In late July, a team of 10 engineering students from Ovidius University in Constanta, Romania, visited campus to get a firsthand look at Rensselaer’s cutting-edge mechanical and aerospace engineering research and undergraduate program.
The group of students and their instructor, Professor Eden Mamut, were hosted by Assistant Professor Diana-Andra Borca-Tasciuc from Rensselaer’s Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering (MANE).
Along with attending presentations from Rensselaer faculty and students on research and educational topics ranging from nanoscale heat transfer to writing engineering reports, the Ovidius students’ two-week stay also included an undergraduate research experience, a tour of different campus facilities, a visit to Rensselaer’s research reactor at the Walthousen Laboratory in Schenectady, and a tour of General Electric Corp.’s nearby Global Research Center. Led by Borca-Tasciuc, doctoral candidate Heather Denver, and graduate student Jeremy Vanderover, the group also participated alongside Rensselaer undergraduates in experiments performed in MANE’s Thermal and Fluids Engineering laboratory.
Ovidius Professor Mamut said his university is in the midst of overhauling its undergraduate mechanical engineering program, and his trip doubled as a fact-finding mission to get a firsthand look at Rensselaer’s program and discover how to emulate its successes.
“We wanted to see what is the role of lab work and activities with the students, and to understand exactly if and how we should adjust our own programs,” Mamut said.
Ovidius University, with a population of more than 20,000 students, is one of the major universities of Romania and a member of the Black Sea University Network that encompasses more than 100 universities around the Black Sea coast.
“It’s so important for us to prepare students to be a part of the global community,” Borca-Tasciuc said. “The students from Ovidius are interested in sustainable energy technology and problems that are specific to the Black Sea shore and Eastern Europe, and they visited Rensselaer to gain a fresh perspective on the situation.
“Of course this works both ways, and Rensselaer students also get a rich insight into an interesting set of problems that they may have not previously encountered or envisioned,” she said.
Borca-Tasciuc, herself a native of Romania, plans to take a group of Rensselaer students to visit Ovidius University next year to participate in similar research and educational activities. These activities may become part of the recently launched Rensselaer Engineering Education Across Cultural Horizons (REACH) program, she said.
Rensselaer launched REACH this spring as a platform to better prepare tomorrow’s leaders with the global perspective and multicultural sophistication that will be necessary to tackle the grand challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. The program aims in the next few years to make study abroad, an international internship or research fellowship, or another international experience an integral part of Rensselaer’s four-year undergraduate engineering degree.
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