BS/BA, internships & study abroad
Chinese IEP students take a Chinese course each semester alongside their chosen engineering curriculum. Most students begin their studies at the initial beginner course, CHN 101. Students in the program work toward a BS degree in any engineering discipline and a BA in Chinese. Chinese IEP students complete Chinese language study at both URI and Zhejinag University and enroll in additional appropriate Asian Studies courses in departments such as history and philosophy.
As early as the summer following freshman year students have the opportunity to travel to China for an intensive, four-week Mandarin language and culture program as part of the URI Chinese Summer School. Visits to several manufacturing and research institutes in Hangzhou are also included.
In the fourth year of the program students spend eleven to twelve months abroad. During the first semester they study full-time at our exchange partner university, Zheijiang University (ZJU) in Hangzhou, China, where they take coursework towards their major or minors, as well as towards URI general education requirements.
Following the semester of study at ZJU students are placed in six-month, full-time engineering internships in China. Interns receive a cost-of-living stipend and housing assistance, and are under the supervision of a person or team in one of the many IEP corporate partner companies. Each intern regularly writes internship reports of his or her experience in Chinese, which are shared with the students and faculty of the IEP back in Rhode Island, and for which they earn credits toward the Chinese major.
Students return to complete their fifth and final year back on the Kingston campus, where they have the opportunity to participate in special recruitment visits from corporate partners. IEP students are highly sought after for their combination of strong engineering skills and extensive cross-cultural experiences.
The Chinese IEP was given a considerable boost by the Chinese government, whose National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language supported a full-time faculty member in Chinese for three years (2006-2009). This professor, Dr. Wen Xiong, has since been hired as a full-time tenure-track faculty member at URI. In 2007 URI was also selected as a site for a Chinese-funded Confucius Institute, which is a center for Chinese language and culture at URI and in the greater Rhode Island community. Over 30 engineering students are now studying Chinese at URI and preparing for both further language work and professional internships in China.
In August of 2008 a major outgrowth of the Chinese IEP was born. Supported by The Language Flagship, an initiative of the National Security Education Program, the URI Chinese Language Flagship Partner Program is an intensive undergraduate program for highly motivated students preparing for global careers. Flagship Scholars earn a Bachelor’s degree in a chosen academic discipline (engineering, business, political science, textiles, etc.) while working to achieve superior language proficiency in Mandarin Chinese.
Dr. Sigrid Berka
Director, Chinese IEP
Assistant Director, Chinese Language Flagship