A group of talented students from the Georgia Institute of Technology took part in a first-of-its-kind program on the Emerald Isle this summer. Students and faculty from the Wallace H. Coulter Biomedical Engineering Department and School of Aerospace Engineering traveled to Ireland for a new study abroad partnership with Ireland’s University of Limerick.
“Before now, there was no international program specifically for Biomedical Engineering students,” says Dr. Paul Bankeser, Senior Associate Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “If they wanted to study abroad, they would only be able to complete one or two courses. That’s not a great payoff for such a substantial investment. This program allowed them to take a full BME course load abroad for the first time.”
Forty-nine BME students took part in the ten-week program, which wrapped up on August 2nd 2014. They were able to choose from more than a dozen core BME and AE courses, each of which were taught by Georgia Tech faculty. To complement their studies in the beautiful international setting, the participants also had an invaluable opportunity to connect with industry powerhouses in the Limerick area.
“Ireland is a hotbed for global leaders in the biomedical device industry,” said Sally Gerrish, Manager of Student, Alumni and Industrial Relations. “Medtronics, Boston Scientific, Abbott Laboratories, Cook Medical, the list goes on. All of these were a short walk or bus ride away, and the students were able to tour these facilities, meet with the staff, and gain valuable insight into the real-world applications of their degree.”
Cy Wilcox and Laticia Khalif took on large responsibilities for making industry connections and played an instrumental role in setting up these industry visits. BME undergraduate student Sara Khalek participated in the program as a teacher assistant and helped arrange tours. “Organizing the tours helped me understand how to communicate and work with personnel in the BME field,” Khalek said. “It was an excellent networking opportunity for me, and provided me with great experience executing a plan within a real-world setting.”
In addition to their coursework and industry visits, the students received an introduction and tour of the National University of Ireland, Galway, which will be useful in opening doors for future research opportunities or graduate school. Aside from the educational and practical applications of the program, perhaps the greatest takeaway for participants was the chance to broaden their horizons on a personal level.
“The AE/BME Limerick Study Abroad program offered me an opportunity to live in a foreign country, to travel all over the EU, to study and teach within my major, to strengthen my friendships, and finally, to develop who I am and who I want to be,” Khalek said. “There are few opportunities that offer all these riches in one experience.” The Universities are already working on plans to continue the partnership again next year.
Written by Chris Calleri