Educating Students for the Global Marketplace
In this issue, we report on two new international education partnerships for the Jacobs School . The first is an agreement with Thailand to provide biomedical engineering education for Thai students. Another is an initiative with the University of Manitoba and Canadian Network of Centres of Excellence on Intelligent Sensing for Innovative Structures (ISIS Canada Research Network) which allows for graduate student exchange and research collaboration, particularly in composites and structural health monitoring.
These latest agreements represent a new effort by UCSD and the Jacobs School to proactively develop and formalize international education opportunities. Our students— tomorrow's technology leaders—need to understand that engineering no longer happens in isolated centers, but rather in a global innovation environment. Engineers must become more cognizant of the cultures beyond our borders. It will be quite natural for our alumni to spend part of their working life in China , Japan , India or Europe , and to manage a workforce that may be dispersed across different time zones.
Our faculty have always worked with colleagues throughout the world, and their collaborations enrich our students' experiences, particularly at the graduate level. Moreover, 37 percent of our graduate students come from countries outside the U.S. , and through this diverse mix, our students can share their cultures with each other.
One of our challenges is how to provide undergraduate students with similar opportunities. UCSD's new PRIME (Pacific Rim Undergraduate Research Experiences) program, which has undergraduates living and working for nine summer weeks in a host country, is an excellent model program. In 2004, eight engineering students participated, working on defined research projects at Osaka University in Japan , the National Center for High-performance Computing in Taiwan , and Monash University in Australia . The program will be expanded this summer with as many as 18 UCSD students traveling to four countries.
When I visited Tibet and China last August to consult on their ambitious bridge construction projects, I was duly impressed by the sophistication of their infrastructure, and by the sheer volume of their productivity. It is clear to me that in order for the U.S. to stay competitive, we must help our students gain a broader understanding of engineering, both from the perspective of the world's economic leaders, and from the perspective of the developing countries that are poised to become the greatest beneficiaries of technology innovation. As one of the nation's premier engineering schools, we at the Jacobs School must continue to lead and ensure the global relevance of our engineering education.