URI launches Italian option in International Engineering Program

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KINGSTON, R.I. – September13, 2013 – Students enrolled in the University of Rhode Island’s International Engineering Program now have the option of spending a year studying and interning in Italy, thanks to a new partnership with the University of Calabria in southern Italy.

The International Engineering Program requires that students major in an engineering discipline and a foreign language and spend a year abroad. The 26-year-old program, the first of its kind in the United States, also offers German, French, Spanish and Chinese options.

“Italy is one of the most highly industrialized countries in the world, where engineers work to design some of the world’s best cars, motorcycles, bicycles, small appliances and electronics,” said Michelangelo La Luna, URI associate professor of Italian and director of the Italian IEP program. “It will give our engineering students an opportunity to learn and work in Italy, which is already the number one international destination our students want to travel to.”

URI signed an agreement with the University of Calabria in June allowing undergraduate students to spend a semester studying there followed by a six-month internship arranged through the Calabria internship office. La Luna spent two months at the University of Calabria this summer meeting with professors and students, assessing the accommodations, and planning the logistics of the partnership. The first URI students to participate in the new program will likely travel to Calabria in the 2014-2015 academic year.

“The University of Calabria has one of the oldest and most prestigious engineering programs in Italy, with especially strong civil and mechanical engineering programs and a new program in architectural engineering,” LaLuna said. “It is the ideal partner for URI in Italy.”

About 60 URI students currently major in Italian, making it one of the largest undergraduate Italian language programs in the country. Establishment of the Italian option in the International Engineering Program will likely boost enrollment in the Italian language program.

“Adding an Italian IEP will further raise the prestige of this signature academic program here at URI and leverages the extensive Italian heritage in the state of Rhode Island,” said Sigrid Berka, IEP director. “It will provide our students with even greater opportunities to prepare for global engineering careers in Italian-owned companies with global operations, such as Ferrari, Fiat/Chrysler, GTech and Barilla.”

“Italy offers a unique engineering and cultural experience for our students,” said Raymond M. Wright, dean of the URI College of Engineering. “Our students will learn in a nation that built the famed aqueducts, the Venetian canals, the Fiat sports car and more. I have no doubt the country will provide the perfect location for our students to gain global experience essential to their future careers and future employers.”

The International Engineering Program attracts top engineering students from throughout the United States and provides them with the cross-cultural experience that many global engineering companies seek in their employees. The program boasts close to a 100 percent job placement rate within six months after graduation.