June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Cooperative & Experiential Education
11.440.1 - 11.440.12
Developing Globally-Minded Engineers through Education and Experience: An Examination of International Co-op/Internship Program Models
No longer can technical education be the sole or only defining factor in tomorrow’s technical leaders. Technical knowledge in a vacuum limits the impact of the best students and limits their potential to make substantial improvements to the overall quality of life and human development. Today’s engineering students must develop global skills to be effective and contribute to decreasing worldwide environmental and human problems. International practical training is essential for educating tomorrow’s engineering leaders. The need for globally-minded engineers is no longer the question; the new question is how to prepare today’s engineering students for the workplace. International engineering co-op and internship programs allow students to gain global competencies required by today’s industry. Such programs assume various forms but share many of the same benefits and challenges.
ABET criteria for accrediting engineering programs specifically states that students must attain “the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.”1 A reflection of the changing role of engineering, such criteria are deemed a necessary aspect in educating the “Engineer of 2020.”2 Our interdependent global society requires engineering skills to address issues related to health, security, and the environment, as well as international commerce.3
As a major RAND research study concluded in the 1990’s, both universities and corporations now believe that students must understand the global nature of economics, speak other languages, and be able to assess decisions in more than one culture. The research results suggested that universities must do more than “tinker with the edges of the curriculum.” A comprehensive approach is needed, and relevant work experiences should be a prime component.4
Work abroad experiences allow students to prepare for the global economy, improve foreign language ability, and enhance employability upon graduation. Students grow personally and socially, as well as gain vital cross-cultural exposure and communication skills, by living and working in an international location.
Employers benefit by attracting highly-motivated students, establishing close ties with key universities, and gaining employees who have not only technical expertise, but also a global perspective and language skills. When employers hire co-ops or interns to work internationally, they are investing in potential leaders that can impact their growth around the world.
Universities that provide work abroad options gain world-wide visibility, strengthen ties with major industry players, increase the flow of technology between the institution and industry, and position themselves to attract students who want a value-added education.
Gulick, D., & Pearson, D., & Elliott, G., & Oliver, J., & Zimmer, K. (2006, June), Developing Globally Minded Engineers Through Education And Experience: A Panel Discussion On International Co Op/Internship Program Models Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--223
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