Student creates study abroad program

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    Creating a study abroad program may not be something many students consider, but sophomore engineering major Mathew Antony did just that.

    Antony will spend this spring semester in Manchester, England, continuing his studies at the University of Manchester in a program he created through the study abroad office and the engineering department.

    He approached his adviser in the engineering department, Professor Tristan Tayag, last spring to discuss his study abroad options. However, there was no semester-long study abroad options for engineering students.

    “Dr. Tayag was really open to the possibility of a study abroad program though,” Antony wrote in an email from Manchester. “He told me that if I did my research into a good university and got necessary course equivalents for engineering classes that I would have to take, then studying abroad would definitely be possible.”

    Antony first had to find the right university, he said. Once he did that, he made a course plan to see what courses he needed to take to maintain his degree progress for graduating in four years.

    In the beginning, Antony looked at institutions in Germany, France and Switzerland, but could not find programs there because the instruction was not in English. The next concern was the engineering program itself and finding the equivalent courses, Tayag said.

    Antony said he would be studying dynamics, spacecraft flight, solids and structures II, aerospace systems and entrepreneurship skills.

    “I’m excited about doing the aerospace engineering courses (spacecraft flight and aerospace systems) because TCU doesn’t have an aerospace engineering program,” Antony wrote. “So it will be interesting to dabble in this other field of engineering and see what it’s like.”

    Tayag said the goal was to try to keep Antony on track to graduate in four years, and the best time for engineering students to study abroad was the spring semester of their sophomore year.

    “It’s a good experience for him,” Tayag said.

    The engineering department is set up on a lockstep system, Tayag said, which requires students to take classes in a certain order because the classes are prerequisites for the next one. The classes Antony will take in Manchester were not prerequisites for following classes in the engineering department, he said.

    “Is the same exact things he would learn over here? No it’s not, but that’s one of the benefits of him going to study at another university,” Tayag said. “You get a different perspective.”

    Antony wrote that he believed the program he created could be replicated for other engineering students.

    “One thing I’m going to do this semester is survey the engineering students and see how much interest there is [in study abroad programs],” Tayag said. “The trick is finding the serious interest level.”

    Students needed to know the real value of studying abroad, Antony wrote.

    “I feel that every TCU student should try and spend at least one of their eight semesters abroad,” Antony wrote. “For a school whose mission is to educate students to think and act as responsible citizens in the global community, there’s no better way to be a ‘citizen of the world’ than to get a taste of life outside of the United States.”

    Staff members in the Center for International Studies were unavailable for comment.