Study abroad opportunity provides perspective, insight

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Daniel Salahuddin awoke from a nap in the Zachry Engineering Center two years ago and saw a flyer on the wall that caught his eye. The flyer was advertising a study abroad opportunity in Beijing, China.

The Queens, New York, native always wanted to travel, but China was never on his list. The flyer was advertising a two-week program that would count as a class credit for petroleum production systems.

A petroleum engineering major, Salahuddin knew he needed to take that class. Through the study abroad program he could complete it in two weeks while also gaining the experience of a lifetime on the other side of the world. 

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The junior applied and was accepted into the 2015 summer course. It was an experience he said he will never forget.

“It was one of the best trips of my life,” he said. “I would not have expected any of that, just because I never thought about going to Beijing.”

Salahuddin said the petroleum course specializes in extracting oil from reservoirs in the most cost effective way.

“We learned a lot about the production aspect of things,” he said. “We also got to see an oil field.”

The importance of studying abroad

Director for Engineering Global Programs, Maria Alves, said it’s crucial that students are prepared to join the job market in today’s global economic environment.

“The need to prepare students ready to work in a global environment is not only stated by the National Academy of Engineering, but also by the different companies we interact with on a daily basis,” she said. “We want students to come back from those study abroad experiences with an appreciation for the different cultures and a deeper understanding of their engineering fields in different countries.”

Alves said the programs are designed to help students grow personally and professionally. That’s certainly what the outcome was for Salahuddin and he encourages other students to apply for the program.

Alves said there are more than 40 study abroad programs in more than 20 countries available for engineering students. The programs range from one-week to semester-long courses. Last year, 700 engineering students studied abroad. The goal of the program is to have 2,000 students study abroad every year.

The end result, Alves said, is industry-prepared individuals.

“A study conducted by two researchers with centers for International Business Education and Research found that almost 40 percent of US companies surveyed missed international business opportunities because of a lack of internationally competent personnel,” she said. “Given that 95 percent of consumers live outside of the United States, the authors articulate why it is important for students to gain international experience.”

The mission of the Engineering Global Programs is to create and implement opportunities for students to develop the skills to become global citizens, global engineers and global leaders.

For more information about this study abroad opportunity in China, visit the Engineering Global Programs website.