Global Engineering Fellows Program opens up a world of opportunities to students

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Last semester, a small cohort of Penn State engineering students eagerly arrived 15 minutes early for their weekly 8 a.m. class. The students — all participants in the College of Engineering's new Global Engineering Fellows Program — were there to attend a virtual briefing with representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Selected through a competitive application process, Global Engineering Fellows are Penn State engineering students who have already studied abroad and want to build on that experience.

“They’re passionate about their study-abroad experiences,” explained Patrick Tunno, director of the Global Engineering Engagement Office in the College of Engineering. “They want to seek additional international opportunities, and we want to help them succeed by showing them various options and helping them work on their professional development and communication skills.”

As part of the WHO presentation — the first-ever virtual briefing the organization conducted with a group of college students — the Fellows were introduced to the mission, function and structure of the WHO, as well as professional opportunities in the organization. They also participated in a discussion on a number of topics, including how engineers and others with a technical background might contribute to the WHO.

The briefing is just one example of the types of information featured in the Global Engineering Fellows class. Other topics include intercultural competencies, international fellowship opportunities, international research, humanitarian engineering and global networking, to name a few.

Additionally, the Fellows serve as study-abroad ambassadors for the College of Engineering, answering their peers’ study-abroad questions during regularly scheduled office hours and giving presentations at New Student Orientation sessions and first-year seminars.

Toward that end, the Global Engineering Fellows class also focuses extensively on developing and utilizing communication skills. “They can make awesome presentations,” said Tunno of this year’s cohort. “They make presentations, some of them several a week, to classes, to prospective students, and in front of hundreds of people.”

Currently, the 2017-2018 Global Engineering Fellows Program cohort includes 19 domestic and international students, who each receive a small scholarship.

Tunno hopes to increase the number of Fellows in the future. “We are looking for corporate support to help grow the program,” he said. “Hundreds of students in the College of Engineering study abroad every year. What I’d like is for more of them to be able to be Fellows and more of them to be able to help other engineering students get globally engaged and excited about international experiences.”

To learn more about the Global Engineering Fellows Program, visit the Global Engineering Engagement Office’s website at

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Last Updated January 29, 2018