June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
The overwhelming majority of Fortune 500 companies have business outside the United States, which emphasizes the need for a workforce with the cultural competence, inter-cultural communication skills, and adaptability necessary to succeed in global endeavors. Toward this end, we have implemented at this institution several specific strategies to increase the percentage of engineering students studying abroad to two to three times the national average. Those strategies are shared here.
Barriers to study abroad for engineering students include demanding curricula with long prerequisite streams, limited foreign language ability, and, as for all students, financial limitations. Consequently, engineering students study abroad at a lower rate than non-engineering peers. Depending on data source and assumptions, approximately 9-13% of 2013/2014 engineering bachelor degree recipients studied abroad. In contrast, at this institution an average of 20% of engineering students in that era studied overseas. Participation continues to rise with ~30% of current seniors having studied abroad. To achieve these results, strategies to address curricular integration, language barriers, and financial obstacles are used. To assist students with curricular integration, engineering faculty and global education professionals collaborate to produce sample curricula that show how students can incorporate a fall or spring semester abroad in a standard four-year, eight-semester graduation plan. Faculty members evaluate all courses to be taken abroad for equivalency to our courses and for suitability for degree credit. Results of each evaluation are posted online by the registrar with clear indication of the number of credit hours to be awarded in each degree requirement category. Language barriers have been addressed by identifying and establishing relationships with 29 programs at overseas universities where students can study engineering subjects in English. Financial barriers are addressed at this institution, where 65% of students receive some sort of financial aid, by flexible and generous financial aid policies that allow the same coverage of fall and spring semesters abroad as on-campus study and provide a competitive scholarship for summer programs. Additional strategies not-specific to engineering also help increase participation. In total, strategies employed at this institution have resulted in study abroad percentages substantially higher than the national average for engineering students.
Paschal, C. B., & Crist, I. S., & Rowe, C. J. (2017, June), Strategies for Successfully Increasing Engineering Study Abroad Participation Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28853
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