June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.451.1 - 14.451.14
Developing an International Study Abroad Program that is Sustainable from Both Faculty and Student Perspectives
In recent years, more and more industries have recognized the need to work across national and cultural boundaries to be successful1. Advances in communications media and the Internet allow instant communication to nearly anywhere on the planet2 .The net effect has been to shrink the perceived size of the world and significantly reduce the technical difficulties and complexities associated with forming international project teams. Consequently, companies in many industries now face a need to cooperate and work with people from other cultures and value systems in order to remain competitive.
Although many of the physical challenges related to globalization have been overcome, social challenges including communication and cultural, economic, and political differences remain. The skills required to deal with such challenges have generally been overlooked by traditional engineering education, which has focused primarily on teaching the technical skills necessary for students to be successful engineers. Communication, leadership, teamwork, and cultural sensitivity are part of a global skill set that has been identified by the engineering community as necessary for new graduates; therefore, many institutions have modified existing courses or created new ones to develop these skills3.
The research presented hereto addresses globalization in the context of civil engineering and has the twofold objective of (1) describing a sustainable engineering study abroad program that could be used as a model to develop the required soft skills for engineers to work in global environments and, (2) describing current and future assessment tools used to measure the success of the program. This ongoing study abroad program is taught in the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at Brigham Young University (BYU) to help students develop the traits of the global engineer.
The Global Engineer
Engineering educators have realized the impacts of globalization and have already started working to prepare the engineers of the 21st century for a more global industry. Indeed, Jones and Oberst claim that “engineering is probably closer than any other profession to converging worldwide on standards of educational quality4.” According to the McKinsey Global Institute, engineering ranks as one of the occupations most amenable to outsourcing5. Consequently, employers are seeking graduates with experience and an international mindset6. They are looking for global engineers to be leaders in a global industry. A global engineer is an engineer who has mastered many of the skills and attributes that have been defined as necessary for an engineer to succeed in the 21st century. Del Vitto7 mentions several of these skills and includes “good communication skills (including multiple languages), the ability to work in teams, cross-cultural sensitivity and knowledge, social awareness, capacity to handle complex systems, business acumen and sense of entrepreneurship” as part of the global engineer skill set.
Nelson, E. J., & Hotchkiss, R., & Manley, L., & Dzul, O., & Draper, J. (2009, June), Developing An International Study Abroad Program That Is Sustainable From Both Faculty And Student Perspectives Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5373
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