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Engineering international exchange programs offer opportunity to connect to a global community

Engineering international exchange programs offer opportunity to connect to a global community


An interest in travel drove him to study abroad, but Mechanical Engineering student Robert Gillespy also gained technical skills, career focus and new contacts from the experience. Gillespy studied at the Technical University of Dresden in summer 2022 and at CETYS University in Mexico in summer 2023. The programs are offered through the College of Engineering’s International Exchange Program.

In Germany, Gillespy had a paid internship working on experimental aerodynamics: he conducted experimental testing on model wings in a wind tunnel. The experience, he said, “really guided my desire to get into aerodynamics and fluid dynamics. Germany was a big stepping stone for what I wanted to do in my career.”

Gillespy and two other University of Nevada, Reno students took part in the program, which connected them with a global community.

“There were students from around the world there, so it was a good opportunity to meet students from diverse backgrounds,” Gillespy said.

Gillespy’s other study abroad experience was a two-week program at CETYS University in Ensenada in Baja California, Mexico. The international program brought engineering and business students from around the world to study together and network. This time he was the only one from the University to go.

“Mexico was a unique opportunity,” Gillespy said. “Since it wasn’t so engineering-oriented, it gave me good insight into the business operation side of things. Part of the events we did was touring the manufacturing plants, (delving) a lot into the operation sides, which was a different perspective on engineering as a whole.”

Those types of experiences augment an engineering education, according to Julie McMillin, who coordinates the College of Engineering’s International Exchange Programs.

“Besides academic rigor, studying abroad can help you develop the “softer” skills that employers are looking for,” McMillin said. “Skills like independence, teamwork, leadership and adaptability.” 

Gillespy credits McMillin for introducing him to study abroad and allaying some of his concerns about studying abroad, particularly around financing.

“There are a lot of opportunities out there to receive funding,” Gillespy said. “Finances are a big part of (studying abroad), but another big part of it is just living smart while there.” 

Fiscal management wasn’t the only thing Gillespy learned in the field: he realized the importance of making global connections, even if there’s a language barrier.

“Going somewhere where you can’t speak the language is challenging,” Gillespy said. “Figuring out how to adapt to a foreign environment was a big change. Still … once you make those friendships, they are strong.”

If you are interested in engineering programs abroad, please reach out to Julie McMillin at juliemcmillin@unr.edu. Applications for the Germany summer research program currently are being accepted. The program offers an opportunity to research abroad at no cost to the student. 


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