Keywords: curriculum, study abroad, collaboration
The need for developing global competency in engineering students has received considerable attention over the past several years and a number of high-profile educational projects have been initiated to address these needs. Many of these initiatives require significant coordination and investment of time and human resources to be effective. One of the biggest challenges college’s face to incorporate new initiatives is how to authentically incorporate the content and experiences in an overly constrained curriculum.
At the University of Cincinnati the course “The Global Technical Workforce” was introduced in 2016 to provide specific opportunities for students to develop global competencies and thus better serve the technical workforce. The course provides a needed first step to adding opportunities for students without requiring substantial investments in resources or significant changes to curricula. The course was designed to meet required general education requirements for diversity and culture and social and ethical issues (already part of the engineering curriculum) while addressing the new global competencies. The course content and experiences focus on teams, communication, cultural competence, and technology for collaboration. The course also requires students to participate in a short-term, faculty-led study abroad.
The University has identified strategic global partners and seeks to foster greater ties with those partners. The travel abroad is coordinated with one of the strategic partners which increases the interaction between the partners and provides local knowledge for industry and cultural visits. During the trip, UC students interact with local students and local industries to benchmark what they have learned through the course.
The approach taken is easily replicable at other engineering colleges and others will benefit from lessons learned from our experiences. The paper describes: the course structure and learning outcomes, pedagogical approach and changes incorporated based on lessons learned in the first two years of implementation, and the format and challenges in the study-abroad trips. Student evaluation of the course and of the study abroad trips are presented along with reflections of student learning.
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