Be a Partner Somewhere Else

Last month Shane and I attended President Miller’s dessert social, where we talked about Olin’s relationships with other engineering schools. He explained that more and more schools are coming to Olin asking for help. Some want to innovate how they teach, while others are new schools that hope to build upon the Olin model. The problem is, our teachers are stretched ridiculously thin as it is.So we thought: can students take this on?

I don’t know about you, but to the writers the idea of being a partner sounds fascinating. Though Olin remains dedicated to innovation, the flurry of activity and creativity that got Olin off the ground is no longer necessary. What if Oliners today could start from scratch, though, travelling to help build a school? What if Olin set up an attractive study away or LOA program at the schools approaching us – could we give a group of dedicated, creative students a semester or a year at another school, learning and helping this school innovate and grow?

There is such a wide range of schools visiting Olin that your LOA-partnership experience could be widely variable. One possibility is immersion – you could build relationships with faculty at one of our partner schools in India, Korea, or Brazil, dive into the classes you’d like to explore, and have IS time for feedback and ideas. If your interests lie in other areas, you could work on the side to help develop an honor code, interdisciplinary classes, or a more collaborative student culture.

Ananya Kejriwal, an Olin Senior, told us about a program she helped organize where Oliners work after graduation at a new India Institute of Technology in Ghandinagar. The school was particularly interested in Olin’s our “work-play continuum”. Here at Olin we have an intense passion for our hobbies and our academics, and we often mix the two together. In this program, a few graduates are going to the IIT as teachers and consultants.

Under the hood Olin experiences, like CORE or SAC, the Honor Board, Teaching and Learning, etc., would be of particular value – if a student has really delved deeply into Olin culture, they might have an easier time gaining insight about other schools. Some of the schools visiting us are doing amazing things – like the effort to establish a brand new engineering school in New Orleans – and you might even bring an idea or two back to Olin.

Olin already has a program to build relations with visiting schools, and it would be a great place to find universities interested in Olin students. The Initiative for Innovation in Engineering Education is a group of Olin staff, faculty, and students that helps organize faculty exchanges, workshops for visiting professors and administrators, student-led tours, and customized consultations to help these schools find their own path forward.

As schools around the world visit Olin, we have a chance to create relationships with officials and professors, paving the way for future contact and collaboration. If you want to find a way to travel to a school and partner with them, we encourage you to join I2E2 – several schools have approached students in I2E2 asking whether they would be interested in visiting.
Part of Olin’s mission is to become a leader in undergraduate engineering education, and Olin students can and should find ways to make their mark. By giving a semester or two of your time to another university, you could have significant positive impact.

What would you do with an opportunity like this? Come spend lunch with us on Thursday the 3rd under the clocks and we’ll try and come with cool ideas and ways to make them happen – or send us awesome ideas you have to eric.schneider at students.olin.edu and shane.skikne at students.olin.edu.