Summer course sends Western Engineering students to world renowned institute in France

Western Engineering News | May 19, 2017

In the North-East corner of France, in the region of Lorraine, sits the city of Nancy, tucked in beside the left bank of the river Meurthe, amid lush forests and green rolling hills. Dating back to the middle ages, Nancy is described as a combination of innovation and sophistication with its cobble stone streets, majestic cathedrals and breath-taking architecture.

Apart from its history and old world charm, Nancy is also home to École Nationale Supérieure des Industries Chemiques (ENSIC), an Engineering school, founded in 1892, dedicated to chemical engineering. ENSIC is one of the finest engineering schools in France with a global mindset focused on interaction between European countries and towards the international scientific community.

In 2016, Western Engineering launched a new, non-technical credit course which gives students an opportunity to study at ENSIC while also experiencing life, culture and technology in another country.

"This is a very unique opportunity," said course developer, organizer and instructor Professor Lauren Briens. "There is a need for our engineering students to develop intercultural competencies to be successful in their careers within a global corporate nation."

For almost four weeks, students participate in many experiential learning opportunities ranging from lab demonstrations to industry tours. There is minimal classroom lecture time. "They don't need to travel to France to sit in a lecture theatre," said Briens. "The industry tours provide exciting, in-depth experiences where students get a real sense of complexity and interactions. They're not just sitting in the lobby."

From experiencing the sights and sounds of cities such as Paris and Strasbourg during the weekends to spending a day in the lab, students enrolled in the program are benefiting in a multitude of ways.

"When they return, in addition to other assignments, they are expected to complete a reflective report," explained Briens. "What did they learn? How did they grow? These are important questions."

This successful template of experience for chemical engineering students is growing into future opportunities for other departments within the Faculty. The intention is for all four Western Engineering departments to offer similar courses to their students.

Last year there were 15 students in the course and this year there are 11. The students return with new friendships both with students from ENSIC and other students in the course.

Follow these eleven students as they catalogue their experiences via Instagram at es3310.chemeng.