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By Kerry-Ann Hamilton
University News
July 19, 2011

New Initiative Prepares Engineers to Solve Global Problems

Courtesy Photo - Bahir Dar University President Dr Bayile Damte (center) with members of the Howard University delegation of students and faculty in Ethiopia.

WASHINGTON – Nearly two dozen Howard University engineering students have fanned out to universities in five countries over three continents to conduct research this summer. The students are part of the Global Education, Awareness and Research Undergraduate Program, known as GEAR UP.

The initiative is spearheaded by the College of Engineering, Architecture and Computer Sciences (CEACS) and supported by the National Science Foundation. The goal is to increase the global engagement of engineering college graduates by stepping up coordination of teaching and research initiatives related to international studies.

Currently, Howard students are studying at the following institutions: the University of Indonesia; Anteneo de Manila University (Philippines); Universidad Andres Bello (Chile); Bahir Dar University (Ethiopia); and University of Nairobi (Kenya). Additional research sites in Africa and South America are planned.

University officials expect the GEAR UP initiative to establish long-standing partnerships between Howard engineering faculty and students and their counterparts at overseas institutions. The partnerships would facilitate student participation in international research projects.

“The global education of this generation of engineering students is essential, if not crucial, to meet engineering challenges and make the world a more technologically advanced, connected and sustainable place to live,” said Lorraine Fleming, Ph.D., professor of civil engineering and director of GEAR UP.

Fleming noted that the Institute for International Educations estimates that only 4.7 percent of engineering graduates have had study abroad experiences. For African-American students, the percentage is even smaller.

GEAR UP seeks to narrow that gap, Fleming said, by improving the international preparation of Howard engineering students. She said the program would serve as a model for other institutions with similar goals. 

The GEAR UP program is one of a number of initiatives at Howard that exemplify President Sidney A. Ribeau’s vision to expand the University’s international footprint. Others include study abroad programs in the College of Arts and Sciences and Chinese cultural exchange projects undertaking by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

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