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Exchange program brings engineering students to UD

A unique exchange program between the University of Delaware and National Taiwan University (NTU) is enabling engineering students from each institution to spend one or two semesters at the other campus.

This fall, the first four students from NTU -- two undergraduate and two graduate students -- arrived on the UD campus, and another undergraduate is expected in the spring.

“These exchanges enable our students to experience other cultures both through study in other countries and through interaction with international students who come here,” says Michael Chajes, dean of UD's College of Engineering.

The NTU students have already learned a lot about life on an American campus in a small town. They have not only sampled hot dogs and hamburgers at a barbecue but also introduced their roommates to food from their homeland. They are practicing their English language skills and learning how to get around in a place where public transportation options are much more limited than in their native country.

Jokes are the toughest. “We usually don't get the jokes,” says Ray (Chia-Jui) Lee, a master's student in electrical engineering, “so we just laugh when everyone else does.”

Despite the challenges of understanding American humor, Lee says he is happy to be here. “Studying abroad has always been my dream,” he says. “I'm already experiencing the culture -- now I just want to see some snow.”

Lee is benefitting from working with the relatively large group of faculty and students in the area of solar power at UD. He recently had the opportunity to attend a social gathering with more than 20 other students and faculty at the home of his adviser, Allen Barnett, professor in UD's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“Our government and the government of Taiwan have each designated solar power as a priority for development and deployment of clean, sustainable energy,” says Barnett. “Well-educated students are critical to achieving these goals. This student exchange program is an excellent opportunity for students in both countries to make valuable advances both personally and professionally.”

Gina (Yi-Chun) Ko, a senior electrical engineering student, is participating in the program because she plans to pursue graduate studies in the United States. “This is allowing me to experience what it's like to study here,” she says, “so that I'm more prepared when I apply for grad school.”

Ko, who lives in Christiana Towers with three roommates whom she describes as “kind” and “funny,” has found living in a residence hall to be a significant benefit in terms of learning English. “I'm also learning to cook,” she says, “which I never had to do at home.”

Don (Sung-Yueh) Yang, a master's candidate in environmental engineering, admits that time management here has not been easy for him, as he is taking a full course load and doing research, all with limited English skills, but he welcomes the opportunity to gain a new perspective on his field by studying at UD for a year. Chin-Pao Huang, Donald C. Phillips Professor at UD and Yang's adviser, is internationally recognized in the field of environmental engineering and has strong connections to a large number of researchers in Taiwan.

“Students participating in exchange programs like this learn as much outside the classroom and the laboratory as they do within them,” says Huang. “NTU is very interested in having UD students spend time on their campus, and I strongly encourage students here to take advantage of this life-changing opportunity.”

In addition to non-degree exchanges between UD and NTU, dual-degree programs with NTU are being established at the doctoral level. “These programs will enable faculty at both institutions to jointly supervise Ph.D. students and to participate in collaborative research,” says Chajes. “This will enable our faculty to expand their research activities into new and exciting areas.”

“The students who are here on the exchange program have been well prepared at NTU for the rigor of study in the engineering disciplines while adjusting to a new culture,” says Charles “Chuck” Shermeyer, assistant dean for undergraduate advising in UD's College of Engineering. “They have been patient as we help them choose courses that further their academic careers or satisfy a special interest they might have. They are a welcome addition to the UD engineering family, and we look forward to their continued participation in the academic and social activities of the college and University.”

Article by Diane Kukich
Photo by Doug Baker

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