Evolving Partnerships for Global Engineering Education: Before, During, and After COVID-19

Session Th1: 11:20 AM


This presentation will discuss the dynamic partnership formed between North Carolina State University’s College of Engineering and The GREEN Program. In particular, this session will highlight the inspiration for collaboration, logistics of our partnership, and importantly, how our partnership has evolved and strengthened throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, expanding to include long-term options for students that now include virtual study abroad and professional certificate programs. 


North Carolina State University and The GREEN Program formed a partnership in 2019, when the Director of Student Engagement in the College of Engineering, Brian Koehler, expressed interest in developing a more official relationship after their college had been sending students for years. TGP was selected as a key partnership to form due to the compatibility of our “impact” program initiatives, and focus on sustainability education to enhance the learning and careers of engineering students. Regarding the decision to form a partnership with The GREEN Program, Mr. Koehler reports: "TGP's experiences truly tie together two themes that we encourage from Day #1 here in our Wolfpack family -- High Impact experiences (e.g., International in Iceland) and the National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges (e.g., renewable energy)"


Since 2019, NCSU has conducted two faculty-led programs in Iceland with TGP during NCSU's Maymester term. One trip was led by Adam Culley in 2018, and one led by Javon Adams in 2019. NCSU usually sends between 10-15 students on the partnership program. NCSU also promotes all of TGP’s standard program locations to their students, and since 2019, North Carolina State University has sent 93 engineering students to undertake a “traditional”, travel-based TGP program in Iceland, Japan, Peru & Nepal. 


Since the start of the pandemic our partnership has strengthened and evolved. This resilience in partnership has provided an expanded number of program options to students and provided a consistency in the sustainable development, globally focused education that this partnership provides to NCSU’s students. The College of Engineering at NCSU reports that:


"The partnership with The GREEN Program has been a strong one for NCSU's College of Engineering.  During a challenging time with the pandemic, we were grateful for their innovative programming to provide the international certificates for Nepal and Peru to our students.  Our students were eager and excited to have this option that provided a much needed outlet and engaging experience during the pandemic.  Their programs were well received by our students."


While travel restrictions were in place- prohibiting in-person travel experiences and delaying the scheduled Maymester Iceland program- TGP launched a number of virtual program options, including a number of professional certificate programs geared towards training and equipping students with professional skills related to sustainable development that complement an engineering education. By the close of this summer term, NCSU will have funded 27 total engineers in completing a professional certificate program with TGP. These certificate programs include TGP’s Nepal Ethics of Sustainable Development program and Peru Indigenous Knowledge of Sustainability program. 


Here are some things that NCSU’s participants reported about their experience: 

  • "Being more aware of the ethics of any project introduces a more human side to the project plan and it raises interesting questions to ponder upon. My favorite part about this course was to be able to relate to what we talk about to everyday events, or more personal issues."
  • "I think that it is essential to be discussing ethics because computer science is basically the study on how we can develop the world technologically. We cannot do this if the world is suffering under the weight of poverty and unrest among citizens of nations. Taking this course allowed me to open my mind and think more efficiently on how I can apply my knowledge to helping the world become a more sustainable, safe planet for our future generations. I know it will do the same for others as well."
  • "This course helped me to gain a more humanistic approach to problem-solving as opposed to finding simply technical solutions. It helped me understand that even if I think a solution is good because it solves a problem from an engineering perspective, it might not be the best solution in terms of how it might affect society and communities where the solution would be implemented."
  • "Ethics is a beneficial addition because an engineering major never really looks into the ethics so this was something that will help me be a better person and better engineer"