Transatlantic Automotive Technology (TransAuto TEC) Project 

2003 Heiskell Award Winner: Study Abroad

Nomination submitted by: Marie R. Martin, Ph.D., Associate Dean of International/Intercultural Studies

Program Mission 
The TransAutoTEC Project integrates an international dimension of study into the traditional vocational curriculum of automotive technology. This project unites the practice of transatlantic exchanges and distance learning to establish an international dimension often not available in this field of vocational education. "The faculty members have designed a project with the lifestyle and the limitations of the technical college students in mind to maximize the international influence for all students," says David L. Buettner, President of Fox Valley Technical College.

TransAutoTEC focuses upon familiarizing students with the similarities and difference of the U.S. and European automobile industries and building student-centered international experiences and relationships between associate degree automotive technology students and faculty. Using Web-based technologies, students and faculty in three U.S. community/technical colleges linked with the GM Automotive Service Educational Program (ASEP) teach and learn collaboratively with European apprentice students and faculty linked with the Volkswagen Corporation. Faculty in partner colleges synchronize the instruction of selected units using common Web-based multimedia learning resources creating a virtual transatlantic classroom with internationally integrated peer-based learning opportunities. Subsequently, transatlantic student and faculty exchanges will reinforce the relationships made possible by technology, promote cultural experiences, and continue collaborative learning in automotive technology.

"Our faculty members believe that creative international experience, which may appear minimal by comparison to semester or yearlong foreign travel, may be life changing for students who frequently have not ventured far from their Midwestern hometowns," says Buettner. For the TransAutoTEC mobile students, the exchange experience is an intense month of activities including staying with a host family and linking with foreign automotive students in the classroom and the workplace.