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UT Tickle College of Engineering is expanding its Study Abroad programs to Italy

The Southeastern Conference (SEC) engineering colleges, which includes the University of Tennessee Tickle College of Engineering, has signed an exchange agreement with the Turin Polytechnic (Politecnico di Torino). The agreement will allow University of Tennessee students to study at Torino, one of the best schools in Europe, for a semester.

“I think that our students will have a tremendous experience. Politecnico di Torino is, in one ranking, considered 7th in Europe. Their degree program in Automotive Engineering is also very well known. The University is situated next to Fiat, and the faculty has a close relationship with Fiat. While there, we saw an exhibition where engineering students showed their work on Formula I racing cars. Students are involved in various automotive projects. They are very active in the mechanical engineering program and that was mainly the area where we focused our discussion. Campus has excellent lab facilities and very attractive student housing.” Dr. Masood Parang, professor and Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs says.

Exhibition put out by the Automotive Engineering students
Exhibition put out by the Automotive Engineering students

Dr. Parang traveled to Italy in September 2009 where he participated in the signing of a memorandum of understanding between SEC Engineering Colleges and their Italian counterpart.  In addition to Torino, the UT Tickle College of Engineering is in the process of developing a bilateral agreement with Milan Polytechnic (Politecnico di Milano).

“Politecnico di Milano is among the top universities in Europe. They have several campuses, with two in Milan.  They have great facilities for teaching and research. In their Baviso campus they have  large wind tunnel test facility with room-size test sections to test large models or prototypes. They also have various teaching labs. We would like to have a student exchange program and possibly faculty research cooperation,” Dr. Parang says.

He explains that in Italy, UT engineering students would be able to take selected engineering courses in English and Italian language classes.

“They would be able to take upper division engineering classes – courses that they could also transfer to UT as technical elective courses. In our discussions with faculty members it became clear that offering these courses in English will not be a problem. Language courses will be very intensive and would include additional cultural experiences such as traveling, or attending cultural events” Dr. Parang says.

He explains that the agreements are on the basis of student exchanges where Italian students would be coming to UT in a fall term and American students would go to Italy in a spring term.  Dr. Parang stresses that international experience is very important for engineering students.

“Although there are different types of international experiences, taking courses abroad is a more robust experience. Students will have a cultural experience that is novel and interesting and they also get to know reasonably well other engineering students and faculty. They are getting a global education, critical in today’s word; and learning languages, which are important for a well-rounded education and modern global communication. These are the reasons why an international experience is now a requirement in the Honors program,” he says.

In the future, the UT Tickle College of Engineering is planning to expand study abroad programs to the United Kingdom and Spain.  Dr. Parang explains that due to the changed circumstances in globalized education, there will be an explosion of such programs.

“Quality of our students is growing. Their needs are different. Global education and international experience are in the forefront of many peer and great universities. A large number of excellent universities has campuses outside the United States. Relationships with good universities in Asia and Europe are expanding. So the need for study abroad programs is really growing. That’s an area we would like to be very active and take a leading role in our region. We now have only about 5% of engineering students who participate in a program with an international experience and that is planned to change significantly in the near future,” Dr. Parang says.

It is expected that the first UT students will begin their programs is Italy in spring 2011. The tuition will be the same as UT tuition. Scholarships are available and will be offered on a competitive basis.

Automotive Engineering Exhibit
Exhibition put out by the Automotive Engineering students

Exhibition by Automotive Engineering Students
Exhibition put out by the Automotive Engineering students

Dr. Parang at Exhibit
Dr. Parang visiting students’ exhibition