Academics

Engineering alumni group's campaign to raise travel-abroad funds for students

Penn State students gather for a photo during a trip to China. Credit: Penn State / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Singapore, Australia, China, Kenya and Germany. These are just a few of the countries where 230 College of Engineering students traveled abroad during the 2014-15 academic year. Thanks to the Engineering Young Alumni Advisory Board (EYAAB), even more aspiring engineers may be able to participate in these cultural and educational opportunities in years to come.

On Nov. 30 the EYAAB kicked off a one-month campaign, powered by Crowdfunding/Penn State, with a goal of raising at least $5,000 that will be allocated to the College of Engineering's Global Engineering Education Office to assist students with travel abroad expenses.

EYAAB chair Katie Kirsch, a mechanical engineering alumna, said board members agreed to raise funds for travel abroad because they wanted to contribute to an aspect of a student’s education that had changed their lives. "Many of us have lived, studied or worked abroad and emerged from the experience a different person."

She explained that when students are given a chance to study or work abroad, they gain an understanding of the world that’s impossible to be taught in a classroom. "Especially in engineering, where companies are global and share their technologies across a variety of cultures and regions, it's important for students to understand that there is a difference in how business is conducted across cultures and that there is a difference in how technology is applied in different regions."

Traveling abroad is one of the most beneficial experiences for college students, offering them opportunities to immerse themselves in different cultures, hone their language skills, explore potential careers and meet others with similar interests. Unfortunately, many students don't get a chance to capitalize on these opportunities because the necessary financial resources are out of reach.

According to Seth Godfrey of the College of Engineering's Global Engineering Education Office, the cost of traveling abroad is a major deterrent for engineering students who are on the fence about international education, second only to their concern over potentially delaying graduation.

He added that a study abroad experience can vary from $3,000 per month to $9,000 per month, depending on a number of factors such as program type, location and number of credits the student will receive.

Kirsch cited examples of how donations in any amount can help ease some of the financial burden for students who want to travel abroad. "A few dollars could contribute to a meal for the student; $20 to $30 could allow the student to stay in a hostel for a night in a different city; $75 could buy a train ticket for a student to travel to another city; a passport costs on the order of $125. The cost of living abroad grows quickly when you add up all the small things a student needs to make his or her experience the best it can be!"

Anyone interested in participating in this campaign can visit Penn State's USEED site. Once there, click on the Give Now button to donate.

Updates will be posted to the College of Engineering's Facebook page and Twitter feed throughout the campaign.

For additional information, contact Jennifer Theiss, director of alumni relations in the College of Engineering, at jtheiss@engr.psu.edu or 814-863-3384.

Established in 2014, the EYAAB serves as a subset of the Penn State Engineering Alumni Society (PSEAS) board of directors. The society is the only all-alumni body in the College of Engineering. PSEAS board members work closely with deans, faculty, staff and students to promote and enhance engineering programs at Penn State.

Last Updated December 02, 2015

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