Think about this: the College of Engineering Study Abroad Program offers students the chance to enhance their education, meet colleagues from many foreign countries, make international connections, learn about foreign societies, visit natural and cultural wonders, broaden their minds, taste enticing new cuisines, become citizens of the world, and view life with a panoramic new vision. What could be better? But the key is to start planning right now!
A semester abroad can expose students to all types of opportunities to explore for the junior and senior years. “By starting the discussion and investigating the options available in advance, one can open the world,” says Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Advising Gregory Brown. “The plan doesn’t have to be complete during the first year, but if there is an interest knowing your options going into the summer you have more time to plan later.”
As an engineering undergraduate, you are eligible to study abroad for a semester, a summer, or a winter, depending on your engineering discipline. The highly structured, sequential nature of an engineering curriculum is often the biggest obstacle to students studying abroad for a semester. Early planning is the key to making a semester abroad happen!
With advanced planning, more than 30 UMass engineering students in all disciplines are currently studying abroad for a semester, taking some of the 130 approved engineering and engineering-related courses at universities in Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK.
One good example of a very productive study abroad experience was that of undergraduate Abigail Risse of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. She spent the spring and summer of 2018 in Spain, took two summer courses to stay on track, and completed an internship through a study abroad program known as CISabroad.
“I lived in an apartment with other study abroad students who went to University of Barcelona,” explains Risse. “But for me, I stated my interests in biomedical engineering and prosthesis at the beginning of my application for CISabroad, and they placed me at Instituto Técnico Ortopédico, which was essentially an active doctor’s office in the front, taking people with orthopedic issues including those involving prosthesis, and a manufacturing facility in the back, where all of the personalized devices and prosthetic devices were made.”
As Risse adds, “I was placed in the back with the other manufacturing employees. This experience was so interesting because these people manufactured and made improvements to these devices as well as taking their own patients, but were not considered doctors. Actually, only two out of these seven guys had college degrees. My place in all of this included being involved in both the front and the back environments. We, as an office, were also the official orthopedic provider for FC Barcelona, so I actually got to perform a hip scan on [a patient]…The entire experience was surreal.”
Recognizing that education abroad is challenging for some majors, the International Programs Office at UMass Amherst (IPO) found new partners to give engineering students opportunities for international experiences.
IPO works with an ever-growing number of international university partners offering engineering courses, including (but certainly not limited to): Heriot Watt University in Scotland and Malaysia, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Swansea University and University College London in the United Kingdom, the University of Cape Town in South Africa, University College Dublin and University College Cork in Ireland, Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Queensland University in Australia. As a result, in the spring of 2018, 38 Engineering students took two or more engineering courses abroad, compared with seven in 2014-15.
How do you get started on your international adventure?
- Carefully read the information on the Study Abroad website.
- Attend a Study Abroad Essentials meeting, held twice a day at 70 Butterfield Terrace (see schedule on Study Abroad website).
- Schedule an appointment with Stacy Lutsch, IPO Director of Academic Initiatives, or an IPO Peer Advisor, during office hours in Engineering (126 Marston) via our on-line appointment booking system. Note that you must attend an Essentials meeting before scheduling an advising appointment.
Here are a few examples of possible Study Abroad scenarios for various engineering majors. Civil and Environmental Engineering majors can spend a semester at Heriot Watt University, the University College Cork, the University College Dublin, or Swansea University.
Chemical Engineering majors might spend a semester at Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Heriot Watt University, University College of London, the University of Glasgow, or CEA Paris.
Computer Systems and Electrical Engineering majors could spend a semester at the University of Queensland, Deakin University (Australia), University of Wollongong (Australia), University of Cape Town, ISA Columbia, University of Auckland, or Auckland University of Technology.
Finally, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering majors can spend a semester at Auckland University of Technology, University College Dublin, CEA French Riviera, Heriot Watt University, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, or University of Swansea.
If these opportunities inspire the Marco Polo or Amelia Earhart in you, don’t hesitate to start getting engaged in the Study Abroad process. By any measure of your education, Study Abroad is your chance for the adventure of a lifetime! (October 2018)