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  • Ethan Chung ('25)

Engineering Everywhere -Returning to normalcy for Engineering Study Abroad programs

On the Spain and Morocco track, students explored the famous Hassan Tower Mosque and the Chellah, ancient Roman ruins, and scenic gardens of Rabat. Photo courtesy of Lisa Schibelius for Virginia Tech.


In light of the Covid-19 virus, and as a returning sense of normalcy begins to settle in again, studying abroad begins to wind up again for an even more impactful return. Overseas travel for the past two years has seemed like a distant dream, but with each passing day, Virginia Tech is expanding its programs globally for students to gain an experience of a lifetime while progressing their care.

Class Programs (ISEP, Faculty Led):

ISEP (International Student Exchange Program) and Faculty Led programs, terms that have been lost over the past two years while travel was restricted. Virginia Tech faculty led programs are the first and more simple of the two. This program allows for students to go abroad with other Virginia Tech students and faculty to study pre-certified classes for transfer credits. The second program, ISEP (International Student Exchange Program), gives students more opportunities to travel to different countries through student exchange programs or direct enrollment of the foreign institutions. Through the exchange program, students from both institutions will trade spots at each other’s university to get the most out of their experience. The program allows students to directly enroll in the foregin institution and wait to be admitted that way. Third party study abroad options are available, but require more work to understand the transfer credits. Through these programs, students are able to go abroad once more and give students an international experience of study, work, or volunteering.

RSAP for Engineering Students (Rising Sophomore Abroad Program):

Starting again following the Spring 2022 Semester, the RSAP has taken flight again. The faculty led engineering program is a two week international module following the conclusion of the spring semester to give students leadership and culture experience. Rising sophomores and first year transfer students had the opportunity to travel to Spain and Morocco, Ireland and the United Kingdom, and Italy and Germany. Many students had a positive response, calling it, “a way to get rid of personal biases” and “a pathway to hear other people’s stories to understand them”. Overall, the RSAP is a way to impact the development of future engineers.

NSF - National Science Foundation. Found on Virginia Tech study abroad Website

International Internships (Rolls-Royce International Internship):

If classes abroad weren’t exciting enough, students also have the opportunity to work abroad as well. Oftentimes, students would choose to intern abroad to expand their global network and an overall new experience. Fortunately, there is an ISEP program that will assist you in landing an internship abroad, virtually or in person. The most popular internship program Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia has to offer is the Rolls-Royce International Internship Program. The opportunity spans over the summer and gives major insight of how the top engineers work. It’s sad to say that it was not open for relocation this summer, so the interns who were chosen were relocated domestically for free by the program. In future years, it can be expected that the program will return for overseas relocation, and it is an opportunity that shouldn’t be overlooked.

International Research Experience for Students (IRES):

An underlooked opportunity is international research abroad. Just like interning and taking classes, students have the opportunity to conduct research at another university and collaborate with their faculty on innovative research projects. Engineering research projects are fully funded through the National Science Foundation and include stipends for the ten to thirteen weeks the students conduct research. Research abroad is highly encouraged because the process students undergo is necessary to, “the scholarly and artistic contribution to knowledge,” as stated by the Council on Undergraduate Research. The Fulbright Program is one of several scholarship opportunities to research abroad. Many of these scholarships push for the development of great researchers with the goal of improving intercultural relations, cultural diplomacy, and intercultural competence around the world.

What you need to know:

With study abroad once again taking off, it is allowing more opportunities to experience different cultures while progressing their careers. A lot of students get scared of studying abroad due to the costs, but there are many scholarship opportunities that are automatically considered for you on your FAFSA and college you are in. It is also important to note that Virginia Tech’s study abroad office keeps close watch over the events and outbreaks that happen in countries the school has programs in. Student and faculty safety has become a priority over the past few years when it comes to the topic of travel. Should an occasion rise where a study abroad experience is canceled, refunds are feasible to the payer. As the world returns to a normal state again, study abroad is projected to stay around after its two year hiatus.

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