Engineering innovation has always been a global effort, and there are numerous ways in which students can get involved.

The Student Engineers’ Abroad Council (SEAC) is a student organization dedicated to promoting global opportunities for Virginia Tech engineering students.

SEAC is running a crowdfunding campaign in order to help raise funds for study abroad scholarships. The campaign will run until April 27 through JUMP, Virginia Tech’s official crowdfunding platform, and the students aim to raise at least $10,000 for their scholarship fund.

Affiliated with the College of Engineering’s Global Engineering, Engagement, and Research Office, SEAC is comprised of engineering students who serve as ambassadors across campus to support engineering students in pursuing global experiences.  

Today, in part due to the efforts of SEAC, Virginia Tech engineers have more and more opportunities to study, research, and intern abroad. During the 2016-17 academic year, 565 engineering students participated in experiences abroad. These included study abroad programs, research experiences, senior design projects, service programs, and internships in 47 different countries.

Not only do students learn about other cultures and languages through these experiences, but they also further their academic ambitions, discover how their engineering skills fit into a global context, and prepare themselves to truly live Virginia Tech's motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

In addition to their promotional efforts, SEAC is committed to helping fund students’ overseas programs by providing generous scholarships to students on need- and merit-based criteria. These scholarships, which started in 2010, help students defray the costs of overseas travel, tuition, and living costs. The crowdfunding campaign will help SEAC assist even more engineers.

International experiences are crucial for professionals in any field, but this is especially true for engineers. Technologies and products that result from engineers’ efforts have a global impact, and it is critical for the next generation of engineers coming out of Virginia Tech to understand the role they play on a global scale.

This year alone, SEAC has provided scholarships to seven students, totaling $6,000. Past students who have received these scholarships have gone on to enhance their professional and academic goals and are continuing to promote study abroad experiences through the SEAC newsletter.

Valerie Hernley, an engineering science and mechanics major, traveled abroad to France, where she interned with Michelin. She worked at Michelin’s research center to improve the tools used in predicting wet braking performance. She used the experience to set realistic goals to one day live and work in France. She said she discovered that because of the way French culture applies to engineering "the engineering education in France is more theoretical than in the US.”

Photo of a smiling female student in Europe.
Valerie Hernley is an engineering science and mechanics major who traveled abroad to France. She found that the engineering education in France is more theoretical than in the U.S.

Aaron Morris, an industrial and systems engineering major, is in the sustainability/sustaining human societies program andstudied abroad through the Natural Environment in New Zealand wintermester, which contributed to his green engineering minor. On the trip, he studied the connections between environmental, economic, and social ideas of sustainability that will contribute to his role as a socially and environmentally conscious global engineer.

Photo of a group of students posing in New Zealand in front of a lush mountainous area.

Kevin Lu, a computer engineering major, went abroad in China as part of the Rising Sophomore Abroad Program. While there, he learned about Chinese culture as well as how engineering companies operate in China. His experience made him even more committed to working internationally and engaging with engineering issues from a global perspective. 

A group of students pose for a photo at GE in China.

During the crowdfunding campaign and following scholarship awards, SEAC will be sending out updates via their social media on Facebook and Twitter.

Written by Aislinn McCann