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Study Abroad in Brazil: A Pilot Project in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Global Studies, Initiatives, and Study Abroad Programs

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1198.1 - 25.1198.11



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Paper Authors


Vinod K. Lohani Virginia Tech

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Vinod K. Lohani is a professor in the Engineering Education Department and an Adjunct Faculty in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Virginia Tech. His research interests are in the areas of knowledge modeling, water and energy sustainability, engineering learning modules for freshmen, and international collaboration.

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Eileen Van Aken Virginia Tech

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Eileen Van Aken, Ph.D.. received her B.S. in industrial engineering and operations research from Virginia Tech. She also received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech. In 1996, she joined the ISE faculty as an Assistant Professor, was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2003, and promoted to Full Professor in 2011. In 1999, she founded the Enterprise Engineering Research Lab for which she continues to serve as Director. She currently holds the position as Associate Department Head and Undergraduate Program Director. Prior to joining the ISE faculty at Virginia Tech, she was employed for seven years at the Center for Organizational Performance Improvement at Virginia Tech and was also employed by AT&T Microelectronics in Richmond, Va., where she worked in both process and product engineering. Her interests in research and teaching include performance measurement and management systems, organizational improvement, team-based work systems, and lean work systems. Her research has been funded by both industry and federal agencies. Van Aken has authored more than 70 papers in refereed journals and refereed conference proceedings and has been responsible for bringing in more than $3 million of externally-funded research to Virginia Tech. She has given dozens of invited presentations and workshops to disseminate research findings to both the academic community and to practicing managers, both nationally and internationally. Van Aken has served on many department, college, and university committees at Virginia Tech, including key departmental committees such as the Undergraduate Program Committee (which she currently chairs), Graduate Program Committee, and Search Committee. She has also been involved in serving the College and University in recent years through her involvement in AdvanceVT, a program funded by the National Science Foundation with the aim of increasing the role of women faculty in science and engineering. The AdvanceVT program and NSF grant funding has enabled Virginia Tech to make significant progress in this area, as well as progress in instituting and revising faculty work-life policies and programs that benefit all faculty. Van Aken holds senior membership in both the Institute of Industrial Engineers and the American Society for Quality, and is also a member of the American Society for Engineering Management and American Society for Engineering Education. She is currently serving as Immediate Past President and member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Engineering and Management Systems (one of IIE’s societies) and she served as Chair for three years of the Engineering Management Track at the Industrial Engineering Research Conference. She served as the Co-chair for the overall technical program at the IERC in 2011. She served as Chair of the U.S. Senate Productivity and Quality Award Program for Virginia for two years, after having served on the Board of Directors and as an Examiner for several years. In 2002, she was inducted as a Fellow in the World Academy of Productivity Sciences and in 2010 was inducted as a Fellow in the American Society of Engineering Management.

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First Study Abroad Project in Brazil – College of Engineering, A Large PublicUniversityIn 2007, a study abroad project funded under the Funds for Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) program (US-Brazil Program) of the Department ofEducation began at this large public university. This is the first such project forengineering students at this university. Faculty members from four departments(Engineering Education (EngE); Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE); Civil andEnvironmental (CEE); and Materials Science and Engineering (MSE)) participated inthis project. Project investigators collaborated with investigators from two USuniversities and three Brazilian universities (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro,Pontificia Universidade Católica do Paraná, and Universidade Federal do Juiz de Fora)and developed a student exchange program. Seven students have studied in Brazil fora semester to date and project will expire in 2012. This paper will discuss the following: (i) Key strategies for recruiting students for the program (ii) Issues involved in developing Memorandums of Understanding and Student Exchange Agreements between VT and Brazilian universities. (iii) Portuguese language training and course transfer issues from Brazilian universities (iv) Experiences of seven students (3 in CEE, 1 in MSE, and 3 in ISE) who have completed one-semester long study in Brazil to date. (v) An “International Engineering Certificate” (under development) for undergraduates in College of Engineering.

Lohani, V. K., & Van Aken, E. (2012, June), Study Abroad in Brazil: A Pilot Project in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21955

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