Virginia Tech students are seeking the support of research centers, academic departments, and area businesses to provide opportunities for technical internships through the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE).

In the next few weeks, Al Mourtadah Ashkar, an industrial and systems engineering student, who is serving as the coordinator for raising internships that can be offered through Virginia Tech, will be knocking on doors seeking partners.

"Virginia Tech IAESTE chapter's goal is to have 10 internships in the Blacksburg area available to international interns next summer," Ashkar said. The group selected 10 because that would place Virginia Tech among the top schools offering IAESTE internships. The competition consists of top rated engineering schools such as MIT, Duke, Georgia Tech, Stanford, North Carolina State, and Penn State.

IAESTE maintains a network of more than 80 international partners and has an applicant pool of some 30,000 students. IAESTE attempts to match a highly qualified technical or scientific intern with an employer's needs. For each international intern hosted through the Virginia Tech chapter, one Virginia Tech student is able to intern abroad on a reciprocal basis.

Ashkar, a native of Austria who speaks Arabic, German, French, and English, was one of several students who started the IAESTE chapter at Virginia Tech last year. They were able to place six engineering students in foreign internships and located three in Blacksburg.

The Center for Power Electronic Systems, directed by Fred Lee of electrical and computer engineering, and the Energy Management Institute, directed by Michael von Spakovsky of mechanical engineering, were two Virginia Tech research centers that offered opportunities to interns. One of Blacksburg's local businesses, Synapticad Inc., also provided an internship.

Von Spakovsky is the adviser to the local IAESTE chapter. It also has an Advisory Board consisting of: Joe Meredith, president of the CRC; College of Science associate deans George Crofts, Sheryll Ball, and Nancy Ross; Kim Beisecker, director of the Cranwell International Center; John Boyer, geography professor; and Sedki Riad, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the College of Engineering's international program opportunities.

The students also are seeking financial support for their various activities. The College of Engineering, the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and CMG Leasing, a Blacksburg business, have contributed to the chapter.

Any individual interested in providing an internship, supporting or joining the local chapter of IAESTE may contact Ashkar at or call him at (540) 239 7851.

The College of Engineering at Virginia Tech is internationally recognized for its excellence in 14 engineering disciplines and computer science. The college's 5,600 undergraduates benefit from an innovative curriculum that provides a "hands-on, minds-on" approach to engineering education, complementing classroom instruction with two unique design-and-build facilities and a strong Cooperative Education Program. With more than 50 research centers and numerous laboratories, the college offers its 2,000 graduate students opportunities in advanced fields of study such as biomedical engineering, state-of-the-art microelectronics, and nanotechnology.

Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech has grown to become among the largest universities in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Today, Virginia Tech's eight colleges are dedicated to putting knowledge to work through teaching, research, and outreach activities and to fulfilling its vision to be among the top research universities in the nation. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 full- and part-time undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.