New study abroad opportunity in Italy and Switzerland for engineering students

October 04, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Office of Global Engineering Engagement is offering a new study abroad program in Italy and Switzerland, open to all engineering students, beginning in summer 2019. As the first of its kind in the College of Engineering, participants in the Cross-cultural Engagement and Technical Presentation Program learn how to deliver effective technical presentations in a European setting as they are introduced to Italian language and local culture.

“What makes the program even more valuable is how local culture and language are a seamless part of the experience. I think that students will leave the program with a fresh perspective and the skills needed to communicate across cultures,” said Patrick Tunno, director of Global Engineering Engagement and one of three faculty members leading the program. “Soft skills, such as being better collaborators and sensitivity to cultural differences, can help students become more effective engineers.”

All participants will earn a total of six credits through the program, which runs from May 5 to 25, 2019:

ENGR 197: Cross-cultural Engagement and Technical Presentation for Engineers, taught by Lori Miraldi, director of the Engineering Ambassadors Program and Student Engagement Initiatives, College of Engineering, and Peter Miraldi, teaching professor, communication arts and sciences, College of the Liberal Arts, is designed to help students research, develop and deliver effective technical presentations to cross-cultural audiences. Students will gain and employ language skills to collaborate and present with students from other countries, gain insights into cultural differences among presentation styles and develop their competencies in cross-cultural communication.

ENGR 197: Cross-cultural Engagement for Engineers in a European Context, taught by Tunno, consists of two components: a required pre-departure, web-based orientation course to equip participants with the tools and knowledge to successfully embark on a productive experience abroad, and an in-country portion to allow students to build upon meaningful connections between the program’s technical content and critical issues in the global context, including local language, culture, behaviors and society.

In May 2018, Tunno and Lori and Peter Miraldi met with faculty from the Università della Svizzera italiana in Switzerland and Politecnico di Milano in Italy to set up collaborations among students. As a result, students will be provided the opportunity to enjoy academic and cultural engagement with local university students and will visit CERN, the United Nations, the World Health Organization and other excursions that explore local economies, products, customs and traditions.

“This is a great opportunity for engineering students to develop their technical presentation skills and earn general education credits while immersed in the culture and beauty of northern Italy and Switzerland,” said Lori Miraldi. “These experiences and skills will help them become more competitive in the global workforce.”

Housing will be provided by the program, with Penn State students living together in Como, Italy, near the foot of the Alps in Italy’s stunning Lake District, as well as in Geneva, Switzerland, for an overnight visit.

Applications opened on Oct. 1, 2018, and close on Feb. 1, 2019. Detailed information can be found on the program’s website. Engineering students who are interested in learning more about the program are encouraged to attend an information session from 3 to 4 p.m. Nov. 14, in 202 Hammond Building. Students can also schedule time to meet with Sara Kuhlman, coordinator of international experiences, Office of Global Engineering Engagement, via Starfish.

  • Cathedral in Italy

    Duomo di Milano in Italy

    IMAGE: Patrick Tunno
  • Patrick Tunno, Lori Miraldi and Peter Miraldi in Lugano, Switzerland

    Faculty-led team in Lugano, Switzerland, during their visit in May. From left to right: Patrick Tunno, Lori Miraldi, Peter Miraldi. 

    IMAGE: Patrick Tunno
  • A market in Switzerland

    A market in Switzerland

    IMAGE: Patrick Tunno
(1 of 3)
Last Updated October 04, 2018