MDE Students Take Part in Short Term Study Abroad Trip to Australia
|Event Date:||April 12, 2017|
“Framing every detail of this study abroad trip around a how engineers experience fieldwork helped us as faculty focus in on the critical enduring understandings we wanted our MDE students to take away from the setting,” said Dr. Pilotte. “With carefully intertwined cultural, technical, and professional learning contexts, it became more than just a week away from Purdue visiting a great location – it evolved into an opportunity for students to test preparedness for their engineering careers awaiting them.”
But it wasn’t strictly business for the students. Students enjoyed evenings of their spring break, touring museums, meeting koala bears, trying out the food of Australia’s diverse immigrant populations and were even given an impromptu lecture on indigenous seed pods by a local passerby. A trip to the famous Sydney Opera House was also a major highlight for many of the students.
An important aspect of the trip was to immerse the students in a foreign culture, to identify similarities and differences between the culture and their own, and to reflect upon themselves in order to learn valuable lessons within the engineering experience. The students were given a questionnaire that made them share how they preferred to communicate in situations of stress and fatigue, and one of the key grading parameters was that they show evidence of awareness of the social and global impact of the outcomes of their investigation.
“One of the things I noticed a lot was the aspect of community in Australia” said student Zach Beyer, a MDE student concentrating in acoustical engineering. “It seemed like they focused more on the community as a whole versus the American individualistic kind of mentality… I felt like that was very different.”
Dr. Pilotte said that semester long study abroad trips are common in other academic units and more recently in MDE, however this was the first short term trip in MDE history. “We are happy we had the opportunity to innovate something new in the space of study abroad experiences for MDE. From here, it is up to student word of mouth to see if the program gains traction to repeat again next year.”