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Forming Global Engineers: A Freshman Engineering Design Course With A Multinational Design Project Involving Latin American Institutions

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Engineering Without Borders: Programs Involving Students

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

12.753.1 - 12.753.14



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Paper Authors


Ivan Esparragoza Pennsylvania State University

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Ivan Esparragoza is an Assistant Professor of Engineering at Penn State. His interests are in engineering design education, innovative design, and global design. He has introduced multinational design projects in a freshman introductory engineering design course in collaboration with institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of his effort to contribute to the formation of world class engineers for the Americas. He is actively involved in the Latin American and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institution (LACCEI) as a regional Vice-President.

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Richard Devon Pennsylvania State University

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Richard Devon is Professor and Director of the Engineering Design Program at Penn State in the School for Engineering Design, Technology, and Professional Programs. His interests are in design education, innovative design, global design, and design ethics. He was the USA PI of Prestige, a consortium of seven universities in four countries dedicated to improving global product design education through shared projects and resources. He has been using cross-national, virtual teams in his courses for the last seven years and he was instrumental in starting a global internship program in the College of Engineering.

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

Forming Global Engineers: A Freshman Engineering Design Course with a Multinational Design Project Involving Latin American Institutions


The establishment of new regional economic alliances beyond the frontiers of a single nation has required that engineers be prepared to work in an economy that is now best seen as essentially international in nature. It is evident that future engineers should have a better understanding of the global economy, awareness of cultural diversity, and appropriate training to work in multi- disciplinary and multi-national teams. This paper describes an adaptation of the first year Introduction to Engineering Design course at Penn State that has been tailored not only to teach the basic concepts in design, innovation and creativity, but also to introduce in experimental sections the concept of global design, and expose the students to other cultures through multi- national projects. Students are required to work in global design teams with students from institutions in other countries. They are challenged to solve a design problem and to use effectively the available technology for communication. This multinational project provides students the opportunity to work in a global distributed team, learn the value of different ideas from different cultures, gain knowledge of design opportunities in other countries and become skilled at how to use collaborative tool effectively.


The growing integration of economies and societies around the world, better known as globalization, has been one of the most hotly-debated topics in international economics over the past few years.1 Its advantages and disadvantages have been discussed in many forums and both sides, in favor of and against globalization, have presented clear and strong ideas. Beyond the economic point of view, this international integration has multiple implications in the interaction between the different constituents. Understanding globalization means studying the changes in population, human resource flows (migration), the changing distribution of design and manufacturing/construction work, urbanization, diseases, resource management, environmental degradation, economic integration, knowledge dissemination, information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, conflict, and governance.2 Therefore, the best way to conciliate both pro and against positions is to understand the unavoidable changes and take the necessary steps in minimizing their impact in the society.

These rapid changes in the world entail a change in the role of engineers in the global economy and, as a consequence, in the engineering education. There is an increasing perception of the need to educate competent engineers for the global market; an engineer who must understand and accept diversity; be able to work in multi-national corporations; be able to work in multi- cultural teams; be creative in the solutions of problems impacting a wider and more diverse population; be able to communicate and socialize with people from different cultures; be knowledgeable in other language; be able to use the technology to exchange ideas, solve problems and present solutions; be a leader, an excellent team member, and an ambassador. The list of competences for the global engineer might include these and more attributes besides the technical knowledge required for each major, so the question is if the industry is expecting a

Esparragoza, I., & Devon, R. (2007, June), Forming Global Engineers: A Freshman Engineering Design Course With A Multinational Design Project Involving Latin American Institutions Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2147

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