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International Study As A Component Of The Undergraduate Experience In Engineering

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

International Engineering Education I

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.818.1 - 10.818.8



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Paper Authors

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Janet Ellzey

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Ted Aanstoos The University of Texas, Austin

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Kathy Schmidt The University of Texas at Austin

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

Educating the Global Engineer: A New International Program at The University of Texas at Austin Janet L. Ellzey, Ted A. Aanstoos, Kathy J. Schmidt

College of Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin


External advisors (alumni and industry) stress the importance of international experience, awareness of global issues, and cultural diversity awareness as desirable traits of new-hire engineers. Similar goals appear in the ABET 2000 criteria. The Mechanical Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Austin is developing an International Engineeering Program with the goal of increasing the number of undergraduate students with international experience. A pilot six-week summer program in 2004 involved nine students earning six credit hours in Grenoble, France. The program consisted of an upper-division technical elective “Engineering Standards and Industrial Policy in a Global Environment” and an American history course, “American Foreign Policy.” Student performance and feedback from this pilot semester yielded positive results, and based on this success two additional programs are planned for Summer 2005. Both of these will be two-course, six- credit hour programs, one held at INSA Toulouse, France, and the other at University College London. This paper reports on the benefits of the international studies program to our students and faculty, and the evolution of the program offerings to take advantage of lessons learned. Program financing is discussed as are curricula development, student recruiting and advising, and advanced instructional technology requirements including classroom enhancement tools and electronic portfolios. Future plans for the program include a full spring semester abroad, extension of the summer program to Latin America, and a possible joint master’s degree program. These expanded international study options will be available to students in all College of Engineering departments.


Engineering as a professional field has become more international in its character with the increasing importance of multinational corporations and international collaborations. Employers today want international acumen, discipline-cutting experience, and cultural diversity. Yet engineering education has not fully responded to this growing need for an internationally trained workforce. At The University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) approximately 2000 students participate in Study Abroad experiences in 2004. These students come primarily from Liberal Arts where the educational culture has promoted and supported international experiences for their students for many years. In the College of Engineering, however, only 12 students out of approximately 5000 undergraduate students participated in a study abroad experience for the fall 2004 semester. Many aspects of the educational culture in engineering discourage international experiences for students. The major difficulty in planning a semester in a foreign country is the transfer of credit. Since there are no free electives in the engineering curriculum, Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Ellzey, J., & Aanstoos, T., & Schmidt, K. (2005, June), International Study As A Component Of The Undergraduate Experience In Engineering Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14742

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