UWP explores possibility of exchange agreement with Mexico

December 10, 2002

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PLATTEVILLE-Exploring options for a study abroad exchange agreement with an institute in Mexico, University of Wisconsin-Platteville Assistant Dean of the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science Lisa Riedle, along with colleagues Cinda Furry, department of mathematics administrative assistant, and Carol Ann Kruse, department of electrical engineering secretary, recently traveled to the Spanish-speaking country.

"Right now we're in the early stages of explorations to see what opportunities are available to us in Mexico," Riedle said. "We have had a student express an interest of studying in Mexico and the advisory board of EMS suggested we see what opportunities are available."

The three UWP representatives visited six campuses in various parts of Mexico, focusing on the quality of engineering programs offered at each school and looking at the student body enrollment in comparison to UWP.

"We'd like to find a program that offers students a lot of hands-on experience, similar to our programs at UWP," Riedle said. "We'd also like to develop a partnership with an institution that would be comparable in size to UWP. We want our students to feel comfortable and not overwhelmed by a huge student population."

During their nine-day excursion, Riedle, Furry and Kruse visited three Monterrey Technical campuses - in Monterrey, Guadalajara and Quertetaro - in addition to visiting the Institute of Polytechnic National in Mexico City and two institutions in Puebla - the University of Latin America and the University of the Americas. All of the campuses were private with very nice facilities, Furry said. While visiting the Institute of Polytechnic National, the three also visited Fulbright Scholar Edwardo Oliva-Lopez, who was a visiting professor in general engineering last year at UWP.

With the primary goal of the trip being to merely bring back information for the possibility of developing an exchange agreement in Mexico, no plans for a partnership have been made at this time. However, Riedle suggested a winterim course combining elements of engineering and social science may be a good starting point for the exchange.

"Students could visit manufacturing facilities, experiencing not only the engineering side of industry, but also the social aspect of how manufacturing facilities are run in Mexico," Riedle said. "I think it would be a real eye-opener for some of our students who don't realize the conditions people work under in Mexico. Some of our students may be asked to manage facilities in Mexico some day and it would be valuable for them to know what they're getting into beforehand."

"With the NAFTA agreement, so many companies are expanding into Mexico," Furry said. "Studying in Mexico would be a good experience for students and an opportunity to better learn the language. The way the business world is now, many employees do expect to travel, so it would be a good experience for students to start exposing themselves to other cultures while they're students at UWP."

Riedle said the earliest an agreement could be formed and a winterim course exchange could be offered to students would be January 2004.

"We've extended invitations to all the institutions we visited to come to UWP to visit our campus," Riedle said. "Now we have to wait and see what institutions are interested in forming a partnership with us."

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