are some of the student outcomes that need to be met by academic programs seeking accreditation by independent organizations such as ABET. International course collaborations able to fulfill these goals are challenging under regular conditions, but the COVID-19 pandemic and the migration to virtual learning in both Mexico and the United States presented an opportunity to test multinational collaboration during a regular course context. In the Fall 2021, we piloted a month-long collaboration between two engineering courses at Rice University (US) and Tecnológico de Monterrey (Mexico). This collaboration was designed to meet the two student outcomes stated above in the context of UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 using COIL. A series of activities were designed to promote student reflection on topics such as the cultural, social, and technical factors related to the design of a rainwater collection system. Examples of these activities include discussion sessions prompting the exchange of ideas by students from both institutions, and mutual evaluation of their rainwater harvesting designs. At the end of the collaboration, the students completed a survey reporting their understanding of the current global water crisis, the challenges to provide sustainable solutions, and their perception of the collaboration. Due to differences in both courses, such as accessibility and quality of internet access, the personal goals of the students and the language barrier, the authors obtained mixed reactions from the students to this collaboration. Most students reported that this experience was positive, provided new knowledge and an opportunity to develop their international collaboration skills; only a few students reported no positive outcomes. Although this first collaboration proved to be satisfactory for both students and instructors, it also provided several learning opportunities, such as forming smaller work groups to allow the students to connect at a more individual level, providing TAs to be present in every discussion room to encourage participation of all students, and emphasizing the need for more cultural awareness, such as the fact that some participants are not having these discussions in their native language.

Loyo Rosales, J., & Raynal Gutiérrez, M. (2022, August), Applying a Collaborative Online International Learning Experience (COIL) during two Undergraduate Environmental Engineering Courses in the US and Mexico Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--40652

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