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Engineering builds study abroad opportunities

Shown here is Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland taken by J.R. Swanegan, engineering’s study abroad director, on a trip to scout out locations for Mizzou Engineering’s new and ambitious Study Abroad Program.

With an increasingly globalized economy, many of today’s engineering students will eventually find themselves working in far corners of the world. But due to the structured nature of the curriculum, engineering students often are not able to take advantage of study abroad and still stay on academic track.

To remedy this dilemma, the University of Missouri College of Engineering is working to launch a broad program that will offer a variety of short-term study abroad opportunities during the winter intersession, over spring break and in the summer. Individual opportunities will qualify for either three hours of either humanities or technical credit.

“I believe our students are chomping at the bit to get these experiences,” said J.R. Swanegan, study abroad director. “I think 300 to 400 of our students — 10 percent of our student population — will participate in the program on an annual basis.

“I’d like to build up to between 20 to 30 active programs providing access to all continents, excluding Antarctica,” Swanegan said.

The first engineering-sponsored trip will take place immediately after the semester ends. From May 16 to May 27, 30 students will visit Manchester, London and Paris. The trip consists of visits to corporate settings and to cultural sites and is an example of a humanities trip.

Two additional summer programs and an intersession trip are in the works:

• Seven MU engineering students will join students from across Europe in attendance at a two-week STEM summer school program held at Kiev Polytechnic Institute. The program offers four separate study tracks from which students can choose.

• From June 15 to August 15, four students from electrical and computer engineering and computer science and will work on undergraduate research projects at Shanghai University. A reciprocal program, 10 Chinese students will come to MU in the summer of 2012.

• During the intersession, MU Industrial Engineering Professor Jim Noble will take 17 students on a two-week production systems assessment trip to Thailand. A technical trip, the group will be visiting six to eight national and international Thai-based companies where students will collect data and produce reports on their findings.

“Looking to the future, we plan to offer programs in Ireland, Egypt, Italy, Prague, the Czech Republic, South Africa and India,” said Swanegan. “The students have varied interests and it’s my goal to provide programming that appeals to everyone.”

“We’re excited to connect with universities and institutions all over the world and to offer our students international engineering experiences as well as a flavor of the history and culture of other cultures.”