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Key Elements for Integrating a Semester Long Abroad Program into the Engineering Curriculum

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

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July 26, 2021

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July 19, 2022

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International Division Technical Session 5

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Luca Quadrifoglio Texas A&M University

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Dr. Luca Quadrifoglio graduated with the Laurea (1996) in Chemical Engineering from the Politecnico of Milan, worked at ENI for 5 years and then received his M.S. and Ph.D. (2005) degrees from the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). After one year as a postdoc at USC, he joined the Zachry Department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University as Assistant Professor in 2006. His teaching focuses on Operations Research and Systems Engineering, including the development and deployment of Study Abroad Programs, for which he received the 2019 D&J Birdwell Award for Teaching Excellence. His research interests are related to the design and optimization of on-demand services, such as paratransit, car-sharing and ride-hailing services. He authored more than 70 peer reviewed manuscripts and conference papers.
Dr. Quadrifoglio won the 2006 Pritsker Doctoral Dissertation Award (3rd place), the 2004 Council of University Transportation Center (CUTC) National Student Award for best publication in Science and Technology, the 2015 Fulbright Award for Teaching & Research. He was also awarded with the 2014 TRB Certificate of Appreciation.

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Maria Claudia Alves Texas A&M University

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Maria Claudia Alves
Senior Director for the Halliburton Engineering Global Programs at Texas A&M University

Dr. Maria Claudia B. Alves is the senior Director for the Halliburton Engineering Global Programs at Texas A&M University . She has been in this position since July 2012. In this position she is responsible for internationalizing the research and education activities of the College of Engineering. Under her leadership the college has significantly increased the number of students studying abroad, established new models of study abroad including co-op and research abroad and established meaningful connection for research and attraction of funded international graduate students. Maria started working at Texas A&M in 2005 as Assistant Director for Latin American Programs and in 2009 she was promoted to Program Manager for South America in the same office. During her time at the Office for Latin America Programs she created, managed and developed projects to enhance the presence of Texas A&M University in Latin American and to support in the internationalization of the education, research, and outreach projects of the university. She was charged with the development and implementation of a strategic plan for Texas A&M in South America. While at the Office for Latin America Programs, Maria was also part of the team creating and the opening the Soltis Center in Costa Rica. Maria speaks three languages fluently (Spanish, Portuguese and English) as well as intermediate French. Maria is originally from Brazil and completed her undergraduate studies at Lynn University in Florida, where she graduated with honors in Business Administration in 2002. She was part of the tennis team and was the team captain for two years, including the year the team was NCAA National Champion in 2001. She is a December 2003 graduate of the MS-Marketing program at Texas A&M University. And in the 2017, she graduated with a PhD in Higher Education Administration.

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Ahmarlay Myint Texas A&M University

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It has been long believed and proven that study abroad changes people’s lives forever for the better in terms of personal growth, interpersonal relationships, and long-term career benefits. Studies show that the longer the program, the more effective these positive impacts of a global experience are on individuals [1].

Semester-long reciprocal exchange programs provide a lasting and impactful experience, but it is not always easy to find classes that are both transferrable and can satisfy a student’s degree plan. This may be a reason why students prefer short term/midterm global programs, making the participation of engineering students in long-term study abroad programs quite low.

For two years, we have deployed and implemented a faculty-led semester program more befitting of an engineering student’s degree plan to encourage participation in a semester-long program without delaying their graduation. The program has been offered for two consecutive years, Spring 2019 and Spring 2020, with over 30 students enrolled each semester. Course variety is offered in an effort to attract the entire student population of the Civil Engineering department (primarily at the Junior classification). The classes are also made available to all other engineering students, allowing them to join by registering for (at least) two on-site classes, utilizing their elective selections and taking some classes online to complete their required semester load.

The program has a well-balanced schedule emphasizing group activities and personal time without compromising the quality of education. It is embedded into the context of a historical city (Rome, Italy), which offers a variety of advantages for program deployment. In particular: a welcoming host university with a strong engineering focus; an experienced local provider for logistics and accommodation; the availability of qualified engineering internship opportunities for students to partake in during the program; a culturally and technically-rich city that provides students with both academic and personal enrichment; a world-renowned touristic destination; and a natural hub for personal traveling.

The purpose of this paper is to share with the global engineering education community how the program was developed and implemented, the lessons learned, and the program’s impact on students.

Quadrifoglio, L., & Alves, M. C., & Myint, A. (2021, July), Key Elements for Integrating a Semester Long Abroad Program into the Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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