In October 2013, I took a 15-day trip to five cities, three countries and six hotels. While it was somewhat exhausting, it was also very productive in our efforts to build partnerships with international universities and students.
I started the trip with Daji Qiao, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, attending the International Graduate Scholarship Fair hosted by the China Scholarship Council. The fair was spread out to three different sites: Beijing, Harbin, and Shanghai, and we met with top Chinese students to promote our graduate programs and recruit them as graduate students.
The students who attended the fair are eligible for a stipend from the China Scholarship Council, which covers all the costs associated with studying internationally except for tuition. This makes the opportunity more accessible for these students and is a great way for us to bring high-quality, international graduate students to Iowa State.
We were able to meet with these students face-to-face and look at their academic records, giving us a good understanding of their motivations and sense of how they would fit in with our programs. Ultimately, we encouraged many students to apply and hope to see good results from our efforts.
After that, I visited the National Tsing Hua University of Taiwan, where we have an internship program. I saw the dormitories, town, campus and laboratories, as well as talked to faculty members and program coordinators. This internship is especially exciting because the students who participate get to study with a professor for two months. I look forward to seeing it grow.
My trip ended in Thailand at Chulalongkorn University, one of the best universities in central Bangkok. They have extended the partnership we have with them to teach courses in English that aren’t part of the traditional offerings, giving students more opportunities to learn subjects of interest.
Reflecting on trips of this nature always leaves me feeling excited about the great international experiences available for our students. As we look to increase our graduate enrollment and introduce students to a variety of cultures, both sides of the exchange program participate in a great deal of learning and growing that students can extend into their future careers.
About the author
Mufit Akinc, professor in charge of international engagement, has been a faculty member at Iowa State since 1981. He is a professor of materials science and engineering and has led the college’s international engagement initiative since 2010. He also holds a courtesy appointment in chemical and biological engineering, and is an associate scientist for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory.