With over 150 attendees, this year’s Colloquium on International Engineering Education attracted the largest number of participants ever, as well as many first-time attendees and veterans in the field of engineering education. The two day Colloquium organized by IIE and DAAD in New York City brought together representatives of more than 100 universities, including over 25 foreign institutions, that are currently training the next generation of global engineers, as well as NGO and government leaders to examine topics related to engineering education and preparing students for the engineering workforce.
The theme of this year’s Colloquium, “Building International Strategic Partnerships” allowed participants to focus on several important topics including: the role of industry, specifically exploring how industry interests align with academic and research interests; the role of language when thinking about international opportunities for engineering students; ways to measure the success of international engineering programs and what is required to scale a program; and the definition of a “globally competent” engineer. We heard from experts in the field on how to develop new partnerships, build on existing ones, and how to leverage these partnerships to expand opportunities for engineering students.
The keynote speech delivered by Dra. Martha Navarro, Director General of Technical and Scientific Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico, highlighted new opportunities and partnerships being created between Mexico and other countries at different levels, ranging from short-term programs allowing Mexican students to come to the U.S. to long-term bi-national opportunities.
Participants came to the colloquium with different goals and motivations, some just getting started on developing programs at their universities, some looking to grow their program portfolio, and others looking for concrete benchmarking and assessment tools.
The event featured speakers who spoke to how the field of engineering is at the forefront of international education with more U.S. engineering students having an international experience than ever before due to programs such as Fulbright, Whitaker, RISE, and other funding opportunities. Consortium-based models were also discussed by representatives of the German Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS7), as a way to provide engineering students with more options abroad. The UAS7 consortium and IIE’s Global Engineering Education Exchange (Global E3) consortium are two examples on how to facilitate the exchange of US and international engineering students.
Two questions that we heard repeated multiple times were: 1) How should engineering students best articulate their study abroad or international experience to future employers? 2) How can an international experience complement the technical skills engineers need to have? Both these questions were discussed in great length during the session that focused on the German Dual Skills Model. Speakers noted that the concept of “dual training” where trainees split their days between classroom instruction at a vocational school and on-the-job time at a company (2-4 years, depending on the sector) is a model that has proven to work in Germany and gaining popularity in the United States.
Thank you to all the attendees, speakers, sponsors for your contributions, sharing best practices and being part of what was a rich dialogue over the two-day event. As we look forward next year’s Colloquium, we encourage all of you to take the information and ideas generated from the 2015 event, share it with your colleagues at your institutions, and start thinking about what you want to accomplish for your programs between now and Newport.
To view this year’s program and presentations, please visit www.iie.org/IEEColloquium.