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International Experience For Engineering Students Through Distance Learning Techniques

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.395.1 - 5.395.8



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Paper Authors

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Bethany S. Oberst

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Russel C. Jones

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

Session 2360

International Experience for Engineering Students through Distance Learning Techniques Russel C. Jones, PhD., P.E. World Expertise, LLC Bethany S. Oberst, PhD. James Madison University


A new mechanism is being developed for expanding international exposure for undergraduate engineering and computer science students in the United States, using information technology and distance learning techniques. Technical students in the United States, in a few instances, have begun working on projects with similar students in other countries via electronic communications. This paper provides a rationale for having engineering students gain some international experience during their undergraduate educational periods, and points out barriers to getting such experience in traditional study abroad periods. It then cites several academic programs that are providing such experience via electronic means. Finally, the authors present a proposed direction to increase the use of distance learning techniques to provide international experience for American engineering students.

Introduction Russel Jones did a major study a few years ago entitled “Educating Engineers for International Practice”. That study, which was published in Liberal Education in the fall 1995 issue (1) argues for the need for extensive international exposure for United States technology students to adequately prepare them for international practice. It is the conviction of the authors of the current paper that such exposure is needed to keep the United States engineering base competitive in an increasingly global marketplace. That need has only increased since Jones’ earlier study was completed – yet we see too little movement toward better preparing college graduates for the international challenge. Constraints such as the intensity of the undergraduate program foe engineers and the lock-step progression through the four or more years of study weigh heavily against engineering students taking advantage of traditional study abroad experiences. Traditional study abroad or internship programs also tend to be quite expensive, again limiting the number of engineering students who can or will participate. It should be noted, though, that several engineering schools are conducting exemplary programs based on the studies abroad model of sending students overseas. Examples of these programs will be described later in this paper. But such effective programs currently have much too little impact when the 300+ engineering schools in the United States are taken as a whole. In its annual survey of student mobility, published in Open Doors 1997-98 (2), the Institute of International Education reported that only 1893 United States engineering students had an international dimension in their education – representing less than 2% of the U.S. study abroad students, and an even smaller percentage of the current number of engineering students in the undergraduate pipeline.

Oberst, B. S., & Jones, R. C. (2000, June), International Experience For Engineering Students Through Distance Learning Techniques Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. 10.18260/1-2--8495

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