News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 10, 2010

Rose-Hulman has student exchange with Japan

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Even in Japan, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is well-known for its high-quality education in engineering, math and science.

That’s why Japanese college students Yusuke Abe and Tomoya Sakai are spending three weeks at Rose-Hulman to take classes and also soak in some American culture.

“Rose Hulman is a very famous university,” said Abe, 19, who just completed his freshman year at Japan’s University of Aizu. It’s his first time to visit a foreign country. “This is an opportunity for me.”

On Tuesday, Rose-Hulman President Matt Branam welcomed Shigeaki Tsunoyama, president of the University of Aizu, as part of a two-day campus visit to discuss the progress of ongoing international educational programs between both technological institutions.

Rose-Hulman entered into a cooperative agreement with the University of Aizu in 2006, and the agreement facilitates student exchanges.

Rose-Hulman also added a bachelor’s degree program in international studies this year and has expanded its international programs. 

“We hear the world is getting smaller and flatter, and we know our economy is global,” Branam said. “But also in the technical area, we share very much in common. It’s very important for us to understand other cultures so we can work well in those cultures … and advance our sciences and our engineering fields.”

Providing students these opportunities in other countries also can make them even more marketable in the work force.

“There’s no question the employers of our graduates are looking for young people who have demonstrated they have the academics, but they also understand how the world works and they can deal with other cultures in other settings,” Branam said.

Last year, four Rose-Hulman seniors attended the University of Aizu from March to August, taking graduate-level classes in English that covered a variety of specialized computer science subjects.

Each class had the Rose-Hulman students working in project groups with other students from China, Bulgaria, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Colombia and Vietnam. 

“I thought it would be good to go outside Rose-Hulman and experience a different school, a different environment and a different culture,” said Elliot Simon, a computer engineering major.

After graduation, he’ll work for a company in California that has several ties to Japan.

Jamie Kleeman, a physics major who also studied at Aizu, worked on one project with a student from Bulgaria and another student from China. “Everybody approached things differently. They had their own way of coming at it and their own way of tackling the problems,” he said.

He realized that “so many of the things we take for granted are strongly rooted in our culture and our upbringing,” Kleeman said. He plans on attending graduate school, possibly in Japan.

One Aizu student will spend the entire spring at Rose-Hulman, and four Rose-Hulman students will leave later this month to begin classes at Aizu.

Tsunoyama, University of Aizu president, said that the university wanted a relationship with Rose-Hulman “because the quality of education at Rose-Hulman is very good, very high-level … It’s very beneficial for our students.”

The University of Aizu offers Japan’s largest program in computer science, computer engineering and information technology. It is well-known for its high-tech environment, international faculty and innovative activities. The university has 1,100 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. 

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.