School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean David Dolling wants 100 percent of his engineering students to go abroad.
Historically, only five or six SEAS students per class study abroad during their four years at GW, but Dolling said in an interview last week he wants that to change. To encourage SEAS students to take the plunge, Dolling is working with study abroad advisers to launch an initiative allowing more courses taken abroad to be accepted credit for GW.
Engineering students have rigid curriculum requirements that often require students to take 16 to 18 credits per semester, and students can find it difficult to fit a whole semester of non-engineering courses into that schedule, SEAS study abroad adviser Matthew Knouse said. The new initiative will make it easier for students to travel abroad because the curriculum at the foreign universities would correspond to GW classes, Knouse and Dolling said.
“We are hoping to arrange the curricula such that the classes taken while studying abroad meet all of our requirements and that the credits transfer back here,” Dolling said in an e-mail. “The engineering world is a major player in all that encompasses globalization; it is important that our students learn to live and work in other cultures.”
With more than 10 SEAS students already signed up, the first direct exchange program will be hosted by University College in Dublin. SEAS is looking to send students to four locations around the world in the next two years, with a program at Korea University under tentative construction.
SEAS students interviewed are excited for the new program, saying they find it tailored to their needs.
“I’m happy, I might do it,” Siri Rao, a SEAS freshman, said. “I’m still exploring all of the new countries they’re adding, but I’m a freshman, I have time.”
In the past, SEAS students would have to find a way to make up 15 credits and still graduate on time if they wanted to spend time abroad. The direct exchange programs will resolve this issues for students by allowing them to remain on their current curriculum track while taking their engineering courses abroad, Knouse said.
All credits and grades will transfer and all of the classes will be taught in English, Dolling said.
Knouse said his office is making every possible effort to ensure students get the most out of studying abroad.
“Because we’re a small school, we’re able to focus on our students. We give them depth from a solid engineering education,” he said. “We’re going out on our own and making the direct partnerships to increase the breadth of their education.”
Lauren French contributed to this report.
This article appeared in the September 21, 2009 issue of the Hatchet.