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Developing Globally Minded Engineers Through Education And Experience: A Panel Discussion On International Co Op/Internship Program Models

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Revitalizing Cooperative Education and Engineering

Tagged Division

Cooperative & Experiential Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.440.1 - 11.440.12



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Paper Authors


Debbie Gulick Georgia Institute of Technology

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Debbie Gulick is the International Practicum Coordinator at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her responsibilities include developing and sustaining a large, broad-based program of international internships and cooperative education opportunities for students.
Debbie has worked in the field of international education with a specialization in international technical internships for the past five years. She has sent students from over 50 universities to internships in approximately 40 countries. Debbie earned a Master's degree in International Communication from American University's School of International Service in Washington, DC. Her focus and research was on international education, leadership, and cross-cultural communication.

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Debbie Pearson Georgia Institute of Technology

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Debbie Pearson, Assistant Director in the Division of Professional Practice at the Georgia Institute of Technology for the past eight years, works with cooperative education students in the aerospace and mechanical engineering fields. Her responsibilities include counseling students, developing jobs, and assessing the effectiveness of co-op assignments. Having traveled to various countries, Debbie is interested in cross-cultural issues and the benefits that international experiences hold for engineering students. Debbie completed a Master's Degree in English and counseling certification requirements from Troy University. Before joining Georgia Tech, she served various educational institutions through teaching, counseling, administration, and project coordination.

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Gayle Elliott University of Cincinnati


Jennifer Oliver IAESTE United States

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Jennifer Oliver is currently the Outbound Program Manager and East Regional Coordinator of IAESTE United States, a membership and exchange organization dedicated to developing global skills in tomorro⁷s technical leaders. Ms. Oliver is also a member of NAFSA, the Association of International Educators.

Prior to her current role with IAESTE, Ms. Oliver worked with the Center for Cultural Interchange, as a Program Manager for the Academic Year in America program. She received her M.A. in Discourse and Argumentation Studies from the Universiteit van Amsterdam and her B.A. in English Literature and Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ms. Oliver has also lived and studied in the United Kingdom.

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Karl Zimmer General Cable

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

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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