Asee peer logo

Engineering Learning Community Introduction to Research Abroad A 5 year Assessment

Download Paper |


2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 6: Monitoring, Evaluating and Research

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Maria Alves Texas A&M University

visit author page

Dr. Maria Claudia B. Alves serves as Senior Director for Engineering Global Programs at the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University. In this position since July 2012, she developed and implemented a multi-year strategic plan on global education programs that led to measurable outcomes such as increase in student participation and learning, as well as faculty engagement in global programs in the College of Engineering. Some of her most significant accomplishments are establishing a shared vision among stakeholders by jointly developing and implementing the strategic plan, and leading her team to double student participation in global programs while elevating the value and impact of the global program on the students’ learning experience; establish new models of global experience (global research and internship, global virtual courses, and multidisciplinary project-based field trips); and create and implemente many long-lasting global programs in collaboration with faculty members and international partners.
Dr. Alves commenced her employment at Texas A&M in 2005 as Assistant Director for Latin American Programs. In that position, her most impactful accomplishments were the development and implementation of education and research programs in partnership with Brazil; some of these programs are still in place today. She also supported the establishment of the TAMU Soltis Center in Costa Rica. Three awards she is most proud of are the 2021 International Education Administrators (IEA) Fulbright France Award, the TAMU Tradition of Excellence Award in 2007, and winning the Women’s Tennis NCAA Division-2 National Championship in 2001 with the Lynn University team. Dr. Alves speaks three languages fluently (Spanish, Portuguese, and English) and conversational-level French. She holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and a MS in Marketing from Texas A&M University.

visit author page


Ahmarlay Myint Texas A&M University

visit author page

Ahmarlay Myint is a program specialist for Halliburton Engineering Global Programs at Texas A&M University. Ahmarlay received her M.S. in Bilingual Education from Texas A&M and has completed doctoral coursework in School Psychology. Her research and professional interests include first generation college students and cultural competence.

visit author page

author page

Zenon Medina-Cetina Texas A&M University

author page

Sonia Garcia University of Georgia

Download Paper |


There is a myriad of university programs that endeavor to improve retention and graduation rates among undergraduate historically underrepresented minority (URM) students. In 2015, staff and faculty at Texas A&M University (TAMU) partnered with the Yucatan Initiative Project (YIP), to create a program in Yucatan Mexico where engineering students could develop their global mindset and gain research experience early in their college career, through a high-impact learning opportunity. The Engineering Learning Community Introduction to Research (ELCIR) Program at Texas A&M University (TAMU) exposed engineering students to international (or global) research through a high-impact opportunity in Yucatan, Mexico. The program was able to fund the experience for first generation URM students by utilizing funds provided by a Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) grant. The objectives of the ELCIR program were to increase retention and graduation rates; develop students’ global/cultural competence; and encourage students to pursue research-related opportunities (e.g., graduate school) after graduation. Prior to their departure to Mexico, students participated in seminars that covered necessary logistical and regional information. During their two weeks in Yucatan, Mexico, students fostered relationships with the community through homestays with host families and research-focused classes at local universities; explored the rich environment and learned about local research projects; and participated in cultural group activities and technical visits. These experiences provided the students with a thorough understanding of the region and its research opportunities, providing the foundation on which they selected a research question to undertake. The program culminated in a research poster presentation, where students showcased the final product to their peers, faculty, and administrators. ELCIR participants were provided a pre- and post-program survey. With data from five years of the program, results of the survey indicated that students who participated in ELCIR demonstrated higher confidence levels and gained cultural competence as well as an understanding of the research process. A deeper appreciation, understanding, and a more positive image of Mexico was observed in Hispanic/Latino students, which supports the idea of them having a stronger sense of identity and self-concept. When compared to their peers, retention and graduation rates were higher for the ELCIR participants.

Alves, M., & Myint, A., & Medina-Cetina, Z., & Garcia, S. (2022, August), Engineering Learning Community Introduction to Research Abroad A 5 year Assessment Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2022 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015