School of Engineering and Applied Science adds study abroad option

Students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science will have another opportunity to study abroad starting in the spring semester, after GW added Korea University as an overseas partner this fall.

A $1 million gift to the University from entrepreneur Simon Lee and his wife Anna Lee will provide interested students with the chance to study in South Korea with a $2,000 travel grant to mitigate the cost of overseas travel. Students can use the funds to pay for their plane tickets or other travel expenses.

Lee received his Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the University in 2005. Three of the couple’s children also graduated from GW with master’s degrees. Lee is the founder and president of STG, Inc., a federal government solutions provider.

Korea University joins University College Dublin as a partnership school for SEAS. Because it is often difficult to match the SEAS requirements with courses offered abroad, faculty in the school work with the two partnership universities to approve the four or five courses students take, and ensure the credit hours earned will apply to a SEAS degree.

SEAS Dean David S. Dolling said the school does a great deal of research to decrease students’ anxiety over credit transfers and curriculum requirements.

“Working with our partnership schools takes a load off of students’ minds and helps students avoid the horror stories of credits being non-transferable,” Dolling said. He said he is working to expand the partnership program to four or six universities around the world.

“Engineering has become a global enterprise,” Dolling said. “These programs give students an early experience of being in another culture. Studying abroad makes students more tolerant because it opens their eyes to different cultures.”

The school’s relationships with its partners also prove beneficial to students while they are abroad, said Matthew Knouse, a Dean’s Fellow and study abroad advisor for SEAS students.

“The special relationships we have are a cool thing and help us cater to the best interests of our students,” Knouse said. “For example, there was a case when one student needed a tutor and we were able to work with the partnership school and get the student a tutor efficiently and quickly.”

Study abroad programs at the partnership institutions are offered in the spring of sophomore year for engineering students and the spring of junior year for computer science students. Knouse said before the programs were set up, an average of three engineers per year studied abroad. The number increased to 18 students last year and Knouse said he hopes between 30 and 33 engineers will study abroad this spring. Senior Jimmy Gomez, who is majoring in mechanical engineering, said the curriculum and financial support SEAS provided influenced his decision to study in Dublin last spring.

“If a great opportunity is handed to you on a silver platter then you must be a fool to pass it up,” Gomez said. “Opportunities come only once in a while and SEAS is making sure every student has that opportunity at least once.”

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