Preparing Engineers for Global Challenges: Engaging with
Chile through the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Initiative
Megan Echevarria, Sigrid Berka
ASEE International Forum
June 14, 2014
International Engineering @ URI
• 5-year Dual Degree
• B.S. in an engineering field
• B.A. in foreign language
• Semester study abroad
• 6-month paid internship
Five-year Dual Degree Program
Bachelor of Science in
Five-year Dual Degree Program
Bachelor of Arts in
Foreign Language
*Minor in Portuguese in
Senior Year:
Semester Abroad at a Partner University
China - Zhejiang University
France - Université de Technologie de Compiègne
Germany - TU-Braunschweig
Mexico - ITESM Monterrey & Toluca Campuses
Spain - Universidades de Zaragoza, Navarra, & Cantabria
Italy – Universidad de Calabria
Chile – Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile
IEP Enrollment over the Past 10 Years
IEP Distribution % by Language 2013-14
Italian, 3%
Chinese, 9%
French, 12%
German, 50%
Spanish, 26%
IEP Distribution % by Majors 2013-14
Undeclared, 3%
Ocean, 10%
Biomedical, 11%
Chemical, 12%
Civil, 11%
Mechanical, 35%
Computer, 7%
Industrial, 5%
The Spanish IEP and its Chile Initiative
Director, Megan M. Echevarría
June 6, 2014
Successful Grant Proposal
100K Strong in the Americas
•Over $50,000 of agency funds
•One of four universities to
inaugurate Obama’s initiative
•Launch ceremony with
Joseph Biden and John Kerry
•Over $35,000 in student
•Instrumental cost share from
•Front page of Providence Journal
Engaging with Chile through the 100,000
Strong in the Americas Initiative
• URI Goal:
Engage engineering students from the
United States and Chile in international
study and experiential service-learning
Key activities
• Activity 1. January-August 2014 International
Internship Program in Chile
• Activity 2. August-December 2014 Bilateral
Academic Exchange
• Activity 3. September-December 2014
Innovations in Sustainability in Chile Spanish
• Activity 4. January 2015 - Sustainability Project
and Study Tour in Chile
Activity 1. January-August International
Internship Program in Chile
• Kenneth Betzold and
Erik Simpanen:
• Amandine Gatali:
Geotecnia Ambiental
• Chris Capuano and
Kevin Drumm: Hope
• Nick Crowley: Ennera
• Michael Caneja:
• Preston Steele: 3P Bio
• Dana Demers:
• Nicholas Bodell-Kudla and
Michael Smith: UPGC
• Luis de Cardenas and
Jason Dides: Indaber
Amandine Gatali: Geotecnia Ambiental
Geotecnia Ambiental (Valparaíso, Chile)
•Geotech company heavily involved in Chile’s mining industry
Primary project
• Recommendations and assistance
for mining companies as they adapt
processes in order to comply with
new environmental management
• Part of an environmental impact
team researching methods of
measuring humidity in mine tailings
in order to prevent collapse and to
control displacement of mine waste
Reflections on Chile
• I am working at a geotechnical and environmental company that deals
primarily with mines around Chile. I have been working on a project
that is dealing with a closing copper mine and how to make sure that
the environment is well cared for and all environmental rules are
followed and the community is around the area is care for.
• Since moving to Valparaíso as well I have taken advantage to travel
and experience as much as I can of the country and of South America,
within Chile I have visited Pucón, La Serena, Isla Negra, Santiago, El
Cajon de Maipo and many more. I think every single travel experience
I have had had been awesome, because all the places had distinct
cultures, people and tradition and it was incredible having to really
understand something much different than what you know and are
used to.
Kenneth Betzold: Novacare
Novacare (Concepción, Chile)
•Small biomedical company focused on distribution and
maintenance of medical equipment
Primary project
• Analysis of post-sales service and support processes and needs
• Design and creation of an
adaptable database to monitor
the life of each piece of
equipment sold and serviced
• Design of new processes to
centralize generation of different
types of documentation to
maximize time and minimize
Erik Simpanen: Novacare
Shown here at the crater of Chile’s most active volcano in Pucón, Chile.
(Vulcán Villarica)
Primary project
• Part of a team of product managers providing support for all
other Novacare personnel as well as clients in need of
technical support and service on equipment
• Conducting market research in order
to make recommendations about new
products and brands
• Brand specialist for Fukuda Denshi,
serving as lead technical support
person for their products and as the
liaison between Novacare clients and
the manufacturer’s representatives in
Japan and Switzerland
Reflections from Chile on internship experience
After my semester in Spain I flew to Concepción, Chile where I am
currently continuing the next chapter of my abroad experience. I am
working with Novacare Medical, a company that sells medical
equipment to all regions of Chile, as an Imaging Specialist. We just
recently started selling imaging equipment and my job involves not
only understanding our equipment from an engineering standpoint but
also building relationships with the manufacturers of our products all
over the world.
These international relationships have me contacting companies
located in Japan, China and Switzerland and conveying this
information to the salesmen here in Concepción. This international,
professional contacting is something I can definitely see myself doing
in the future.
Here in Chile, as well as Spain, I had to adapt to the cultural norms that come with
studying and working in another culture. This is not something that can be taught but
must be learned through experience. For example, a kiss on the cheek or a handshake at
the beginning and the end of every workday was definitely something that at first
seemed very strange. Now, however, it is normal part of my day.
(Erik Simpanen with fellow SIEP/GIEP EE Kenneth Betzold)
Activity 2. August-December Bilateral Academic
• Six SIEP students going to PUCV Fall `14
• Internships in Spring/summer `15
• Majors in CHE, CVE, 2xMCE, OCE
• Two incoming engineering undergraduate
students coming from PUCV
Activity 3. September-December Innovations in
Sustainability in Chile Spanish course
– First “Grand Challenges” seminar for incoming freshman Fall `14
to be delivered in a foreign language
– Connecting language and technical area early on
– Recruit for SIEP
A specialized three-credit Spanish course for first-year engineering
students at URI during the fall 2014 semester. The course will
provide students with the opportunity to continue developing their
Spanish language proficiency while studying content focused on
current and future innovations in sustainability in Chile.
Student and faculty participants from the other Chile activities will
also be invited to contribute to the course: students and faculty from
the United States and Chile will be invited to participate in guest
panels, and Spanish-speaking URI engineering faculty will give
guest lectures.
Activity 4. January - Sustainability Project
and Study Tour in Chile
–Service-learning research project and study tour in Chile
– J-term program
– Vinka Craver, Civil Engineering Associate Prof. is project director
– Civil engineering course credit
– Visits to local companies
Faculty specializing in Environmental Engineering from URI and PUCV will
collaboratively direct a two-week research institute in Valparaiso to enable
students to work together studying anaerobic energy systems. The students
will create portable anaerobic models and share them with people in local
rural communities in order to raise awareness about sustainability practices
that could be easily implemented in their areas.
17th Annual Colloquium on International
Engineering Education
Providence, Rhode Island
November 6-8, 2014
For information contact Sigrid Berka
Spanish IEP Director/ Asst. Dir. IEP position
Assistant Director of the International Engineering Program (IEP)/
Spanish IEP Director
•Direct the Spanish International Engineering Program (SIEP).
•In consultation with the Executive Director, coordinate the day-to-day operations of the Spanish branch
of the International Engineering Program (SIEP), an innovative and interdisciplinary academic program
with approximately 100 students enrolled
•Manage relationship with five partner universities in Spain, Mexico and Chile.
•Expand partnerships with universities and corporations in these countries as well as other countries in
Latin America.
This position is full time, limited to 07-15-2015 with extension contingent on funding. to apply
Visit the URI jobs website at:
and view complete details for job posting
Short IEP videos