Program Leadership

Global Engineering at the University of Iowa: Connecting Engineering Students With the World

  • Zach Smith (University of Iowa)
  • Amy Brewster (University of Iowa)
  • Megan Allen (University of Iowa)


Studying abroad is a valuable opportunity often overlooked by science and engineering majors. These students often imagine that because of their strict course plan, study abroad will interfere with their graduation. Not only is this untrue, but there are many benefits to studying abroad for engineering and science majors.

Consider some comments from students who have recently returned from a study abroad experience:

Studying abroad helped me to understand how engineering concepts are used in a variety of contexts. Seeing the culture and worldviews of a different country pushed me to investigate how growing up in the U.S. has dictated how I see the world.

My experience studying abroad was one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but it was the most rewarding and incredible few months of my life.

It was a step outside my comfort zone to travel abroad by myself for the first time, but easily the best decision I have made in college.

In an ever expanding global marketplace, employers are heavily weighing study abroad experience when considering applicants. Study abroad shows initiative, independence, and self-motivation. Also, the international experience is extremely valuable, as many companies and organizations are expanding overseas. Some employers even prefer study abroad experience to an internship of co-op. Study abroad looks very impressive on a resume, especially to the top employers and recruiters of UI College of Engineering graduates, 70 percent of whom have offices and locations overseas.

The UI College of Engineering is committed to the promotion and support of global learning opportunities for students, and has recently partnered with the UI office for International Programs to explore how to increase the number of students who participate in learning abroad experiences.

This session will highlight the Global Engineering initiative, a collaborative effort involving UI International Programs as well as staff and faculty from the UI College of Engineering. It is this collaboration that led to a movement away from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to a more tailored menu of global offerings and information to meet the needs of engineering students in each of our six majors, with an eye towards quality, accessibility, and affordability. We will outline our approach, including: relationship building efforts, collection and analysis of benchmarking information, strengthening of infrastructure, and promotion efforts. We will also highlight current initiatives and share future goals.

How to Cite:

Smith, Z. & Brewster, A. & Allen, M., (2014) “Global Engineering at the University of Iowa: Connecting Engineering Students With the World”, 2014 ASEE North Midwest Section Conference 2014(1), 1-12. doi:

Rights: Copyright © 2014, Zach Smith, Amy Brewster and Megan Allen

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Published on
17 Oct 2014
Peer Reviewed