This month, 12 students from Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) are visiting UMass Boston’s College of Science and Mathematics in an exchange designed to encourage academic collaboration in biology, computer science, and engineering. Additionally, 15 students from UMass Boston are studying at GCU. Those students are keeping a blog about their experiences in Scotland’s largest city.
The exchange isn’t limited to the students who are traveling abroad. Over 80 students participate in the exchange by forming teams to provide academic and cultural support for their peers both in Boston and in Scotland.
“The scale of it is extraordinary,” says CSM Dean Andrew Grosovsky. “The reciprocal nature of the exchange allows a large number of students to be true participants.”
At a welcome breakfast for the pre-med students visiting UMass Boston, a few Scottish students broke the ice by passing around chocolate oranges and marshmallow-filled tea cakes from their home country. Grosovsky reminded the students that while this week-long exchange will be full of cultural experiences, it is also an academic endeavor.
“Not everyone gets this opportunity. We need to make a shared commitment to making the most of it,” said Grosovsky. “If we do this together, the sense of having this shared accomplishment is going to be tremendously uplifting.”
The academic collaborations cover science topics from viral outbreaks to the latest gaming technology. On Friday, UMass Boston students in computer science and engineering presented their Wi-Fi-controlled car to the visiting GCU students. The Scottish students presented their game development and design projects, including several driving games. Together, students from both schools hope to create a game using the UMass Boston car.
“When you go out to the open world,” says GCU first-year student Farhad Chamo, “a lot of companies consider your academic background, but they want to know how you can collaborate with your own team, and people from other countries.”
First-year UMass Boston engineering student Tai Sierra agrees that the academic exchange has given her a new window into international collaboration.
“It’s not just a great opportunity to see what we can do together, but we can see the different learning styles, and how their classes are constructed to achieve their goals.”