IMET students complete multicultural exchange in Taiwan

September 14, 2011

By Brigitte Graf ’13

This summer, three students from the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering and Technology traveled to Chung Li City, Taiwan, to participate in a three-week study abroad program at Chung Yuan Christian University (CYCU).  The students, Sean Swanson, Max Jones, and Jordan Adkins were among 80 other international students accepted into the program.

Once in Taiwan, the students were divided into different groups, each designated to work on a particular project.  The groups worked on their respective projects throughout the duration of the program and presented their findings to a panel of judges at the end of the three weeks. 

“The groups varied from studies on heart rate variability to microbiology type things for medical study,” Swanson said.

The program was designed to give students a cultural as well as an academic experience.  The participants at CYCU were from the United States, Taiwan, Indonesia and China, among other countries.  Therefore, one of the major challenges they faced was simply learning to communicate with one another.

“There were some language barriers that we had to get through as a team,” Swanson said. “Everyone knew English very well, but occasionally someone wouldn’t understand an engineering term, so we would have to describe things in simpler terms.”

This was the first summer in which Bradley students participated in the program in Taiwan.  The program counted as a three-credit elective course toward the students’ degree programs at Bradley.  They were only required to pay for their airline tickets to and from Taiwan while tuition and board were supplied. 

Dr. Joseph Chen, chair of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering and Technology, set up the connection between Bradley University and CYCU.  A main goal of the program, according to Dr. Chen, was to give the participants an international experience.

“[Our students] need to understand how to work as a team with different cultures,” Chen said. “If they want to be leaders in the industrial and manufacturing fields they need to understand that they are not dealing with business just in America.”

Dr. Chen is also in the process of developing a similar program with corporate partners that would take students from Bradley to China for around 10 days.  They would be given the opportunity to work with employed engineers in factories.

“This will be a bit more of an intense program,” Chen said. “It will be like working there.”

The students would be working with the companies directly in an effort to increase their international experience.  Those who have participated and who will participate in these programs gain real-life experiences that will better prepare them for careers in a field that continues to grow on a global scale.