The WCOE International initiative: A bold requirement for engineering undergraduates

Zaida M. Gracia, Albert Sacco

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


In order to prepare our graduates for the ever-changing global landscape, in the Fall 2013, the Whitacre College of Engineering (WCOE) at Texas Tech University (TTU) established the International Experience Initiative (IEI), a bold initiative that requires all undergraduate students in the college of engineering to complete an experience abroad before graduation. In addition, the IEI, aligned with the college's funding priorities for years 2013-2018, contributes to increase the college global presence by increasing graduate international enrollment, increasing research related activities and support with international partners, expanding international partnerships, and strengthening academic quality and reputation. To support the IEI, the college developed a strategic plan for years 2013-2018. The plan included a budget increase from $100,000 to $800,000 per year for the international programs office to invest in office staff and operations. New priorities for 2013-2018 consisted in 1) the refocusing on academic cost neutral offerings abroad after identifying the need to create more internships, research and service programs abroad, 2) a program assessment plan and 3) the development of a travel scholarship fund for students under financial hardship which currently represent a 27% of the undergraduate population. Results from these priorities from 2013-2016 include: 1) on academic offerings and enrollment, a 565% increase in abroad enrollment was achieved by growing from 79 to 525 students. By 2016, many programs in new locations were created, mostly non-faculty led study abroad programs and also many internship opportunities abroad. 2) A new assessment plan of all program components is in its implementation and testing phase and will be ready to be used by January 2017. 3) A travel scholarship fund has been developed, consisting of endowed funds and donations/gifts. A cost comparison study of our programs abroad vs on campus costs was used together with data from the financial aid office on the amount of students under financial hardship to determine how many students needed financial aid and what programs/locations were the most affordable. It was concluded that the Americas is the most affordable option for summer programs and the Asia/Africa/Australia/NZ regions are the most affordable option for semesters abroad. The average cost of airfare equivalent to $1,500 was used to calculate the travel scholarship budget needed per year. Given 150 students per year are under financial hardship in the college and each would receive $1,500 on average, $225,000 per year is the minimum needed amount in the travel scholarship fund. As a result of these findings, the WCOE established as funding priority for 2016-2020 to develop at least a $5 million travel scholarship endowed fund to guarantee the sustainability of this wonderful initiative.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 24 2017
Event124th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Columbus, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2017Jun 28 2017


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