Global Engineering Seeks Engagement at all Levels

Globalization and international competition demands engineers who are comfortable with other cultures.

What does it mean to be a global engineer? Rabi H. Mohtar, director of Purdue’s Global Engineering Program (GEP), has an answer. And it is one that goes far beyond traditional definitions. It includes immersion in other cultures that surpasses the traditional concept of study abroad and is broadened to include complete engagement with other cultures from the undergraduate level to the most senior professors.

“It is our belief that preeminence in global engineering comes through engagement of the international community and in sustaining our presence and leadership where we are needed the most,” says Mohtar, who is a professor of agricultural and biological engineering and the recipient of the 2008 Purdue University Agricultural Research Award.

With help from GEP, Purdue Engineering will continue to make a difference in the world but will do so with even more impact, Mohtar says. This will happen by training well-rounded global engineers who assume international leadership roles, leading in research discoveries on issues of global concern, and taking responsibility for international development where appropriate technology is needed.

The United States currently spends $329B a year on research and development, the equivalent of 31 percent of the world’s total expenditures, according to Mohtar. By 2030, that number is expected to dip to 18 percent. Mohtar is determined to reverse that trend by taking an integrative approach ranging from finding a way for any student—regardless of financial ability—to engage in overseas study to an innovative database that matches researchers with international development projects.

“The rising globalization trends, international competition, and the changing societal, professional, and global landscapes for engineering graduates call for action towards integrated strategies in learning, discoveries, and engagement to prepare engineers for the future and to claim the position that engineering once had in society,” Mohtar says.

–Linda Terhune