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"It's Gonna Be a Long Trip": A Student's Experience with Engineering Abroad

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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

Study Abroad, International Exchange Programs, and Student Engagements

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

22.12.1 - 22.12.19



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Paper Authors


Tiago R Forin Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Tiago Forin is currently a third-year student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He received his Bachelors degree in Civil Engineering from Florida State University in 2006 and his Masters degree in Environmental Engineering from Purdue University in 2008. While in the School of Engineering Education, he works as a Graduate Research Assistant in the X-Roads Research Group and has an interest in cross-disciplinary practice and engineering identity development.

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“It’s gonna be a long trip.”-A student’s experience with engineering abroad.Tiago Forin- Purdue UniversityStudy abroad experiences provide students with opportunities to take part in academic courseworkwhile being immersed in a different culture. One common study abroad program involves studentsenrolling in a course overseas that is taught by a professor from the students’ home institution. In thisscenario, students are given a chance to experience a new culture while still being around fellowstudents and earning academic credit. The Global Engineering Program (GEP) at Purdue University offersanother type of study abroad experience to students. This program allows students to design anengineering solution to a problem in a developing region while facilitating global learning andengagement with a strong emphasis on service. After developing a solution to a problem faced by acommunity, students travel to the region for a brief time to build and implement the design within thelocal community. This paper uses photo elicitation narrative to take the reader on a reflective journey of a student’s, theauthor’s, perspective of a water filtration project that was developed at Purdue and implemented inEldoret, Kenya. While involved in this global engineering project, I was placed in scenarios that weredifferent from traditional classroom experiences. While in this course, my classmates and I had toovercome various obstacles. Engaging these obstacles provoked thoughts about the various learningexperiences presented to me. How will I interact with classmates that have different disciplinary trainingand what will I have to learn about how my classmates, spanning four disciplinary fields, contribute tothe development of the project? How will the students be brought up to speed on the problem whilehaving an opportunity to design a proper solution? If we coordinate with our overseas partners throughtelephone, are we receiving and understanding all the critical parts of the problem? Once overseas, willthe trip go according to plan or will we have to overcome further hurdles? The intent of this paper is todescribe the various learning experiences of one particular student while involved in a globalengineering project. By keeping a photo journal, I was able to capture significant learning moments inthe experience that my project leader might not have anticipated. For example, while our goal was tobuild a filter to provide potable water, I discovered that while the filter provided clean water, moreimportantly it created extra time for the locals for to do other crucial things. By shedding light on myreflections, this paper illustrates teaching opportunities that can be used to help students who wish tohave a better understanding of global engineering.

Forin, T. R. (2011, June), "It's Gonna Be a Long Trip": A Student's Experience with Engineering Abroad Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17286

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