The University of Wyoming is among seven schools — three from the United States, two from Brazil, and one each in Colombia and Mexico — to receive grant money for collaborative research projects, and to increase bilateral mobility of U.S., Latin American and Caribbean students through study abroad program development.
UW is one of the latest recipients of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund. The grant aims to promote new higher education partnerships in engineering, physics, geology and geophysics. It is sponsored by ExxonMobil and is part of a larger grant program through the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas and NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The 100,000 Strong program’s goal is to increase the annual number of U.S. students studying in Latin America and the Caribbean to 100,000, and bring 100,000 Latin American and Caribbean students to the U.S. by 2020.
UW will partner with Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY), Mérida, Mexico, on a project, titled “Enhancing International Exchanges between engineering students at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY) in Mérida, Mexico.”
The demand for engineering projects to become more global and the need for engineering graduates to have international exchange experience have motivated UW and UADY to build on their existing partnership by enhancing exchange programs and opportunities in civil engineering, say Mary Katherine Scott and Jennifer Tanner Eisenhauer, the leads on the grant proposal.
Tanner Eisenhauer, a civil and architectural engineering associate professor, says students from Mexico will travel to UW to gain perspectives on civil and structural engineering practices, and participate in hands-on learning experiences in beam and wall designs based on U.S. masonry codes. UW students will then travel to Mexico to study engineering aspects of Mayan ruins and learn about alternative construction methods and cultural preservation practices of Spanish colonial period architecture.
“With the engineering field becoming more global, the ability for UW students to interact with colleagues from different cultures becomes even more important,” she adds.
“Creating opportunities for more students to gain international experiences is one of UW’s chief priorities,” says Scott, acting director of the International Programs Office. “This study abroad course design is a partnership that has been designed with bilateral mobility at its core. Students from both institutions will have the chance to work with international students and professors in myriad ways, including field visits, seminars and group projects.”
Scott says the collaborative model will encourage new ways of thinking, global perspectives and the development of the intercultural communication and professional skills students need to succeed beyond the classroom.
“We are excited to be partnering with UADY on this pilot of a group course exchange program, and foresee great potential for collaboration in the future,” she adds.
Helping secure the grant with Scott and Tanner Eisenhauer were Dennis Coon, professor of mechanical engineering; Kevin Befus, assistant professor in civil engineering; and Shawn Bunning, International Programs project coordinator.
Innovation Fund grants fuel strategic new partnerships among higher education institutions in the United States and the rest of the Western Hemisphere to create innovative and sustainable student exchange and training programs. Since its inception in January 2014, the Innovation Fund grants have been building institutional capacity, increasing student mobility within the Americas, and enhancing regional education cooperation and competitiveness.
This is the third in four of Innovation Fund grant competitions supported by ExxonMobil. With a commitment in 2014 of $1 million, ExxonMobil has facilitated 24 new higher education partnerships to date. The partnerships between 24 U.S. universities and community colleges in 16 U.S. states and 28 higher education institutions in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana and Mexico are providing more study opportunities for students in various fields.