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International Experiences of a US Undergraduate Student in Exchange Programs in France and Brazil

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

International Experience, Effective Instruction, and Student Exchange Programs

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Page Count


Page Numbers

22.949.1 - 22.949.14



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Paper Authors


Gary Braun Riggins Virginia Tech

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Gary is a graduating senior in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. He has studied abroad in France and Brazil and spent a summer in India on an an academic project.

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Vinod K. Lohani Virginia Tech

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Vinod K Lohani is a professor in the Engineering Education Department and an adjunct faculty in the Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech. His research interests are in the areas of knowledge modeling, water and energy sustainability, engineering learning modules for freshmen, and international collaboration. He led a five-year DLR/NSF project at Virginia Tech. A spiral curriculum approach is adopted to reformulate engineering curriculum in bioprocess engineering in this project. He co-authored an award winning paper with his Ph.D. student (Dr. Jennifer Mullin) at the 2007 annual conference of ASEE.

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International Experiences of an US Undergraduate Student in Exchange Programs in France and Brazil AbstractThis paper documents year-long study abroad experiences of an engineering undergraduate,enrolled in civil engineering major at this large university in the United States, each in Franceand Brazil. The objectives are to: (i) provide feedback on engineering exchange programs, (ii)describe and compare engineering education in Brazil, France, and the U.S. based on student’sexperiences, and (iii) discuss challenges encountered in transferring courses and languageinstruction. The student spent his sophomore year in an engineering school in France withinstruction in French and senior year at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with amedium of instruction in Portuguese. During the year in France, twenty-two school credits wereearned in engineering and history/culture/language classes. In the first semester of studying inBrazil approximately eighteen school credits were completed, including an online class from thisU.S. University. The student is in Brazil at the time of this writing and expects to complete 15+school credits in fall 2010. Study in Brazil is funded by a project funded under the Funds forImprovement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) program of the U.S. Department ofEducation. These study abroad programs allowed the student to study subjects such as theEurocodes for structures, European green building systems, and environmental engineeringprojects in Brazil. In addition, the student learned French and Portuguese and became familiarwith the cultures/countries of many other exchange students from Europe, Asia, and SouthAmerica. Early impacts of these experiences on the student’s career include an internship on abridge design project in Québec in which the design drawings were in French and English. InBrazil, some students were former exchange students in France, establishing a network ofengineering students with familiarity of the various countries. The student has shared his studyabroad experiences with engineering freshmen at this U.S. University and is scheduled tograduate in spring 2011.

Riggins, G. B., & Lohani, V. K. (2011, June), International Experiences of a US Undergraduate Student in Exchange Programs in France and Brazil Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18147

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