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Three-Year Review of a Short-Term Faculty-Embedded Aerospace Engineering Study Abroad Program in Brazil

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

International Division Technical Session 4 - Global South Engineering

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Paper Authors


Ali Gordon University of Central Florida

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Ali P. Gordon is the Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs in College of Engineering and Computer Science and a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Central Florida. As associate dean, his role is to maintain oversight of the college’s graduate students and graduate programs. His leadership focuses on recruitment, retention, professional development, program assessment, and the introduction of new curricula/programs. Over the past four years, graduate student enrollment in engineering and computer science has increased 25% while at the same time becoming more selective. As a faculty member, his principal research activities focus on the development of microstructurally-informed, continuum-level models to predict behavior and durability of materials and structures subjected to complex conditions. To support these activities, he has accumulated funding from sources such as: NSF, ONR, ARO, AFRL, NASA, and numerous industrial partners. Ali is a four-time awardee of the Air Force’s Summer Faculty Fellowship with on-going collaborations with colleagues at AFRL in Wright-Patterson, Ohio. He and his students have authored over 150 peer-reviewed technical articles and two have been recognized as best papers in American Society of Mechanical Engineers journals. He is a Fellow of ASME. Ali has taught 11 different courses and leads an engineering-based study abroad course in Brazil as well as the jointly-funded NSF-DoD REU site on Hypersonics (HYPER). Ali is well-known for engaging undergraduates in research, and he is UCF’s 2019 Champion of Undergraduate Research inaugural awardee. At UCF and in the broader higher education community, Ali focuses his efforts on expanding the pipeline of graduate students qualified to pursue careers in academia. Just before joining UCF as an Assistant Professor, he earned a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. His degree in Mathematics was attained from Morehouse College.

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Sandra Sousa University of Central Florida

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Study abroad programs facilitate a means by which students can gain international experience during their academic programs of study. These programs are increasingly important for aerospace engineering students because aerospace design is decreasingly a domestic enterprise. For engineering students with complex curricular pathways, taking a semester away from campus is impractical because of the disruption to the course sequence and/or to internship/co-op appointments. A semester away from campus causes a year delay to degree attainment not to mention severing ties with study peers. A survey of engineering-based study abroad programs reveals a wide array of programs that vary by engineering discipline, destination, duration, cost, academic credit, etc. For UCF students, a short-term, faculty-embedded study abroad program with an aerospace manufacturing focus was crafted to leverage the institutional context and contributions of key supporters. While the location of Sao Paulo, Brazil is an inducement for students, the location satisfies multiple program requirements. Both Central Florida and Sao Paulo have rich histories with regards to aerospace. This article reports on the initial design of the program, its implementation, and program outcomes. The study abroad program is embedded within a semester-long, credit-bearing course called Contemporary Projects in Aerospace Engineering Manufacturing. The goals of the course are as follows: (1) serve as a link between elementary mechanics of materials and engineering design, (2) allow participants to gain a broader perspective on aerospace manufacturing in the real world, (3) help individuals understand contemporary design challenges in aerospace manufacturing, and (4) allow students to understand strategies for managing improvements to existing designs. The program and course are in their third year (i.e., 2018, 2019, 2020) and have involved 28 students since their co-inception. Results from participant feedback reveal a strongly impactful and sustainable program that can be repeated in other contexts.

Gordon, A., & Sousa, S. (2022, August), Three-Year Review of a Short-Term Faculty-Embedded Aerospace Engineering Study Abroad Program in Brazil Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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