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Starting Points for Involving Underrepresented Graduate Students in International Engagement: A Case Study on the Collaborations Between the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and Educational Institutions in Latin America

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2015 ASEE International Forum


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 14, 2015

Conference Session

Concurrent Paper Tracks - Session I

Tagged Topics

Diversity and International Forum

Page Count


Page Numbers

19.30.1 - 19.30.19



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Paper Authors


Renetta G. Tull University of Maryland, Baltimore County

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Renetta Garrison Tull is Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Student Professional Development & Postdoctoral Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC: An Honors University in Maryland), where she is the Co-PI and Founding Director for the National Science Foundation’s PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) for the 12 institutions in the University System of Maryland, and Co-PI Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Bridge to the Doctorate at UMBC. Dr. Tull has worked with thousands of students from Alaska to Puerto Rico, and in Latin America through graduate school preparation workshops that have been sponsored by The National GEM Consortium, National Society of Black Engineers, Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers, Society for the Advancement of Chicano, and Native American Scientists, American Indian Science and Engineering Society, and the Alliance/Merck Ciencia Hispanic Scholars Program. She has presented workshops on graduate school admissions, “The Success Equation,” STEM initiatives, and PhD Completion in Panama, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and schools across the United States. Tull is on the board of advisors for the PNW-COSMOS Alliance to increase the number of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) students who complete STEM graduate programs, and is a speaker on “GRADLab” tour with the National GEM Consortium, giving talks across the US each Saturday morning during the Fall. Tull researched speech technology as former member of the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has co-authored several publications on achievement in STEM fields, and is a mentoring consultant for Purdue, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, and MIT. She co-leads the “ADVANCE Hispanic Women in STEM” project in Puerto Rico, and the Latin and Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions’ (LACCEI) “Women in STEM” forum. Tull is a Tau Beta Pi “Eminent Engineer.”

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Maria Nandadevi Cortes-Rodriguez ​ Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics National Zoological Park

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PhD in Biological Sciences

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Starting Points for Involving Underrepresented Graduate Students in International Engagement: A Case Study on the Collaborations Between the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and Educational Institutions in Latin AmericaGraduate students in engineering and IT do not have many chances to participate in study abroadopportunities, and those who do, may do so as individuals based on their graduate advisor’scollaborations. In this globalized world of technological advances, developing internationalcollaborations between scholars within the STEM fields is not only beneficial; it is essential, thusopportunities should not be limited to a select few. The National Academy of Engineering hasdeveloped a list of Grand Challenges, and there is growing concern that there won’t be aninternational workforce with enough training to develop solutions for real-world issues. Despiteinvolvement of some graduate students in international research, there remain subsets ofgraduate students from underrepresented minority (URM) groups who have neither beenencouraged nor invited to participate in international projects. “Graduate Education for GlobalCareer Pathways” (Council of Graduate Schools, 2013) encouraged graduate students toparticipate in global conferences as means to engage, and serves as the premise for our strategyto broaden participation of URM graduate students in international projects. The GraduateSchool at UMBC and the National Science Foundation’s PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliance forGraduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program have started to develop cohorts ofstudents and faculty who travel to international conferences and report on their experiences.Cohort travel models are not unique in undergraduate circles; however, for our group ofparticipants, the model serves as a pathway to broaden the participation of STEM-trained womenand minorities in international engagement. The model includes immersing the cohort into aculture through participation in an international conference, presentations at a host university todevelop collaborations with faculty and students, scientific excursions, discussion sessionsaddressing research questions, and plans for building on the short-term experience. This modelstarted in 2012 with a graduate student presentation at the Latin and Caribbean Consortium ofEngineering Institutions (LACCEI) conference in Panama. In 2013, participation in LACCEI inMexico increased to two graduate students, a postdoctoral fellow, and an alumnus who is amember of the faculty at another institution. By 2014, a group of 15 participated in LACCEI inGuayaquil, Ecuador. Plans for 2015 include travel to the Dominican Republic, and affiliationswith Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico. Given graduate students’ 12-month continuousresearch and laboratory responsibilities, the short-term experience provided a sound introduction.Participants were part of the PROMISE AGEP, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority ParticipationBridges to the Doctorate program, and the UMBC/Puerto Rico ADVANCE Hispanic Women inSTEM program. Many of the participants had little to no experience abroad. The 2014 tripincluded collaborations with the CEDEI - Centro de Estudios Interamericanos in Cuenca,Ecuador for acclimation to the region, graduate student mentoring, and a presentation at the ForoLatinoamericano de Estudiantes sobre Educacion en Ingenieria conference at the EscuelaSuperior Politecnica del Litoral (ESPOL) for engineering students throughout Ecuador. Studentsfrom the U.S. and Latin American universities discussed the academic models of each country,career/life balance, development of cultural competence, and plans to engage in internationalresearch collaborations. This paper will present the model and the social science results fromquestions posed before, during, and after the trip which addressed barriers to entry such as thechallenges of family and language, and the rewards associated with international collaborations.

Tull, R. G., & Cortes-Rodriguez, M. N. (2015, June), Starting Points for Involving Underrepresented Graduate Students in International Engagement: A Case Study on the Collaborations Between the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and Educational Institutions in Latin America Paper presented at 2015 ASEE International Forum, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--17153

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