Michaël P.J. Benfield and Matt W. Turner, Professors Engineer Program at UAH
“This year we are launching our 17th common project in applied research with ESTACA, and we are still convinced of the interest of our students. Every year about thirty students from University of Alabama in Huntsville join ESTACA students to collaborate on an applied research project called Integrated Product Team (IPT). Several binational teams are made in order to work on the same technical specifications given by a company, usually the NASA. After several months of teleworking, each team proposes a solution in front of a jury composed of industry professionals. The best proposal is rewarded. This year’s project, proposed by the NASA, is a mission to Europa, Jupiter’ satellite. We are going to associate 24 ESTACA students to the project.
This kind of international collaboration is really educative for our students. We both had a career as engineers before starting teaching at UAH. We noticed that the main difficulty for engineering students is not technical but more linked to coordination, communication and language. With this IPT project, the students face all these difficulties: how to manage cultural differences, language problems, teleworking with time difference, deadlines, etc. We note that the students taking part in those projects blend more rapidly in the business world. ESTACA’ students also seem to appreciate this collaboration. Regularly, some ESTACA students come back for an exchange semester at UAH after this experience. Some of them continue with a PhD in the USA. One of our alumni has become a lecturer at Purdue University!”