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International co-op program at UC

Engineering dean leads country

In 1990, engineering associate dean Ken Challenger started one of the country's first global engineering co-op programs, which was the first time the University of Cincinnati had an organized office for education abroad. Since then, his efforts grew into the official International Co-op Program (ICP), which is housed in the Division of Professional Practice and welcomes students from all co-op disciplines -- engineering, business, architecture, planning and design.

Despite the generic name, ICP is not the avenue most UC co-op students use to work and study abroad. To participate in this specialized program, students often make up their minds a few years in advance so they can take intensive foreign-language courses, equivalent to three years of a high-school language, plus cultural studies, all of which culminate with a six-month international experience during the student's junior year, explains Gayle Elliott, A&S '93, M (DAAP) '96, associate professor of professional practice and program head.

The students are taught to set a precedent of communication in the host language by introducing themselves in that language on the first day of work, she says. "In the beginning, most of their colleagues speak English better than the students speak German or Japanese. But if the students explain their goal of becoming proficient in their new language, colleagues often respond with patience. Sometimes when people speak English to them, they respond in German or Japanese."

Employers love seeing ICP on resumes, she adds. "These students have proven that they can adjust and succeed in a culture that is not English-speaking.

"Through that experience, they learn that they can adapt to any new culture, deal with ambiguity and remain flexible. Those are characteristics that employers look for in any young professional.

"And when the companies are looking for people to promote in overseas positions, ICP students are usually at the top of the list."

        -- D. Rieselman


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