Friday September 23, 2005
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Research, International Plan Fair hits Skiles Walkway

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By Charles Frey / Student Publications

The International Plan, unveiled at the International Plan and Research Opportunities Fair, Sept. 15 by President Wayne Clough, requires two terms spent abroad in addition to classes with a global focus.

By Inn Inn Chen Senior Staff Writer

In the tradition of continual improvement upon the undergraduate programs here at Tech, two new highly-anticipated initiatives have just been introduced.

They include the International Plan and a revamped Undergraduate Research program.

Both of these programs were unveiled at the International Plan and Research Opportunities Fair.

The Fair had opening remarks by Institute President, Dr. Wayne Clough as the keynote speaker, on Sept. 15, at Skiles Walkway.

The International Plan is a new program that is built around the student's intended major with additional requirements focused on international experience and time abroad.

The program does not change the degree requirements for graduation.

Completion of the program is recognized on the transcript and the diploma with an "International Plan" designation after the student's major.

There are several additional requirements for completion of the program.

The first of these is a language requirement, equivalent to two years of college coursework, which is determined by a proficiency test and not seat time.

Additional academic prerequisites are three globally focused courses, one from international relations, one from global economics and another course about a specific country or region of the world that a student decides to focus on.

Students are also required to spend two terms or a minimum of 26 weeks total abroad.

This may be fulfilled by either studying abroad or with international work experience through an internship or Co-op.

In addition, there is a capstone course for the program as well as a minimum 2.5 GPA requirement.

Currently, about half of the majors at Tech have an approved template for the International Plan.

Some of the departments that have approved curricula for the Plan include Aerospace Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Biology, Computing and Architecture.

The remaining majors are in the process of designing the program and getting it approved by the both the department and Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.

Jack Lohmann, the associate provost for Institute Development says the program is "designed to focus on the global practice of the student's major.it is an immerse plan."

"This [program] is something broader than study abroad.it is a comprehensive package of experiences and coursework that helps a student be globally competent," said Amy Henry from the Office of International Education (OIE).

"I think this program will have a significant effect on the international context and issue of search and discovery in the classroom," Lohmann said.

"I would characterize it in the same way I would characterize the impact the co-op program has had on the Tech community."

The International Plan program plans to recruit 100 students this first year, 200 the second and over the next five years, increase enrollment to 600 students.

With this pool of students, the goal is to graduate a steady 300 students, per year, from this program.

The Fair also spotlighted Undergraduate Research opportunities available.

A new Undergraduate Research Director will be hired to identify and coordinate opportunities that already exist and make it easier for students to get involved in the programs.

The other role of the Director would be to work on an upcoming capital campaign to fund and start more research opportunities for students.

There is also a new program called the Research Thesis Option being introduced which would be a more intensive program for students interested in research.

Students who complete this program will also receive a designation on their transcript.

According to Phil McKnight, the Chair of the School of Modern Languages, these two programs are currently being funded from the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).

The funds total $5 million which would be split equally between the International Plan and the Undergraduate Research options.

One of Tech's goals is to have 60 percent of students involved in undergraduate research, up from the current 40percent.

Another goal is to have over half of Tech students have some international experience before graduation, McKnight said.

The money would be used to add to the load of instruction and administration needed to run these programs.

"Both of these programs can be shaped around students' majors but they tend to push students out of those majors and into something bigger, so they grow as individuals," said Institute President Wayne Clough.

"Tech has this goal to define the technological research for the 21st century and this is part of that definition," he said.

"It really is about doing something that nobody else is doing and we are taking step we believe others will want to emulate."

"The idea behind this [program] was we want the students who might have gone to Stanford or MIT.because we have something they don't have," McKnight said.

The new International Program will have a great impact on the School of Modern Languages, McKnight said.

The growth in the school has already been at 78 percent, with over 60 percent of the students, who are declared as engineering majors, taking modern language courses.

"We will prioritize any student who is in the International Plan to get into the language class that they want," McKnight said.

The International Plan has been in planning for two years and is a very unique program, being the first of its kind at any American university.

McKnight said he was "very excited and thrilled to have this program in place."

Currently, OIE will handle all of the administrative tasks related to the International Plan, including receiving applications, answering student questions, and marketing the program.

The application deadline for the International Plan this year is on October 1.

87 applications have been submitted and 77 students are already enrolled in the program.

Students are encouraged to visit the website and talk to their academic advisors, if they are interested in the program.

"This program really gives you, the student, a chance to focus your interest to become more intense...and receive credit for it," Clough said.

The International Plan was designed to help students achieve a higher level of global competence both generally and in their major.

This plan and the Undergraduate Research option are the products of two years of hard work by Institute faculty and staff.

Their hard work has payed off as the Fair was a success with a large student turnout and a lot of faculty-student interaction.