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Study Abroad To See The World And Become A Better Engineer

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

International Study Abroad Programs & Student Engagements

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1139.1 - 15.1139.10



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Paper Authors


Kimberly Talley Datum Engineers, Inc. Orcid 16x16

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KIMBERLY G. TALLEY, Ph.D. is a Graduate Engineer at Datum Engineers, Inc. where she works on new building design and historic preservation projects. She earned her Ph.D. in 2009 from the University of Texas at Austin where her research focus was on the assessment and rehabilitation of deteriorated concrete. She received two B.S. degrees from North Carolina State University and her M.S. from the University of Texas at Austin. Contact:

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Catherine Hovell University of Texas, Austin

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CATHERINE G. HOVELL is a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on improving design in a Texas standard concrete bridge beam. She received her MS from UT-Austin in 2007, having performed finite element analyses of a steel bridge girder system. She is also a graduate of the University of Virginia. Contact:

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Jason Stith University of Texas, Austin

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JASON C. STITH is a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on the stability of curved I-girder bridges during construction. He previously worked for two bridge design firms in Kentucky. He received his MS and MBA in 2005 and BS in 2004 from the University of Kentucky. Contact:

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

Study Abroad to See the World and Become a Better Engineer

Abstract Good engineers are more than just talented at math and science; they can creatively solve problems. This creativity is often assisted by being sensitive to project needs, whether those needs relate to a blind pedestrian or designing a Hindu Temple in Texas. This sort of sensitivity can be purely learned from years of engineering work experience, but the newly graduated engineer would be well served to have a wide range of experiences while at university. Study abroad allows students to learn about other cultures and increase their global awareness by living and studying outside of the US. As a result of these experiences, students have an opportunity to gain an appreciation for the culture they recently experienced and then translate that world awareness to other environments. By broadening their experiences, the engineering student is better prepared to tackle challenges of a diverse workplace. Quality graduates also play a part in the ranking of engineering programs. It is the hypothesis of this study that universities with more engineering students taking advantage of study abroad opportunities have engineering programs that enjoy higher rankings. Surveying the study abroad programs at universities with top ranked engineering programs provided the data to test this hypothesis.

Introduction Study abroad experiences are generally regarded as valuable learning opportunities. In 2005, the US Senate even passed a declaration to make 2006 the year of study abroad while lauding the many benefits of such programs1. Engineering students with study abroad experience have a unique position of joining their technical abilities with increased sensitivity to global issues. The authors' belief is that engineering students who study abroad tend to make better engineers from their increased awareness and sensitivity. Further, that such a relationship could be seen by comparing study abroad rates of engineering students to the perceived quality of program, which results in college rankings. Therefore, the following hypothesis was proposed.

Hypothesis Universities with more engineering students taking advantage of study abroad opportunities have engineering programs that enjoy higher rankings.

Procedure To test the hypothesis, the authors drafted a brief survey and sent it to the study abroad programs with top ranking in US News & World Report2. This survey was approved for use by the internal review process at Datum Engineers, Inc. The survey was sent out first on December 10, 2009 and again on February 17, 2010 to non-responders. All responses received before March 15, 2010 were included in the study. The ranking used for this study was for undergraduate

Talley, K., & Hovell, C., & Stith, J. (2010, June), Study Abroad To See The World And Become A Better Engineer Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15888

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015