College of Engineering builds on history, forges new paths to provide global perspective for students

DETROIT (Oct. 22, 2013) ­– The Wayne State University College of Engineering has focused on providing its students with the best education possible since its founding in 1933. While its focus on quality research, classroom and hands-on learning remains, the college continues to enhance its reach, forging new international paths and partnerships that provide students with more opportunities to gain a global perspective.

“Educating students in 2013 and beyond means we need to help them learn how to work across different cultures and adapt to changing technologies in a global economy. We want our students to be able to study and live abroad, conduct research with international scholars, and learn from our diverse faculty, alumni and student communities. Employers are looking for employees with a global perspective, and our goal is make sure Wayne State engineering and computer science graduates have it,” says College of Engineering Dean Farshad Fotouhi.

The college has been ramping up its international efforts throughout the past few decades. Global efforts in the 1970 and ‘80s were largely the result of professional and personal relationships that the culturally diverse College of Engineering faculty had with researchers and academics in other countries. Efforts then expanded under the vision of former deans Ralph Kummler and Chin Kuo, who established international conferences and travelled extensively to Chinese universities to explore opportunities for student exchange programs, respectively.

In the past decade — especially under the leadership of current Dean Farshad Fotouhi — the college has built upon its international presence and ramped up efforts to prepare students for a global workplace and strengthen ties with industry and educational institutions throughout the world. Some recent statistics and efforts are outlined below.

A diverse student body
This past year, the College of Engineering enrolled nearly 90 international undergraduate students and more than 500 international graduate students from 41 countries. Many Wayne State students have already made an impact on others around the world.

Wayne State computer science students, for example, are changing the way health care is performed. They developed EasyEMR, an open source electronic medical record software that was used by the WSU World Health Student Organization on a December 2012 trip to Haiti. The software allows users to record a patient’s vitals; history of present illness; a brief medical, social and family history; and past and present medication. Everything was made available on one easy-to-use screen with as few clicks as possible. The system was also designed to fit into the chaotic flow of the transient medical clinics, where hundreds of patients line up, often early in the morning.

Alumni all over the world

  Carter stands with a water committee in
Haroresa Community, Africa. They were there surveying
the area to determine possible water solutions.

College of Engineering alumni can be found living and working in more than 48 countries in all corners of the globe, including Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Greece, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Sweden and Venezuela. Alumnus Timothy Carter, for instance, is impacting lives in South Sudan, thanks to his engineering education and role as an area coordinator with Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. Since joining the organization in 2011, Carter’s projects have included bringing water to more than 30 African communities during the East African drought crisis, helping bring hundreds of latrines to towns and villages, and helping rehabilitate community water pans — the only source of water for most villages. Today, his work in drilling and assistance in food security and livelihood is mostly with displaced persons, refugees and returnees following the Sudanese Civil War.

Faculty experts
College faculty members are well-known international experts. Their promising research will enhance quality of life throughout the world. For example, Weisong Shi, professor of computer science who is currently serving as a National Science Foundation program director, is working to improve life in developing areas. Along with Paul Kilgore, WSU professor of pharmacy practice, Shi’s research on a unique immunization record system will be particularly useful in developing nations that lack real-time information on current vaccine supplies.

Faculty members promote engineering education and host WSU alumni gatherings in other countries. For example, Tapan Datta, professor of civil engineering and director of the WSU Transportation Research Group, and Harpreet Singh, professor of electrical and computer engineering, have traveled to India to host alumni and recruitment events on behalf of the college.

Renowned international faculty members also receive scholars from other countries. Professor of Mechanical Engineering Chin-An Tan, for instance, has welcomed visiting international scholars to campus to partner in research initiatives. “Our visiting scholars bring a unique perspective to our research,” Tan says. “They also help provide current students with a greater understanding of how to work across cultures.”

3+2 programs

  On May 9, 12 Chinese students were the first to graduate from Wayne State University's 3+2 program - a partnership with several Chinese universities.

An increasing number of students attend Wayne State thanks to 3+2 programs that require them to study three years at their home institutions followed by two years at WSU. After one year at WSU, they earn their bachelor’s degrees from their home institution and, at the conclusion of their second year, earn master’s degrees from WSU. In May 2013, 12 Chinese students were the first to graduate from the program, earning master’s degrees in computer science.

“Wayne State’s 3+2 programs provide a great opportunity for international students to attend a well-known and nationally ranked research university in the United States,” said Jie Cao, a program participant. “I have learned a lot from my program and gained a great deal of experience working on practical, real-world projects with direct societal impacts. Plus, people here are very friendly and collaborative.”

International agreements
In addition to 3+2 programs, the college has a number of agreements with universities from around the world. These include Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology; Hangzhou Dianzi University in Hangzhou, China; Soochow University in Suzhou, China; and South China University of Technology in Guangzhou China.

Additionally, the college has met with other universities to explore similar agreements. For instance, the college recently welcomed a delegation from Riga Technical University in Riga, Latvia, to continue discussions on joint academic and exchange programs. A delegation from Zhejiang University of Technology’s College of Mechanical Engineering and Fuzhou University also visited the college recently to explore the possibility of a joint degree program.

Global Experience Scholarship Program

  College of Engineering students travelled to China this past summer to study at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT).

In February 2013, the college and WSU’s Office for International Programs announced the creation of the Global Experience Scholarship Program to provide engineering and computer science undergraduate students with scholarships to gain research and industry experience abroad. The first recipients of the scholarship travelled to China this past summer to study at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT). According to Fotouhi, future cohorts of recipients may travel to SIAT; other Chinese institutions such as the Hubei University of Automotive Technology, Soochow University and South China University of Technology; or many others in countries around the world.

“We already have had discussions with institutions in Europe, South America and the Middle East about creating similar types of opportunities for our students,” said Fotouhi. “With a diverse faculty and alumni in 48 countries, there’s really an enormous opportunity to further expand our efforts. We have remarkable students here at Wayne State, and we want to provide them with the necessary tools to be successful and inventive global-minded citizens.”

WSU Study Abroad
College students also participate in study abroad programs through the WSU Office of Study Abroad and Global Programs. In addition to general programs in places such as Lebanon, Italy and Germany, there are a number of specific programs for engineering and computer science students that focus on research and culture immersion. Computer science juniors and seniors also have the opportunity to spend an entire semester at University de Nantes in France, where they partake in diversified academic and research programs in a variety of scientific and technological fields.

Take biomedical engineering senior Maha Fakherddine, who spent her sophomore spring break with two dozen other students in rural areas of Belize, setting up screening clinics for diabetes and hypertension. “As a student, you're interested in certain ideas like medicine and engineering but until you actually partake in them, how can you really know whether or not the path is for you? My trip to Belize confirmed all the aspects I loved about medicine and engineering, and opened my eyes to a lot I hadn't considered,” said Fakherddine.

A global view of the future
As the College of Engineering looks forward to the next 80 years, it’s setting its sights on increased global efforts. In its 2012-17 strategic plan, the college established the Five Pillars to a Wayne State engineering education. As part of its “global perspective” pillar, the college aims to establish and increase overseas programs and courses, establish partnerships with American and foreign companies for internships and awareness seminars and to establish an “Engineers Without Borders” program.

Throughout October, the Wayne State College of Engineering celebrates its 80th anniversary. For more information on anniversary events and activities, visit


Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution of higher education offering 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 29,000 students. For more information about engineering at Wayne State University, visit

150 years in the heart of Detroit