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Developing An International Study Abroad Program That Is Sustainable From Both Faculty And Student Perspectives

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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

International Study Abroad Programs

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.451.1 - 14.451.14

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Paper Authors


E James Nelson Brigham Young University

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Civil and Environmental Engineering,
Brigham Young University.
Teaching and research focus in hydrology and hydrologic modeling

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Rollin Hotchkiss Brigham Young University

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Rollin Hotchkiss teaches hydraulics and stream restoration courses and has a research focus on sedimentation and ecological connectivity in the design of transportation systems

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Lourdes Manley Brigham Young University

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Graduate Research Assistant
Brigham Young University

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Oscar Dzul Universidad Autonoma de Zacatecas

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Professor of Civil Engineering with a teaching and research focus in hydraulics

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Joshua Draper Brigham Young University

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Graduate Research Assistant (2008)
Brigham Young University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

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.

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