International Engineering Program (IEP)
2012 Heiskell Award Winner: Study Abroad
Nomination submitted by: Sigrid Berka, Executive Director, International Engineering
The University of Rhode Island's groundbreaking International Engineering Program (IEP) serves as a model for engineering and language educators across the entire country. The concept is simple: it is a five-year dual degree bachelor's program through which students simultaneously earn a BS in an engineering discipline and a BA in a foreign language. In their fourth year, students study language, culture, and engineering courses in the target language at top engineering partner schools in Germany, France, Spain, and China. The second semester is spent interning for six month in a partner company abroad.
The IEP currently has a student enrollment of about 287 students total across the German, Spanish, French, and Chinese IEP. It also has a great track record of attracting women into engineering (about 30 percent of the IEP students are female as opposed to only 17 percent in the College of Engineering). Moreover, it features a high percentage of university-wide scholarship holders.
In times where language programs are being cut at schools and colleges across the country, the IEP serves as a powerful model for increasing foreign language enrollment. Students see a purpose, applicability, and clear career impact of their language studies. For example, ninety percent of the German language majors at URI are engineering students—proof of the impact the IEP has had on foreign language enrollment and a powerful testimony that the IEP is the main driver of internationalizing the campus. Pairing language and cultural studies with another academic program gives students opportunities at global companies with offices in the U.S. and around the world through the five-year dual degree IEP program.