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NanoJapan International Research Experience for Undergraduates:

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2013 ASEE International Forum


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 22, 2013

Start Date

June 22, 2013

End Date

June 22, 2013

Conference Session

Track 2 - Session II - Curriculum Development

Tagged Topic

Curriculum Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

21.55.1 - 21.55.11



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Paper Authors


Cheryl Matherly The University of Tulsa

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Dr. Cheryl Matherly is Vice Provost for Global Education and Applied Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Tulsa, where she has responsibility for the strategic leadership of the university’s plan for comprehensive internationalization. Dr. Matherly’ special area of interest is with the internationalization of science and engineering education, specifically as related to workforce development. She directs the NanoJapan program, funded by the National Science Foundation in order to expand international research opportunities for students in STEM fields. NanoJapan was recognized by the Institute for International Education in 2008 with the prestigious Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovations in Study Abroad. She received a second NSF grant for a multi-phase conference, Strategic Issues in University Internationalization , that examined a comparative approaches in the US and Japan for the internationalization of science and engineering education. Dr. Matherly is the recipient of two Fulbright grants for international education administrators (Germany and Japan.) She has a BA in English and Political Science from the University of New Mexico, an MS in Education from Indiana University, and an Ed.D. in Education from the University of Houston.

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Sarah R. Phillips Rice University

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Sarah Phillips is the Education and International Initiatives Manager for the National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education (NSF-PIRE) "U.S.- Japan Cooperative Research and Education on Terahertz Dynamics in Nanostructures" grant at Rice University. In collaboration with the PI and Education Director, she manages all aspects of the NanoJapan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates Program. Since 2006, this program has sent 118 young U.S. engineering and physics students to Japan for research, language, and cultural study. She also manages the reciprocal NanoREIS: Research Experiences for International Students at Rice University which provides opportunities for students from the laboratories of our Japanese collaborators to come to Rice for short-term research internships. Since 2008, 60 Japanese students have come to Rice through this program.

Prior to her position at Rice, she worked at the Institute of International Education (IIE) on the U.S. Department of State funded Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship and completed a brief assignment at the IIE office in Doha, Qatar. She is currently pursuing a M.L.A. in International Studies from the University of St. Thomas, Houston and received her B.A. in History, Political Science, and East Asian Studies from Minnesota State University, Moorhead.

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Junichiro Kono Rice University

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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.

Matherly, C., & Phillips, S. R., & Kono, J. (2013, June), NanoJapan International Research Experience for Undergraduates: Paper presented at 2013 ASEE International Forum, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--17260

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