Conference Dates

April 6-11, 2003


There are many driving forces for the preparation of engineering students for international practice. Engineers must design and develop products for multinational markets. Materials and components must be sought worldwide to be competitive. Engineers may practice directly in foreign countries for part of a career. Multinational company engineers must work with international teams. Several basic elements are needed to prepare engineers for international practice: foreign language proficiency, cultural background development, international business knowledge, and international technical knowledge. Further detailed descriptions of what is needed are provided by the Institute for International Education and the US Foreign Service Officer Program. Some engineering schools currently employ one or more of the following mechanisms to prepare their students for international practice: • Traditional study abroad programs • Study abroad plus language • Electronic trans-national teams • Group term abroad • Double degree approach • Engineering cultures study • Engineers without borders • Technical internships abroad Currently only a very small percentage of US engineering students participate in any of these mechanisms for international experience. Only 4139 engineering students studied abroad in 1999-2000, for example. Electronic experiences, which can be scaled up more easily than study or work abroad, may provide one way to increase this low percentage. One major situation that needs improvement is the expansion of international experiences for engineering faculty members.