The UA College of Engineering recently welcomed a group of French aerospace engineering students to campus for a semester of study in the labs and classrooms of the aerospace and mechanical engineering department.
The 36 third-year students are all from L'Institut Polytechnique des Sciences Avancées, or IPSA, an aerospace engineering school with sites in Paris and Toulouse. IPSA translates as the Polytechnic Institute of Advanced Science.
IPSA funds the Semester Abroad program to enable its third-year aerospace engineering students to improve their language skills and increase their aerospace industry knowledge.
Eniko Enikov, associate professor in the department of aerospace and mechanical engineering, has been organizing the UA's end of the program for more than a year. He has organized study programs for UA students at European universities and is a firm believer in academic internationalization. His experience in this area prompted IPSA to enlist his help setting up the French student visit.
In 2008, Enikov was involved in a program to educate UA engineering students in Eastern Europe. "There is a growing trend in academic internationalization," said Enikov at the time. "Students need to be able to compete globally. Students will be more marketable if they have foreign experience," he said.
Eniko also wants to expose UA students to other cultures. "I hope that UA Engineering students will want to interact with overseas students," he said. "It's an opportunity to do some self-evaluation on a global basis."
The IPSA program not only brings students, and the funding to teach them, to UA, it also gives Enikov and his fellow faculty an opportunity to identify potential grad students who could be tempted to pursue postgraduate study at UA.
Like all the students in the group, Nisrine Louh, who attends IPSA's Paris campus, is in the third year of a five-year engineering degree course. "I love space and rockets, and I am a big fan of NASA," she said.
She is already an admirer of local scenery and culture, and described Tucson and its environs as "beautiful landscapes." She was intrigued by the Tucson Rodeo, and was considering a visit to find out more. "There is nothing like it in France," she said.