Engineering today is a global profession. Engineers are increasingly being called upon to work with other engineers from across the world, or they may even find themselves living abroad on an overseas assignment. Learning problem-solving skills in a foreign context will help engineering students to expand their horizons, and their adaptability to cross-cultural communication will make them a valuable addition to a team of engineers.
Study abroad allows engineering students to discover the field through the perspective of engineers working in a different language and culture, enabling them to learn the relationship of culture to science and develop the range of transferable skills that employers are seeking today. Study abroad will help students develop intellectually, emotionally, culturally, and socially.
Columbia Engineering undergraduate students can study abroad for either a semester (fall, spring, or summer) or, exceptionally, for a full academic year. Students from every engineering major have studied abroad without adding any time to their course of study at Columbia. Most do so in the spring semester of their sophomore year or in their junior year.
The Office for Undergraduate Student Affairs will help students identify the appropriate choice for their country of interest and their major. The Associate Dean for Undergraduate Student Affairs and Global Programs and departmental advisers will help students with their course equivalencies for approved programs so they can graduate on time. Students can take nontechnical electives overseas, or with departmental permission, they may choose technical electives or courses in their major.
It is essential that students begin planning as early as possible—ideally this would be during their first year. Students are encouraged to meet with the Office of Global Programs to review possible overseas destinations and to decide on an appropriate abroad experience. The SEAS Office of Undergraduate Student Affairs will explain all Columbia Engineering study abroad formalities and requirements. Students must obtain approval from their departmental advisers to ensure that their work abroad meets the requirements of their majors, as well as clearance from their Advising Dean in the James H. and Christine Turk Berick Center for Student Advising.