Since 2011, Villanova University College of Engineering has had a relationship with Nicaragua’s Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería (UNI), the country’s premier college of engineering. For the past six years, a formal Memorandum of Understanding between the two universities has opened doors to new research, teaching and service initiatives that have benefited both institutions. The MOU has also encouraged the exchange of students and faculty, as well as the development of innovative curricula in areas of mutual interest, including sustainability, energy, water resources, information and communication technology, entrepreneurship and more. In November 2017, a leadership team from UNI visited Villanova to tour College facilities, discuss research with faculty and consider new opportunities for collaboration.
Having initiated the relationship between the two schools in 2010, Villanova Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Pali Singh, PhD, coordinated the two-day visit with the heads of UNI’s departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Industrial and Mechanical Engineering, and Chemical Engineering. They were accompanied by UNI’s vice president of academic affairs, Freddy Marin. In addition to meeting with Villanova faculty in their related disciplines, the UNI delegates toured the engineering labs and distance learning facilities, were introduced to the College’s research centers, and learned about its successful sustainable engineering program.
The visit also led to discussions about continuing education opportunities for UNI’s junior faculty. Dr. Singh explains, “About half of UNI’s faculty is set to retire in the next few years and the University’s leadership wants to see junior faculty pursue advanced degrees in Europe and the United States—including Villanova.” Recognizing that fluency in English is an obstacle, the College is planning to arrange for three junior faculty from UNI to take part in six-month research internships with Villanova Engineering faculty, where, in the process of developing their engineering research skills, they also will be immersed in the English-speaking culture. The hope is that these same faculty members will then be prepared to pursue their PhDs at Villanova.
Finally, the visit included discussion around Villanova’s participation in an engineering conference that UNI plans to organize and host in November 2018. It will be the first international event presented by the school, and Dr. Singh and Villanova Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Robert Traver, PhD, and Justinus Satrio, PhD, associate professor of Chemical Engineering, have been asked to participate as keynote speakers.
Dr. Singh says, “I look forward to the many opportunities that lie ahead for the partnership between Villanova and UNI.”