NanoJapan International Research Experience for Undergraduates: Preparing Globally Engaged Science and Engineers
The NanoJapan: International Research Experience for Undergraduates Program, established by a National Science Foundation Partnerships for International Research and Education (NSF-PIRE) grant in 2006, is a twelve-week summer program through which twelve freshman and sophomore physics and engineering students from U.S. universities complete research internships in Japanese nanotechnology laboratories. NanoJapan tightly integrates the international experience with students’ academic programs by providing hands-on opportunities to acquire technical skills and knowledge associated with cutting-edge nanotechnology research projects. The program aims to increase the numbers of U.S. students who pursue graduate study in nanoscience and cultivate a generation of globally aware engineers and scientists who are prepared for international research collaboration. The NanoJapan program is the key educational initiative of the National Science Foundation–funded Partnerships for International Research and Education (NSF-PIRE) grant awarded to the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of Rice University and the Center for Global Education at the University of Tulsa. The program was awarded five years of funding in 2006 and has been renewed for another five years. This paper will provide an overview and justification for the development of the NanoJapan Program, provide an overview of our program assessment and student outcomes to date, and conclude with an overview of the potential impact of the NanoJapan Program model on STEM education and international engineering programs nationwide.