Engineering is becoming an increasing global profession, with high demands for engineers across the world. This highly competitive market requires college graduates to have something that makes them stand out. Studying abroad is a great resume builder and lets future employers know you’re willing to be more global. As an engineering major it’s important to consider the following factors as you plan for your study abroad experience.
When to Study Abroad:
If you currently attend an institution that requires you to take general education classes in conjunction with your major, it might be wise to study abroad sophomore or junior year. Work with your advisor to ensure that core credits you take abroad, fulfill gen-ed requirements at your home institution. Waiting to go abroad late junior year or even senior year may not leave you with the flexibility you need to fulfill your credit requirements.
In addition to core credits, consider taking engineering classes while you’re overseas. By working closely with your advisor you may find engineering courses abroad that can fulfill some of the requirements toward your major. Even if you can’t find courses that fulfill specific requirements, consider the benefits of taking engineering elective credits abroad. Gaining a more global perspective on your chosen field of study and being able to network with future engineers in another country will certainly help to give you an edge after you graduate. No matter what field of engineering you are pursuing, you can find a program that offers relevant coursework for you. For example, at the University of West Indies, St. Augustine in Trinidad & Tobago you can take courses in chemical, civil, electrical, industrial, manufacturing, and mechanical engineering, as well as in material science, petroleum geoscience, and urban and regional planning. Start thinking about going abroad sooner rather than later; a little planning goes a long way!
If your native language is English, it may make sense to attend a program that teaches its courses in English – especially harder courses like Engineering! If you do decide to take lower-level engineering courses abroad, learning in your native dialect will make understanding content much easier. BCA offers English-taught engineering programs in Trinidad & Tobago, New Zealand and Ireland.
If you have a second language or are looking to fulfill a language minor, check out programs that offer courses taught in that language. For example, the BCA Quito, Ecuador program partners with USFQ which teaches classes completely in Spanish. The program also offers housing with a local host family. This type of immersion experience will not only help you to practice every-day Spanish with your host family, it will also provide you with an opportunity to expand your vocabulary with engineering terminology and phrasing. This skill could look very good on a resume after college. Make sure to evaluate programs by what the language of instruction is when sorting through your options.
Studying abroad in itself is a good resume builder, but adding an internship or volunteer experience to studying abroad looks even better. Consider programs that offer internship or volunteer opportunities that will help you gain new skills, give back to your host community, and provide you with the chance to make international relationships. For example, in BCA’s Dunedin, New Zealand program, students can volunteer with organizations like the Orokonoui Ecosanctuary. Here, students help plant and weed, assist with pest and fence monitoring, track building and maintenance, and maintain regular care of the habitat areas. This would be a great opportunity for environmental, agricultural or sustainability engineering majors.
Another area to seek experience is through research programs. On BCA’s Quito, Ecuador program, students have the option of applying for the Latitude Zero: Ecuador Research Initiative (LOERI). This research opportunity is available to undergrads who are abroad for a semester or a year. Students are paired with a faculty member from Universidad San Francisco de Quito, and assist them in completing research in their field. Availability varies each semester based on the current research and faculty, however, potential areas of research could be renewable energy, mechanical engineering, climate change, biotechnology and a range of other subjects. Look through all your volunteer, internship and research options when considering a study abroad program.
Study Abroad Programs for your major:
If you’re unsure of where to begin looking when researching study abroad programs, begin by searching for programs that fit your major. Consult your academic advisor to see when you could best fit a summer, semester or year abroad into your schedule. Look at courses required for your engineering major and general education. Think about the language you want instruction in. Beef up your resume by applying to an internship or other opportunity on your host campus. The world is far too vast and unique to never see – take time now to go experience it!
As an engineering major these programs are recommended for you:
Dublin, Ireland (Summer & Semester Programs available)
Dunedin, New Zealand (Internship, Volunteer, and Independent Research opportunities)
Quito, Ecuador (Internships, Volunteer & Research opportunities)
St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago (Volunteer opportunities)