TIEC Receives STEM Grant with Texas State and Lamar University from Exxon Mobil’s 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund

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This month, the Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC), along with the Universidad Politecnica de Guanajuato in Mexico (UPG), Texas State University (TXST), and Lamar University (LU), received funding from the Exxon Mobil 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund to develop a pilot engineering boot camp/study abroad program. The project aims to prepare an increased number of STEM graduate students for employment in today’s globalized workforce.

To do so, UPG in Cortazar, Guanajuato, Mexico, and TIEC, working with its member universities, Texas State University and Lamar University, will establish a study abroad partnership focused on STEM competencies and soft skills needed to increase the diversity of its study abroad participants as well as the diversity of the aligned academic programming in engineering.

The result will be a 12-day study abroad program designed to allow UPG’s STEM students to further develop their engineering skills by using the latest technology while solving real-world engineering problems they will face in the labor market. The goal is to have UPG students alongside Texas engineering students from TIEC’s own Lamar and Texas State universities, according to TIEC Vice President Ryan Buck, PhD.

“Having STEM students from Mexico and Texas learn these concepts together provides unique opportunities that advance cross-cultural cooperation and understanding,” said Dr. Buck. “We need to prepare the next generation for more efficient and effective engineering solutions that meet tomorrow’s demands in a collaborative manner with enhanced communication and interpersonal skills. This program does exactly that, and we can be more excited toward the implementation phase!”

Part of the mission of the Partners of the Americas, the organization that is funding the project, is to reduce the number of Latin American and Caribbean students who do not have the English language skills or resources to succeed at U.S. institutions. Conversely, it also wants to make U.S. students more aware of opportunities available in the hemisphere and to do a better job connecting study abroad programs to degree programs.

 “The Innovation Fund is the public-private sector collaboration between the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassies, Partners of the Americas, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, companies, and foundations working together since 2013 to support this signature hemispheric-wide education initiatives for the Americas,” said Partners of the Americas President and CEO John McPhail in his congratulatory letter on the funding approval. “[The] proposal—‘Building Bridges for New Innovators in Engineering (BBNIE)’—reflects the overall goals of the Innovation Fund to increase higher education partnerships that provide new academic exchange opportunities so that students can work in teams, conduct research, and gain technical, linguistic, and intercultural skills—critical for today’s global workforce.”

Students will earn college credit from their home institutions for participation in the programs. The first cohort is expected sometime next summer.

A total of 187 Innovation Fund grants have been awarded to teams of 352 higher education institutions from 25 countries and in 42 U.S. states. Follow the Innovation Fund online using #100KStrongAmericas.

Liz Holliday