2,017 miles, four weeks, countless experiences

Puerto Rico 2016Taking the class out of the classroom is becoming increasingly popular among summer courses. Students in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University studied 2,017 miles from the usual classrooms this summer to learn about engineering economics and real-time control.

The four-week journey included tours of a pharmaceutical company and a biomedical device manufacturing facility, a visit to the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez (UPRM), as well as hands-on research experiences.

Jeana Goodson, senior academic advisor in industrial and systems engineering, traveled with the group of 22 students during the first portion of the trip.

Puerto Rico Study Abroad 2016

“Study abroad trips are an excellent way for students to gain invaluable experiences that are not available in the traditional classroom setting,” Goodson said. “The Puerto Rico trip is a phenomenal opportunity for our students to observe research topics that are different from what we have available at Texas A&M.”

Students also enjoyed trips to the cities of Ponce and Old San Juan to take advantage of being in the unique culture and location, while making friends with other students from Texas A&M and UPRM. Joseph Clegg, a junior industrial and systems engineering student, would repeat the experiences given the opportunity.

“The best part of the trip was definitely the scenery Puerto Rico has and making memories with some new friends,” Clegg said. “The only thing I would change is my ability to speak more Spanish.”

Study abroad opportunities provide students with a first-hand experience of how others live around the world. Steven Houston, a senior industrial and systems engineering student, was originally born in Colombia. While he has grown up with an in-depth understanding of cultural differences between Latin American and the United States, he was enlightened from the moment he landed in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Trip 2016

“The best way I can explain my thoughts and perception of Puerto Rico is that the island has the best of both worlds, the convenience of being tied to the United States and the great culture of Latin America,” Houston said.

Houston recommends students participate in a study abroad program as early in their collegiate career as possible.

“I wish I could have gone on this study abroad earlier,” Houston said. “While I was there, it felt as if I was at home both in the United States and Colombia. I recommend that a student either do it after their freshman year, or ideally between their sophomore and junior year.”