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CGE explores partnerships in Europe

The Center for Global Engagement and University of Tennessee, Knoxville, faculty recently traveled to Europe to research potential partnerships and forge ahead with already existing relationships.

Sean Lawrie, CGE’s Assistant Director of Global Partnerships, and Christina Gerdes, CGE’s Special Projects Coordinator, along with, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in Tickle College of Engineering, recently took a trip to the United Kingdom to further develop international partnerships and discover new relationships.

Representatives from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the University of York meet during a recent trip.

While in England, they visited the University of Leeds, a memorandum of understanding partner, The University of York and The University of Sheffield. Much of the visit was centered around increasing the international student exchange and faculty/student research opportunities for TCE. All three higher education institutions have strong engineering programs that focus on different subfields of engineering.

Since returning to Knoxville, Dr. Michael Berry, Professor for the Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, and Dr. Doug Aaron, Research Associate Professor for the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering, have begun coordinating a trip to the Diamond, a multidisciplinary engineering education space, at the University of Sheffield for TCE’s Engineering in London summer program.

“The recent visit to top universities in the UK has opened avenues for potential research partnerships in cutting-edge areas, such as nuclear fusion, advanced manufacturing, composite materials and AI, creating opportunities that can significantly enhance and expand our engagement in global research initiatives,” Danquah said. “These collaborations are set to broaden the international footprint of the Tickle College of Engineering, enriching both the academic offerings and the learning experiences of students. Engaging with these institutions promises to provide students with access to diverse educational environments and cutting-edge research, equipping them as globally competent engineers.”

After four days in England, Lawrie met Dr. Kevin Heaslip, Director of the Center for Transportation and Research in UT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in Krefeld, Germany, to meet with colleagues at The Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences. While there, both Universities met with colleagues from the University of Rwanda to continue discussions on a potential trilateral partnership that would work together to build off existing synergies between US, German and Rwandan partners to leverage information, logistics, technology and training expertise from all three institutions.

While Lawrie traveled to Germany, Gerdes traveled to Aberystwyth, Wales, to continue discussions with Aberystwyth University, who UT signed a letter of intent with in October 2023 on a future 1+3 partnership and potential international recruiting pathway. UT and Aberystwyth are now developing the concept note, creating curriculum maps and evaluating which colleges at UT would be the best match for both universities.

Under this groundbreaking agreement, international students could start their higher education journey at Aberystwyth and finish at UT. This would give students academic experiences and training on two continents, providing them with unique skills to be part of the global workforce, while also developing lifelong bonds in Wales as part of a Knoxville-bound cohort.

Simultaneously, Dr. Will Jennings, CGE’s Faculty Director of Global Learning and Student Impact, was in Spain meeting with representatives from almost half of Spain’s sixty universities as part of a Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities delegation to explore deeper cooperation with Spanish universities.

The HACU delegation members attended regional university networking events hosted by the University of Barcelona, University of Sevilla and University of Castile-La Mancha. The visit was hosted by Spain’s Ministry of Higher Education’s Office for the Internationalization of Higher Education in cooperation with Spain’s Institute for Foreign Trade.

The focus of Jennings’ efforts was to strengthen existing UT relationships with Spanish universities, recruit exceptional Spanish students to apply for graduate admission to UT and expand efforts to create more COIL (Collaborative Online International Learning) opportunities for students at UT to work with Spanish undergraduates online in multidisciplinary teams to address global challenges facing both countries.

The delegation met with Ambassador Julissa Reynosa, the first woman to lead the US Embassy in Madrid, about available federal funds to further partnerships and deeper cooperation between American and Spanish institutions of higher education.

It was, “exciting to be part of a delegation of higher education professionals from across the United States and this delegation gave me the opportunity to sell UT as a place to learn, research and collaborate with to a broad cross-section of Spanish universities,” Jennings said. “CGE and I want higher education professionals from across the world to know that UT is a must have partner for innovative research partnerships while we also work to ensure access for our students to world class study abroad and global learning opportunities.”

UT’s Dr. Will Jennings joins a delegation of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities to explore a deeper cooperation with Spanish universities.