For chemical engineering student Tyler Silverman, studying abroad in Spain in the spring of 2006 offered a break from engineering and a chance to develop a global perspective. Looking back, he says being abroad “helped me understand that there is a big world out there and that being an engineer helps you be a part of that big world.”
After completing his senior design project on a solar-thermal energy plant, and having met all the requirements for an International Engineering Certificate in Spanish, Silverman started to see Spain as a land of opportunity.
With help from the college, he secured an internship with Abengoa Solar New Technologies in Seville, one of the world’s leading solar energy companies and the first to have a commercially functioning solar tower. After the internship, Silverman was asked to stay on and work full time as a research engineer investigating solar technologies for the production of electricity and fuel.
“I love my job,” he says. ”I am learning so much about a very little understood field and cutting-edge technology. I am working with a great crew and feel very lucky to be part of developing brand new solar technologies.”
The College of Engineering and Applied Science has been a campus leader in creating new international offerings for students, including study abroad opportunities, certificate programs, student exchanges, and dual degree programs.
Those efforts are now receiving national attention from the International Institute of Education, which has selected the college for an honorable mention for the 2010 Andrew Heiskell Award. The award, which will be presented March 19, is in the Internationalizing the Campus category, which had a special focus on engineering programs this year.
“We recognize that engineering is a global endeavor and we have expanded our international programming in a variety of ways to meet the needs of students and faculty,” says Dean Robert Davis. “We are both educating engineers who are prepared to work in an international environment and helping faculty to collaborate on international projects that will benefit global society.”
The award recognizes the college for the breadth of its international initiatives, which include:
Designating a professional administrator to coordinate international programs.
Growing the college’s International Engineering Certificate program to include six languages and cultures—German, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese. Forty students have completed the program since its inception in 2003, and 86 students participated in the program last year.
Providing international education, research, and service opportunities in sustainable community development through the Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities and the student chapter of Engineers Without Borders.
Joining the Global Engineering Education Exchange (E3) Consortium, a group of 30 universities offering study abroad opportunities to partner institutions.
Initiating more new exchange programs, dual degree programs, and research opportunity agreements with international universi- ties than any other unit on the campus. The college currently has four dual degree programs with universities in Chile, China, and Italy, and just last year added five new exchange programs that focus on engineering.
In addition to the programs mentioned above, the number of CU-Boulder engineering students studying abroad rose to a high of 46 in 2008–09, a number that is likely to climb higher with expanded opportunities and the support of college advisors, according to Kim Kreutzer of the Office of International Education.
“International programs and activities for engineering students and faculty continue to grow because there is continued demand for collaboration to solve the world’s problems. Today’s engineer is truly a global engineer,” says Sherry Snyder, who coordinates international programs for the college and advises students on opportunities.
Twenty to 30 years ago, engineering students were discouraged from studying abroad because it would slow their progress toward getting a degree, but new programs now allow engineering students to take required courses abroad and, if they plan well, to graduate on schedule.