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Purdue-Tsinghua Undergraduate Research Dual Exchange: A New Programmatic Implementation for Enhancing Global Learning

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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 3

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Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1285.1 - 26.1285.17



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Paper Authors


Nan Kong Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Nan Kong is an Associate Professor in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University. He received his PhD in Industrial Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. His research interest includes big-data health analytics. He is actively in collaborating with international partners to enhance American engineering students' global learning.

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Tiago R Forin Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Tiago Forin is a PhD candidate in Engineering Education and researcher at Purdue University affiliated with XRoads Research Group, the Global Engineering Program and the Office of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Effectiveness. He received a Bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Florida State University and a Master's degree in environmental engineering from Purdue University.

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Brent K Jesiek Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Brent K. Jesiek is Associate Professor in the Schools of Engineering Education and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. He is also an Associate Director of Purdue’s Global Engineering Program, leads the Global Engineering Education Collaboratory (GEEC) research group, and is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award to study boundary-spanning roles and competencies among early career engineers. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from Virginia Tech. Dr. Jesiek draws on expertise from engineering, computing, and the social sciences to advance understanding of geographic, disciplinary, and historical variations in engineering education and practice.

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Natascha M Trellinger Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Natascha Trellinger is a second year Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Syracuse University where her interest in the teaching and learning aspects of engineering began. At Purdue, Natascha is a member of the Global Engineering Education Collaboratory (GEEC) and is particularly interested in graduate level engineering education.

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Purdue-Tsinghua Undergraduate Research Dual Exchange: A New Programmatic Implementation for Enhancing Global LearningGlobal learning continues to gain prominence in many engineering schools and degree programs.Yet among existing offerings, for-credit study abroad continues to overshadow programs thatoffer students global research or work sojourns on cross-cultural and interdisciplinary teams.While such opportunities benefit from their ability to provide experiential learning, a majorchallenge associated with implementing and scaling up these global research/work programs isthe motivation of faculty and students from both participating countries and institutions. Torespond to the challenge, the Purdue College of Engineering has offered a team research programsince 2009 that takes place at both Tsinghua University, the top engineering school in China, andPurdue University during the summer semester. Students from both institutions form cross-cultural teams that undertake interdisciplinary research projects a period of 10 weeks. Twoprojects were offered during summer 2014, focusing on big data and analytics for biomedicine.Given the interdisciplinary nature or the projects and the affiliations of the advisors on the twosides, undergraduate students from Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering andTsinghua’s Department of Automation participated in the program. The dual exchange programis structured such that intensive research is first conducted in a Tsinghua University lab for fiveweeks, or from early June to mid July. Next, the paired students travel back to Purdue Universityand continue to conduct their research for five more weeks. The summer semester provides aconvenient time for both sides because neither the U.S. students’ nor Chinese students’ academiccalendar is impacted. Different from the one-way study aboard programs, this dual exchangeprogram also promotes the continuity of the global learning experience for the Americanstudents even after their return from China.This paper offers a detailed description of the two-way exchange program. In part, it uses anarrative approach to take the readers on a reflective journey of two international programadministrators, four research advisors, and four students who participated in the dual exchangeprogram. This paper also summarizes results from a series of five reflective learning promptsadministered during the projects (1 pre, 3 during, and 1 post), as well as post-project interviewswith each of the senior personnel. As further background for these efforts, the paper summarizessome relevant prior literature discussing strategies for scaffolding and assessing learningoutcomes, both in general and specifically in the context of global engineering programs. Basedon our preliminary results, we also discuss both benefits and challenges associated with thisinnovative programmatic implementation. Furthermore, we propose directions for improvement,with an emphasis on student recruitment, faculty involvement, and outcome assessment. Thispaper will likely be of interest to university faculty and staff who are interested in, or involvedwith, programs that provide research abroad opportunities for engineering students.

Kong, N., & Forin, T. R., & Jesiek, B. K., & Trellinger, N. M. (2015, June), Purdue-Tsinghua Undergraduate Research Dual Exchange: A New Programmatic Implementation for Enhancing Global Learning Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24622

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