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High-Impact, Short-Term Study Abroad in Lyon, France: An Engineering Student’s Perspective

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Student Division Innovative Research Methods Technical Session

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Alexander Kim North Carolina State University

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Alex Kim is a Senior studying Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University. He also serves as President of Musical Empowerment at NC State, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

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David F. Ollis North Carolina State University

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David Ollis is Distinguished University Professor at North Carolina State University. A past chair of the Liberal Education Division of ASEE, he has been sending engineering students to the France IPL program for 15 years. He is co-editor, with Kay Neeley and Heinz Luegenbiehl, of Liberal Education in 21s Century Engineering.( Peter Lang, 2004)

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In Lyon, France, a consortium of four private universities—ISARA, CPE, ECAM, and ITECH—have collaborated to craft a unique summer experience for undergraduate STEM students from around the world. Through partnerships formed with schools on nearly every continent, the five-week IPL Summer School (IPL) attracts undergraduates who wish to learn French and broaden understanding of their technical field of study. Subjects offered range from chemical engineering/chemistry and electrical engineering to agroecology. All students, including French beginners, take a fully immersive French course alongside their technical course. The four French institutions charge no tuition fees for participation in IPL, instead only charging for housing and excursions. By pooling their resources, they attract students by offering a program that is relatively inexpensive, thereby enabling the universities to form new, reciprocal relationships with foreign institutions. IPL, in addition to coursework, provides numerous cultural excursions, industry visits, and networking opportunities with local French students. From French class immersion trips to outdoor markets to walking through data centers at CERN in Switzerland, a remarkable range of experiences were packed into five intensive weeks. Students in IPL had a variety of reasons for participating in this international program. While some American students, for instance, primarily wished to practice their conversational French or gain scientific knowledge, several students from other countries also sought to use the IPL experience as an opportunity to improve their English. Despite this range of intention, the diverse body of participants overwhelmingly stated that they were “Satisfied” or “Very Satisfied” with IPL. Told from a student’s perspective, and including personal interviews with faculty and other students, this paper demonstrates that an engineering student can experience the high-impact benefits of studying abroad in a foreign language setting in just five weeks.

Kim, A., & Ollis, D. F. (2017, June), High-Impact, Short-Term Study Abroad in Lyon, France: An Engineering Student’s Perspective Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28436

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