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Undergraduate Engineers Get Credit For Saving Venice

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

International Engineering Education I

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1217.1 - 8.1217.7



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Paper Authors

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Fabio Carrera

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David DiBiasio

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Natalie Mello

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

Session 2160

Undergraduate Engineers Get Credit for Saving Venice

Fabio Carrera1, David DiBiasio2, and Natalie A. Mello1 1 Interdiscipilinary and Global Studies Division 2 Department of Chemical Engineering Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA 01609


Engineering students, like their peers in other areas of study, enter college today with an open mind. They have hopes and dreams, fears and priorities . . . and when students begin their university career, their goals include having an international experience, as well as having real world experience that will someday lead them to a job (1).

Today’s students grew up in an increasingly shrinking world, with about half of them having had an international travel experience with their family and nearly all of them having taken a foreign language in their earlier education (1). Somewhere along the way, though, the international experience doesn’t seem to fit within the engineering curriculum; there are too many course requirements to complete before graduation; and students drop off from their grander intentions, many even letting go of their hopes of developing a better understanding of a foreign language while at college. The barriers to international engineering study are multidimensional and include student barriers (perceived detraction from progress in the major, financial, language, reluctance to travel), faculty barriers (time away from research, family, reward system), and institutional barriers (curriculum constraints, awarding of credit, academic calendar, academic content).

WPI has found ways to overcome these barriers and has been providing an international experience for its graduates since 1980 – currently more than 50% of each graduating class has an international experience. Our paper will attempt to answer three important questions: What institutional structures make our program work? How do we know the program works? How can significant international experiences work at other engineering schools?


There are many priorities for students, but in a world where America’s reach seems to touch every spot on the globe, where McDonald’s, Coca Cola and The Gap appear on every street corner from Bangkok to Boston, most engineering students (97%) still complete their education without an international educational experience and with diminished knowledge of their place in the global marketplace as engineers (1). Evidence seems to indicate that students do not have an appreciation of their role as engineers in society, as they are most often not involved in solving

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Carrera, F., & DiBiasio, D., & Mello, N. (2003, June), Undergraduate Engineers Get Credit For Saving Venice Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--11420

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