June 22, 2013
June 22, 2013
June 22, 2013
21.55.1 - 21.55.11
NanoJapan International Research Experience for Undergraduates: Preparing Globally Engaged Science and Engineers The NanoJapan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates Program,established by a National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research andEducation (NSF-PIRE) grant in 2006, is a twelve-week summer program through which twelvefreshman and sophomore physics and engineering students from U.S. universities completeresearch internships in Japanese nanotechnology laboratories. NanoJapan tightly integrates theinternational experience with students’ academic programs by providing hands-on opportunitiesto acquire technical skills and knowledge associated with cutting-edge nanotechnology researchprojects. The program aims to increase the numbers of U.S. students who pursue graduate studyin nanoscience and cultivate a generation of globally aware engineers and scientists who areprepared for international research collaboration. Japanese universities are logical partners for this program. Japan and the U.S. are globalleaders in terahertz (THz) research and related nanotechnology (in 2008, the U.S. invested $1.55billion, and Japan $950 million, in nanotechnology research). Stimulating cooperation betweenU.S. and Japanese researchers is critical to further advances, yet obstacles exist for internationalcollaboration, primarily linguistic and cultural barriers. Engineering majors represent just 3.9%and physical or life sciences majors just 7.5% of U.S. students studying abroad. Historically,engineering or science students, especially first and second year students, have had fewerinternational opportunities that allow them to pursue coursework or research abroad that isdirectly tied to their degree program. NanoJapan, recognized by the Institute for International Education as a best practice forscience and engineering study abroad programs, includes the following program components:Three week Japanese Language & Culture Orientation in Tokyo, including 45 hours of Japaneselanguage instruction, accommodating novice to advanced learners, and an introduction tonanoscience; eight-week internships in leading nanotechnology labs throughout Japan, duringwhich students conduct a research project in collaboration with a Japanese professor andgraduate student; participation in the Rice Quantum Institute Summer Research Colloquium &Re-Entry Program, at which students present posters about their research in Japan; culturalprogramming that encourages students to learn about traditional and modern Japanese culture. In addition to presenting the program model, the researchers will discuss student learningoutcomes, using both quantitative and qualitative assessment methods. Since 2006, 106 studentshave participated in NanoJapan. Seventy-two percent of the participants indicate that they arelikely to pursue a career in science and engineering. Among those who have graduated, 71 arepursuing or have received master’s or doctoral degrees in STEM fields. NanoJapan studentshave also made impressive gains with language study. Among the 80 students with no previousJapanese language experience, 46% were evaluated on the Oral Proficiency Interview at aNovice Mid (roughly equivalent to 150 instructional hours) and 31% at a Novice High (roughlyequivalent to 270-300 instructional hours) by the end of the summer. In the qualitative post-program essays, students indicate that their NanoJapan experience significantly affected theirunderstanding of collaboration in scientific research; their understanding of the research processitself; and the differences between the research in the U.S. and Japan.
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