From Jan. 7-13, students from UR and from the University of Miami met in Florida to participate in the “Engineering for the Americas” program, a forum designed to create a group of engineers from across the Americas and to increase their contacts throughout the region.

“The program has given me opportunities I would never have gotten otherwise,” program participant and junior Jason Brodsky said. “Not only have I made new friends through our similar majors, but I have learned about our differences, both in education and in culture.”

The program consists of two parts, the first being the meeting in Miami. In June, the venue will shift to UR, where the 40 students from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico and the United States will once again meet. Of these students, 10 are from UR.

In all, the program’s organizers hope to expose students to experiences normally not available to engineering majors.

“Engineering students tend not to participate in study-abroad programs due to their rigorous course schedules,” Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Kevin Parker said. “We’re very pleased to bring this opportunity to enhance our students’ education.”

Students who participated in the Miami session were exposed to in-depth seminars covering many aspects of engineering fields. In addition, the program’s structure allowed students time to meet with industry leaders and with companies specializing in engineering, as well as to take in the Miami sun.

“I not only learned about additional job applications, but I also was able to hear prominent speakers address the topics of leadership, patent law, and entrepreneurship,” program participant and junior Trevor DiMarco said.

Among the organizers of the event was University of Miami’s Dean of the College of Engineering M. Lewis Temares. Temares also serves as the school’s Vice President for Information Technology.

“The first week of the program went exactly how you’d expect for an Engineering project – on time, on budget and the lecturers along with the students exceeded expectations,” Temares said.

Expectations for the program remain high, according to organizers. The stated goal is still “to create a cohort of highly-talented engineering students across the Americas who will build lasting professional relationships that will benefit them, their institutions, their countries and enhance the progress of the engineering community in general.”

Students who attended the sessions felt that they had gained experience beyond what is available in the traditional college setting.

“I experienced one of the greatest cultural exchanges I have ever had,” DiMarco said. “My experiences with the Latin Americans were amazing, and it was fascinating to hear about their countries and the role of engineering in them.”

Other students agreed with DiMarco’s assessment.

“The Engineering for the Americas Program offered a unique opportunity to interact with top students from several countries of the Americas and with leaders from industry and academia,” program participant and graduate student Benjamin Castaneda said. “I was impressed with the quality of speakers who lectured in topics related to leadership, innovation, entrepreneurship, intellectual property and technology transfer. These are topics that a well-rounded engineer must know.”

The Rochester session in June will also work towards this goal, with discussion topics including leadership, innovation and politics. Students who attend both sessions, according to organizers, will receive a certificate of participation in addition to the valuable experience and connections each has developed.

“I look forward to the June session here at UR,” Brodsky said. “Beyond that, I look forward to working with my new friends out in the workplace of the future.”

Majarian is a member of the class of 2008.

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