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Global Academic Initiative

ONU offered two undergraduate courses in the 2013-14 year with an international travel component. One of these courses, EXDS 2001 International Projects: A Dominican Perspective, was taught by Dr. Christine North, associate professor of communication arts, and included travel to the Dominican Republic over the Thanksgiving holiday. The second course is described below by Dr. David Sawyers, associate professor of mechanical engineering who began teaching at ONU in 2003. He enjoys traveling as well as teaching and combined these interests to create a new course. Our hope is that additional courses, which integrate international study and travel, will be developed.
– Dr. Lynda Nyce, director of global academic initiatives


This past May, 10 students and two engineering faculty members visited the United Kingdom to explore the history of the Industrial Revolution. The trip was part of a new course, Engineering in an International Context, taught by Dr. David Sawyers during the spring semester. The course introduced some of the significant technological breakthroughs that occurred in the UK and some of the famous engineers who made those advances possible. The students also developed travel skills, such as using British currency and navigating the London Underground, in preparation for a two-week trip, which occurred immediately after finals week.

The United Kingdom provides a unique opportunity for engineers – the country played a central role in the Industrial Revolution and much of that history is still visible. During their tour of the UK, the students were able to stroll across the world’s first iron bridge (built in the 1770s) and explore the first transatlantic steamship (the SS Great Britain, launched in 1843). They saw steam engines, early locomotives, an offshore wind farm and an electric power plant built inside a Welsh mountain. While the theme of the trip was focused on engineering, the group also visited Roman ruins, medieval castles and a Victorian seaside resort.

The tour began in the famous university town of Cambridge and continued through the county of Shropshire, which is considered by many to be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. After crossing the border into Wales for several days, the group returned to England for a visit to the industrial region known as the “Black Country,” made stops in Bath and Stonehenge, and finished in London. In addition to viewing sites of historical importance, the two-week trip enabled the students to gain an appreciation for British culture and society. Most of the group attended a choral service in the medieval chapel of King’s College in Cambridge, and several experienced a night at the opera while in London. They even spent one night in a 16th-century inn, which had previously hosted Dickens, Disraeli and Darwin.

While the global nature of modern industry is well-recognized, the rigidity of the engineering curriculum makes it difficult for most engineering students to participate in a semester-long study-abroad program. Engineering in an International Context provides its participants with the opportunity to experience another culture and gain a broader perspective of their chosen profession while staying on schedule to complete their degrees.

– Dr. David Sawyers


Photo: Our “flight” on the London Eye (photo credit: Dr. David Sawyers)

Left to Right: Bill Mills, Travis Clarkson, Connor Fleck, Kayla Hummel, Justin Sparks, Tom Zechman, Linda Zechman, Jamie Garbash, Eric Holodnak, Logan Kingen, Adam Black