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Designing Global Experiences For Engineering Students

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

BME Curriculum Development

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.431.1 - 14.431.16

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Paper Authors

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Sonya Seif-Naraghi University of California, San Diego

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Designing Global Experiences for Engineering Students Abstract

Participation in a foreign study program can teach students valuable skills outside their technical skill set. It has been recognized in academia and industry alike that engineers require an ever-broadening skill set in order to function competitively. Considering the increasingly globalized nature of the industry, an understanding of other cultures and strong cross-cultural communication skills will prove invaluable. Understandably, these skills are difficult to impart in a traditional engineering classroom. In order to address this challenge and offer students a global experience, a foreign study program has been developed for the bioengineering students at Arizona State University. The model was designed to be easily adaptable with three key components – minor modification of flow- charts, identification of host institutions, and active student encouragement. To avoid controversy regarding accreditation, the curriculum was modified to allow for travel abroad during either semester in the second or third years during which the student completes general engineering classes but would not have to take any major-specific courses (here, bioengineering). International host institutions that taught classes primarily in English and Spanish were identified with the rationale that these were the two languages most spoken by students at Arizona State University. Over twenty schools were found that offered the necessary classes, including the University College Dublin, the ITESM campuses in Mexico, and various technical institutes throughout the world. The final step is actively encouraging students to take advantage of the opportunity. This study provides a framework for the design and implementation of foreign study programs for engineering students with the testimonial support of the pilot students.

1. Introduction

Academia and industry have both acknowledged that engineering students require an increasingly broad set of skills, both technical and professional [1,3,5,6]. Within the professional skill set, strong communication skills are essential and should be emphasized as such within undergraduate curricula. As the engineering industry will only become more globalized, the ability to communicate cross-culturally will be a necessary aspect of this skill set [5,6,17,18]. Teaching these skills is challenging within the traditional classroom and it is proposed that the best way to impart these skills and provide a valuable learning experience is to design global experiences for engineering students. The idea of a global experience can be as simple as introducing a seminar series about different cultures and encouraging discussion between students that have spent time in other countries and students who have not. This would be especially effective in programs with diverse student bodies. Additionally, schools close to the United States/Mexico border have the unique advantage of being able to organize shorter trips to give their students a new perspective.

The focus of this paper is the design and implementation of a semester-long study abroad experience. Participation in a foreign study program can teach students valuable skills outside their technical skill set. If the program is done in a country with another

Seif-Naraghi, S. (2009, June), Designing Global Experiences For Engineering Students Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.

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