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Providing International Experience Through A Rising Sophomore Abroad Program

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Global Engineering Education: Intercultural Awareness and International Experience

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.996.1 - 14.996.13



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Paper Authors

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Elizabeth Tront Virginia Tech

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Rebecca Gunter Virginia Tech

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Cheryl Peed Virginia Tech

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Joseph Tront Virginia Tech

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Providing International Experience through a Rising Sophomore Abroad Program


The Rising Sophomore Abroad Program (RSAP) was implemented at Virginia Tech’s college of engineering to provide a global experience for engineering students in their first year with the intention of preparing them for an extended experience, whether it is an internship, study, or faculty lead program abroad. The program has two-parts: an instructor led course and a travel abroad experience. All students are enrolled in a special study class entitled “Global Issues in Art, Culture, and Engineering.” This course facilitates the exchange of knowledge about these seemingly mutually exclusive subject areas--art and engineering. The class begins the process of seeing the intersection of art and engineering and their dual and complimentary influences on culture. The class prepares the students for their two week trip abroad which occurs just after exams end in the Spring semester. The travel itinerary provides students the opportunity to make an initial contact with an industry or university as they tour during the two week international trip portion of the course. It also brings together alumni abroad and industry stateside, with faculty and students to develop a program for global experience

There are multiple goals to the RSAP program: spark interest in future international experiences such as an internship or studying abroad for a semester; expose engineering students to different cultures and customs in the workplace, school and daily life; attract and retain women by providing interesting social, cultural and art related experiences; attract culturally disadvantaged students, raise them up and level the playing field for them; and broaden the student engineers’ horizons to better prepare them for being productive employees in the global workplace.

This paper will review the steps in planning and implementing the both the class and the travel. The assessment of meeting our goals, such as providing our engineering graduates with intercultural competency, will be discussed.

The Goals of RSAP

One of 10 strategic goals of the college of engineering, and the university, is to increase global experiences for faculty and students. As Dean Richard Benson says, his goal is to “Enrich the college’s strategic partnerships with universities and institutions around the world by enhancing students and faculty global awareness and cultural experiences through research, study abroad, and internship opportunities.” The Rising Sophomore Abroad Program is designed to help meet that goal in the following ways:

≠ Spark the students’ interest in global culture while early enough in their program of study to be able to fit a study or internship abroad experience into their college plans ≠ Expose student engineers to different cultures, making them more globally aware and broadening their horizons ≠ Recruit and retain women in engineering by providing culturally rich international travel opportunities

Tront, E., & Gunter, R., & Peed, C., & Tront, J. (2009, June), Providing International Experience Through A Rising Sophomore Abroad Program Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4882

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