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Maximizing the Global Experience: Lessons Learned from Running a Faculty-led Program to Brazil

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 1

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Page Numbers

26.1136.1 - 26.1136.9



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Paper Authors


Courtney Pfluger Northeastern University

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Dr. Courtney Pfluger received her Doctoral degree in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University in 2011. In the fall of 2011, she took a position as an Assistant Teaching Professor at Northeastern University in the College of Engineering as a part of the First Year Engineering Faculty with a focus on chemical engineering. She teaches the first year courses where are Engineering Design and Engineering Problem Solving. She also teaches senior Chemical Engineering Process Controls. She runs a faculty led international summer program to Sao Paulo, Brazil which focuses on Alternative Energy Technologies and Brazilian Culture.

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Maximizing the Global Experience: Lessons Learned from Running a Faculty-led Program to BrazilThis paper covers how to run a successful faculty-led international program to maximize studentglobal competencies and awareness for the need of alternative energy applications globally. Thealternative energy themed program, which has run for two consecutive years, brought bothengineering and non-engineering students from large public research university to São Paulo,Brazil. Surveys were given to students before and after each program to assess program quality,student perceptions of global issues, and the need to alternative energy technologies. Thestudents took an alternative energy technology course, which discussed the differences inapplications and policies of these technologies in Brazil versus the United States. The studentsmet with government officials and local businesses to discuss and see the applications andpolicies associated with alternative energies in Brazil. The students went on many culturalexcursions where they go to participate in cultural activities, like learning to samba and performcapoeira after learning their historical significance in the classroom.One of the outcomes from the study of this program was the differences in student perceptionsbefore and after they went on the program. It was found that students had a difficult timerelating or integrating into the new culture when they did not know the language. Animprovement was made for the second iteration of the program, where 8 hours language classeswere incorporated into the Brazilian Culture course. This showed increase in student confidenceto explore the city and talk with locals, which gave the students a better understanding of theculture. It was found from the study that after the program, the students were much more awareof the stark social and economic differences in Brazil and expressed interest in making cleanenergy more available to those populations. As a result, study found that the faculty-ledinternational program increased the students desire to become globally aware and become globalcitizens.

Pfluger, C. (2015, June), Maximizing the Global Experience: Lessons Learned from Running a Faculty-led Program to Brazil Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24473

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