College of Engineering to Offer Study Abroad in Peru
October 18, 2012 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
Undergraduate engineering students interested in sustainability will soon have the opportunity to study abroad in Peru for free.
The program, made possible by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of State, will mark the University's first official study abroad ties to the country and the Universidad de Piura (UDEP), with campuses in Piura and Lima. The new program is under the overall Agreement of Cooperation signed in July 2012 between UTEP and UDEP.
Civil engineering professor and principal investigator Carlos Ferregut, Ph.D., said engineering programs rarely provide students opportunities for language and cultural immersion in other countries. This happens in spite of the fact that U.S. engineers are likely to work in multinational and transnational corporations around the globe.
"I think it's important that students learn how to manage themselves and work out of their comfort zone – to prove to themselves that they can be successful in an environment other than what they're familiar with," Ferregut said.
The first trip will take place next summer. Participating students can expect the courses to be taught in Spanish by UTEP faculty. The program also plans to take students to Machu Picchu in Cusco to study their infrastructure network, including its hydraulics and roads, which are "very well-planned and a good example of sustainability," Ferregut said.
Carlos Chang, Ph.D., assistant professor of civil engineering at UTEP, who is originally from Peru, is responsible for coordinating the local activities with UDEP. Chang will travel with 15 students on the four-week study abroad trip next year. Heidi Taboada, Ph.D., Jose Espiritu, Ph.D., Noe Vargas, Ph.D. and Kelvin Cheu, Ph.D. will join Ferregut and Chang in Piura to offer the Sustainability Engineering program.
"The Incas and the Peruvian culture have a lot of infrastructure that have passed the tests of time. There are also tons of natural resources in Piura, like oil and ethanol, that relate to energy and sustainability," Chang said. "We're going to be learning from the past and paving the way for the future by looking at sustainable engineering practices which are environmental friendly and contribute to the social, economic, and cultural development of the region."
Two other major contributors to the new program are Susana Vegas, dean of the engineering faculty at UDEP, and Niamh Minion, a study abroad coordinator at UTEP.
The new study abroad option goes hand-in-hand with the College of Engineering's goal to have at least 10 percent of graduating students travel and study outside the U.S. while attending the University.
The agreement signed in July will promote additional institutional exchanges between the universities such as joint research projections, symposiums and conferences.