HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (Nov. 2, 2017) — Northern Kentucky University has been awarded a grant from the French Embassy to increase the number of STEM students who study abroad in France. The French Embassy’s $18,100 grant was matched by NKU to provide $36,200 in dedicated funds for the program.
The grant was awarded under the Transatlantic Friendship and Mobility Initiative and will allow 10 STEM majors from NKU to study for a semester and/or conduct summer research at French partner institutions: the Université de Rennes 1 and the Institut Universitaire de Technologie de Lannion. The current STEM International Research and Scholarly Exchange Program (STEM-IRSEP) has sent STEM majors abroad for summer research projects. This is the first external grant the program has received and will extend the time abroad without delaying graduation.
“It is difficult for STEM students to study abroad for an entire semester because the curriculum is very strictly organized. When our partner universities in France began to offer more classes taught in English, I realized our STEM student could take some of their electives while studying abroad during the semester. They can also extend their time in France to take part in summer research projects,” said Dr. Isabelle Lagadic, associate professor of Chemistry and STEM-IRSEP coordinator.
A computer information technology major from the College of Informatics and a biological science major will be the first to take advantage of the grant’s expanded program. They will study in France for the Fall 2018 semester and have the option to previously complete a research internship during the summer 2018. Dr. Lagadic says gaining international experience give these students an edge on the competition.
“Most STEM graduates in the top tier all have very similar experiences and resumes. Studying abroad helps our graduates stand out from the pack. It demonstrates that they can work independently out of their comfort zone,” said Dr. Lagadic. “That is also of value to large international corporations looking for STEM employees. These graduates have had exposure to STEM research outside of the U.S. and can hit the ground running coordinating with their counterparts in different countries
NKU’s STEM-IRSEP has welcomed 44 international students from partner universities. Many of these students will in return host the NKU STEM majors spending a semester in France. Dr. Lagadic is now looking for funding to increase faculty participation in this program.