Destination England: Aerospace engineering study-abroad opportunity

Arizona State University engineering students will have an opportunity in summer 2014 to pursue aerospace studies in England through a new faculty-directed study-abroad program. Aero-Mechanics Summer in England, developed by faculty member Timothy Takahashi, will take students to London and Southampton for five weeks.

“The strong cooperative ties and special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom in the defense technology field will be particularly highlighted,” Takahashi says. “The ideal student for this program is someone who is open minded, travel savvy, wants to experience a new culture and has a desire to learn more about aviation and defense,” he says.

Takahashi is a professor of practice in aerospace engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, which is sponsoring the program. The school is one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The program is coordinated with the University of Southampton, which will provide classroom space, housing for students and guest lecturers. Geared for junior and senior mechanical and aerospace engineering majors, it will enable students to earn academic credits while getting a cultural immersion in the United Kingdom.

Classes will end at noontime on Fridays and reconvene on Monday mornings, giving students the weekend to explore sites in Southampton and in nearby London. Trips may include course-related visits to the Royal Air Force Museum, the Imperial War Museum and Solent Sky Museum. Students may also choose to visit the dockyards where the Titanic was built in Southampton or see historic attractions such as Stonehenge.

Students may even have an opportunity to make their way to Paris via the “chunnel” across the English Channel. They will see aircraft engineered and built in the United Kingdom that are “rarely, if ever, seen in the United States,” Takahashi says.

Students will earn six credit hours by completing work during the program in MAE 400, an Engineering Profession course, and MAE 394, a course titled “Special Topics: Aeronautics in the U.K.” The special topics course will explore technology transfer between the United Kingdom and the United States, focusing on the collaboration and competition between the two countries in areas of national defense.

“It’s great to see firsthand the historical manifestation of this unique partnership,” Takahashi says. Students will also learn about the modern “rules of the sky” and “rules for design” as devised by the two countries through their government agencies, he adds.

In the Engineering Profession course, students will benefit from Takahashi’s varied educational and professional experience. Takahashi earned a doctoral degree in engineering and a law degree with a concentration in high-technology law. He also has 16 years of experience in the aerospace and defense industry.

In addition to offering students a “practitioner’s viewpoint” based on his industry experience, Takahashi will address “engineering issues related to both trademark, copyright and patent law, while addressing the sort of legal issues that an engineering professional might face.”

A faculty-directed study-broad opportunity differs from standard study-abroad programs because a faculty member designs and coordinates the program, while also instructing students throughout their travels. Programs such as this one “enable students to develop stronger relationships with faculty members in their field that will be of benefit as they pursue their careers,” says Kyle Squires, director of the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy.

“Engineering in general and aerospace engineering in particular are global professions, and the exposure students gain through these programs provides unique perspectives that will give them an advantage in their studies at ASU and throughout their careers,” Squires says.

Takashi says his own experience with faculty-directed study-abroad programs motivated him to develop a similar experience for ASU engineering students. While pursuing his law degree at the Santa Clara University School of Law, he had the opportunity to travel to Germany with an instructor and classmates. “I loved it,” he says. “Rarely do you get the opportunity to spend five weeks in another country.” He wanted to provide such a “once-in- a-lifetime” experience for ASU students.

Takahashi is not new to getting students involved in learning experiences outside the classroom. He has been advisor to ASU’s American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Air Devils student team, as well as the student Society of Automotive Engineers Heavy Lift team. He also serves as the faculty advisor to aerospace engineering students admitted into the Grand Challenge Scholar’s Program.

“The classroom is only one way to teach,” Takahashi says. He is hoping the Aero-Mechanics Summer in England program helps students realize that engineering is not solely “as solitary and mathematical” as it can feel in a classroom setting. “Engineering is truly a deeply social and participatory profession,” he says.

Learn more about the program.

Written by Rosie Gochnour and Joe Kullman

(480) 965-8122
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering

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