June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.789.1 - 14.789.16
International Learning Experience in China for Engineering Students at Oakland University
Introduction The U.S. has long been the worldwide leader in science and technology and continues to be so. However, in a growing global world and with an increasingly diverse U.S. workforce, it is becoming paramount for U.S. engineers and researchers to develop the skills and background necessary to effectively work, communicate and innovate on an international scale and to be able to collaborate on complex engineering and research projects with colleagues and collaborators across the world. Countries such as China and India, by virtue of their size, are graduating ever increasing numbers of engineers and scientists each year and are making great strides in scientific research. The effects of the globalization of science, engineering and manufacturing have been particularly felt in rust-belt states such as Michigan and Ohio where the loss of market share by the big three U.S. automakers has resulted in large job losses and a migration of a growing number of qualified engineering students and professionals to other states in search of job and educational opportunities [1-2]. In Michigan in particular, where Oakland University is located, there is a growing awareness for the need to maintain a high quality workforce that is able to innovate in the areas of manufacturing engineering.
Much has been made in the literature about the cultural differences between the U.S., European, Asian and other educational systems [3-11]. Although exchange between U.S. scholars and researchers and counterparts from developing or emerging countries has been taking place for a long time, much of that exchange has been unidirectional in the sense that typically, foreign scientists come to U.S. institutions to conduct research and make use of state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, rather than the other way around. The number of foreign students at U.S. universities is significantly higher than that of U.S. students at foreign universities. However, if the U.S. is to remain competitive in a global economy, it is important that future engineering leaders and researchers be given the opportunity to experience firsthand what it is like to work in a foreign engineering environment and to establish a network of contacts that could lead to future international collaborations. With that in mind, the department of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Engineering and Computer Science (SECS) at Oakland University (OU) have organized a number of short-term exchange programs with Chinese Universities for OU engineering students. This paper will focus on some details of the organization of one of these programs, including pre-departure preparation, on-site activities and post-program assessment. Emphasis will be placed on the lessons learned: what worked, what didn’t work and what improvements can be made in the following years to ensure the sustainability of the program.
About the Program Sponsored by the Chrysler Foundation and Oakland University, the primary purpose of these exchange programs was to provide OU engineering students with the opportunity to work in China with Chinese engineering students on design projects and to learn about Chinese culture and language. A total of 44 OU students have so far taken part in the exchange programs that
Wang, X., & Barber, G., & Guessous, L., & Yang, L., & Qu, G., & Sethi, I. (2009, June), International Learning Experience In China For Engineering Students At Oakland University Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5273
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