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Press Release  
Release Date: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 10:46 AM
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By Sholnn Freeman
Office of University Communications
May 3, 2012      
Howard GEAR UP Overseas Student Research Initiative Enters Second Year
The manager of the Nairobi Sewage Treatment Plant addresses Howard University chemical engineering students researchers (Lauren Reed, Alanna Wallace, Shahee Parker).

WASHINGTON – A university in Thailand has been added to the list of international institutions that will host Howard University engineering and science research students this year under the Global Education, Awareness and Research Undergraduate Program, also known as GEAR UP.

19 students will participate this summer in GEAR UP as the program moves into its second year. Last year, students in the program fanned out across the globe to study a range of engineering topics, including human-computer interface in the Philippines and online denial-of-service attacks in Chile. They also studied urban transportation and flood control in Indonesia, wind and solar power in rural Ethiopian villages, and recycling and urban water quality in Kenya.

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

“Considering the growing minority population nationally and in higher education, it is critical that minority students are prepared to navigate the challenges that arise as a result of the changing dynamics of the interconnected global community,” said Lorraine Fleming, Ph.D., professor of civil engineering and director of GEAR UP. 

Unfortunately, Fleming said minority students are usually the least likely to gain experiences studying abroad. The GEAR UP program seeks to broaden their perspectives by providing opportunities to conduct overseas research, she said.

Adegboyega Akinsiku, a junior computer engineering major, will conduct research in the Philippines.

“This program provides an awesome opportunity for undergraduate students to participate in research abroad,” said Akinsiku. “Our work at Ateneo de Manila University offers a strong foundation in Human-Computer Interaction, an area of interest for me. My career plans include using applied Human-Computer Interaction to help people with disability.”

This year, GEAR Up has expanded to Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University. At the school, Howard students will study various electrical and mechanical engineering projects that are currently under development.  Chulalongkorn joins the five established partner universities from 2011. Howard students will return to study at those institutions. They are the University of Indonesia; Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines); Universidad Santo Tomás (Chile); Bahir Dar University (Ethiopia); and University of Nairobi (Kenya).
Fleming said the program is already a success.

 “We can see the success of this program by simply talking to the students who participated last year,” said Fleming.  “We see that they have developed a positive outlook on the world and on the country they visited. They have fully embraced the idea of engineers conducting research for the benefit of society and the world. Many of these students expressed the desire to continue in the program and some have actually applied to participate again this year.”

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.

About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, two Truman Scholars, a Marshall Scholar, 24 Fulbright Scholars and 11 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University's Web site at

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