I participated in an important workshop in Washington this week http://www.iie.org/Who-We-Are/News-and-Events/Events/2012/STEM-Internships-Workshop (all presentations are online at this site). A coalition of education abroad professionals at IIE, NAFSA’s Work, Internship and Volunteer Abroad (WIVA) Subcommittee, and UC-San Diego conducted a 1 ½ day workshop targeted to STEM faculty and staff, Career Services professionals and Education Abroad professionals. The workshop addressed internship and work abroad programs in the STEM fields, specifically creating, maintaining, funding, and assessing these programs.
The need for globally minded and competent Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professionals in the U.S. has been documented repeatedly in recent years. International internships and work abroad programs provide a means for addressing this need that meets the education and curriculum demands placed on our technical students. Yet few U.S. schools have established such programs or have strong mechanisms for integrating them into the STEM curriculum.
There is no question of the need to widen opportunities for more students to realize the benefits of international work and internship experiences – in all fields. However, the STEM fields offer many opportunities for academic institutions to partner with industry. It’s a win-win venture. The workshop provided a window on best practices around the country.