A group of engineering students have taken up a module run by Texas A&M University, which involves working remotely with fellow engineers overseas, thanks to a new initiative by the College of Engineering, which is founded on Swansea University’s Texas links.
The five students are following a module called Global Engineering Design, which forms part of their third-year project. They study relevant theory online and remotely join live and interactive lectures broadcast from Texas.
They have also just begun work on team design challenges with students at Texas A&M, using online platforms to collaborate.
Each year the design challenges are different and aligned to solve industrial problems or progress university research projects. In the 2019/20 academic year the students focused on sustainability, designing “active buildings” for different countries based on designs conceived and built at Swansea.
This year the Swansea students are distributed into three different international teams that are solving challenges related to carbon capture and storage, a globally vital research area combating climate change. The design challenges finish in December 2020, when students must submit an end of project report and give a presentation about their work.
Texas A&M is one of the top universities in the US, with around 70,000 students. It places great emphasis on overseas links, hence its longstanding partnership with Swansea University, which brings benefits to researchers and students alike.
While the Covid 19 pandemic has accelerated the quest for new ways to teach and collaborate, the College of Engineering team had already been developing this initiative and others. The College has set up an active learning studio on campus which makes it easier for Swansea students to work with other teams based elsewhere in the UK and overseas.
The engineering module is co-led by Professor Paul Holland and Professor Enrico Andreoli of the College of Engineering, with other academics mentoring each Swansea student.
Ben Woods, one of the Swansea engineering students who helped pilot the module in 2019/20, said:
“The module sits alongside my EG-353 module, the individual project for third year students, allowing me to develop additional skills in working across cultural, time, national and multidisciplinary boundaries. The module grants me an opportunity to bolster my future career prospects giving me a ‘point of difference’.”
Professor Paul Holland of Swansea University College of Engineering said:
“This is an opportunity for anyone interested in addressing global engineering challenges in collaboration with students from other countries. It is also a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the nuances of intercultural communication, and how to work effectively with others from different backgrounds.
Dr Maria Alves, Senior Director of Engineering Global Programmes at Texas A&M University, said:
“Having international projects and the interaction of students from different countries is a key component of this global module. Therefore it is not only a pleasure but also highly beneficial to have Swansea Engineering as an official partner. We piloted this collaboration last fall and saw a very positive impact on our students. We are working together again this fall and now look forward to a more formal and larger partnership in the global engineering design module. Working together on programs such as this is the way to prepare our students to lead in this global industry and society”
Dr Caroline Coleman Davies, manager of the Swansea University Texas programme, added:
“This new collaboration with A&M shows the value of our Texas programme and how it is creating new opportunities and experiences for our students”.