Engineers Get Benefit of Study Abroad

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Jeremy Pal, assistant professor of civil engineering and environmental science at Loyola Marymount University, knows of only one other university in the country that offers a semester abroad for science and engineering students. That is part of his motivation for pushing to begin such a program at the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering. This fall, 12 to 16 science and engineering students from LMU will travel to Bonn, Germany. Pal will be in Bonn for the semester, teaching a class and serving in a supportive role as the students navigate a different culture. Students selected for the program will take classes in statics — taught by Pal — physics, circuits and differential equations — taught remotely by an LMU math professor — and a class on German history, culture and language. Classes will be held at the Academy for International Education. However, Pal said, Seaver College has to ship lab equipment to Bonn for the students to use. He noted that this logistical challenge may be one reason why more universities do not run science and engineering study abroad programs. During their time abroad, the students — all of whom will be third-semester science and engineering majors — will take guided excursions to other European countries. Students will also visit several German cities, including Berlin and Dresden, to tour structures where technology and history are significantly intertwined. Pal wanted to make a study abroad opportunity available for science and engineering students because so much learning takes place outside of the classroom, he said. Pal, an American who lived in Europe for six years, believes in the educational value of living in a different culture. He noted that the program reflects a central component of the LMU mission, “the education of the whole person.”