Global Engineering Engagement hosts inaugural student-focused conference


By Tessa M. Pick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Center for Global Engineering Engagement hosted its inaugural student-centered spring conference, “Engineering Your Global Experiences: Building Global Competencies for the Future Engineering Workforce,” virtually on April 1.

“This conference provided a phenomenal opportunity to share ideas and disseminate best practices in the field of global engineering education and more broadly for internationalization,” said Patrick Tunno, director of Global Engineering Engagement. “I’m hopeful that student participants were motivated by some truly excellent presentations. Global competencies can really launch a student’s career and leveraging these skills provides an opportunity to make our world a better place through engineering.”

With 48 universities represented from across 14 countries, the conference included a student networking event and facilitated discussions on how global competencies — such as communication, cultural respect, diversity, equity and sustainability, ethical awareness and safety awareness — can impact individual people throughout their careers, as well as global communities.

Tunno opened the event by announcing that Allison McCloy, a senior civil engineering student, won a student video contest that focused on students’ global experiences and how those experiences positively impacted their futures in engineering. In her video submission, McCloy shared her experience during her time abroad in Peru.

Justin Schwartz, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean in the College of Engineering, offered opening remarks focused on the global context of engineering and how it can help shape engineers and the global solutions they construct.

“Our goal in the College of Engineering is to graduate engineers with the drive to develop solutions for challenges that are facing humanity from across the world and who appreciate and incorporate global perspectives in their work,” Schwartz said. “The global context of engineering is critically important to our mission, and it is the very crux of understanding and solving global issues. Global competencies can be the difference between a decent engineer and an excellent engineer.”

Schwartz remarks were followed by a series of concurrent panel presentations on building global competencies in engineering students, the importance of diverse perspectives in engineering solutions and engineering for humanity. Presenters spoke from University College Dublin, Texas A&M University, Purdue University, University of Missouri, Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, University of Cincinnati, University of Cape Coast in Ghana, Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia, the Technical University of Munich in Germany and Penn State.

Lloyd Risser, a control systems engineer at Bechtel who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Penn State in 1989, gave the keynote address on his global experiences as an engineer and how global competencies are vital components of succeeding in the industry and making a positive impact.

“Diversity results in innovative engineering solutions,” Risser said. “It’s as simple as that. A global engineer understands how important diversity is and will advocate for it. Recruiters are looking for engineers with broad vision. I challenge you to understand and define what it looks like to possess these global competencies.”

Tunno said the Center for Global Engineering Engagement is actively exploring making this conference an annual occurrence, with the hope of making it an in-person event in coming years.


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Megan Lakatos