April 6, 2016

SEC Study Abroad Students Hoping to Grow In and Out of Classroom in Italy

SEC study abroad students have the opportunity to explore Europe during the semester
SEC study abroad students have the opportunity to explore Europe during the semester

By: Bryant Welbourne
SECU (Twitter: @TheSECU)

Sixteen Southeastern Conference engineering students are studying abroad this semester at the Politecnico di Tornio (PdT) in Torino, Italy, as part of an exchange program between SEC universities and the PdT. The students expect to learn about a different environment as well as different approaches in their academic disciplines.

“It’s very exciting to explore and experience the Italian culture and lifestyle,” said Miandra Maiers, an industrial engineering major at Mississippi State University. “My parents met and married while they were in the Peace Corps, and their stories of traveling inspired me to study abroad.”

The agreement between participating SEC universities and the PdT, originally signed in 2009, provides the opportunity for Italian students to enroll at SEC institutions each fall, and SEC students to study in Italy each spring. To date, more than 150 students have taken part in the exchange.

“This experience is giving me a wider and more humanitarian view on the world,” said Derek Phillips, an engineering management major at Vanderbilt University. “I am starting to consider the possibilities of working abroad in a country like Italy.”

In addition to the new culture, the SEC exchange program gives students new perspectives in their studies.

“As an industrial engineering student, I’ve loved researching and experiencing the different manufacturing and engineering processes used in Italy,” said Maiers.

The SEC seeks to increase the amount and type of education abroad opportunities for its students in a variety of ways. In addition to the PdT, the SEC supports a cooperative agreement that provides SEC students access to programs offered at other SEC universities, and Dr Pepper, a longtime SEC Corporate Sponsor, funds education abroad awards for underrepresented, high achieving students. All of these programs are managed by SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference.