Engineering Helps Cultivate UI Cross-cultural Connections

As the number of international students at the University of Iowa -- including the College of Engineering -- continues to rise, the campus remains committed to providing opportunities to promote interaction with domestic students.

Amy Brewster director, global experiences and academic advisor at the college, has initiated several programs and activities, including:

  • This year, starting a new Global Engineering Facebook page, which celebrates the global experiences of students in the College of Engineering.
  • Holding a welcome event called Engineering@Iowa: A Step Ahead in August. All incoming international students are expected to attend the event, as well as a targeted group of domestic students. In addition to learning more about the college and resources available to students, there is also a student panel comprised of both international and domestic students, as well as an interactive activity to encourage the formation of friendships.
  • Providing a welcoming physical environment that celebrates international students by having signs that say “welcome” in multiple languages that are visible in several locations throughout the Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences. The College of Engineering is also home to the World Flags Project, a permanent display of flags in the Student Commons, representing the home nations of students, faculty, staff, and alumni of the college.

At the university level, a new endeavor for the 2014-2015 academic year is the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB). The 12-student committee will serve as a channel for increasing domestic-international student interactions and improving international students' experiences at the University of Iowa, while functioning as a joint committee of both the graduate and undergraduate student governments.

Another new program is Friends Without Borders. Sponsored by International Programs, it pairs returning domestic students with first-year international students, regardless of major.

“Friends Without Borders is designed to help make international students feel more welcome,” says Kevin Roiseland, international student and scholar advisor for UI International Programs. “It’s a great program because it offers personal enrichment for everyone involved while also helping to create a more dynamic and integrated campus.”

UI students also have the opportunity to become involved with the Global Buddies program, which matches new international exchange students with American students who have been on campus for at least one year and are often past study abroad participants.