URI engineering students intern in Spain
Industry giant Praxair pays their way
KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 14, 2002 -- University of Rhode Island engineering students Dara Swanson and Hayden Fleming, both of North Kingstown, recently left for Spain to complete six-month internships for Praxair, a global Fortune 500 company.
The Praxair Foundation has agreed to fund up to four URI engineering internships per year at Praxair subsidiaries in Spain and Latin America. The monies cover the students' transportation, room, board, and living costs, as well as related administrative expenses.
Swanson and Fleming are members of URIs International Engineering Program, a five-year program that simultaneously leads students to dual degrees in engineering and German, French, or Spanish. During their fourth year of study, IEP students intern with large, professional engineering firms in Europe or Latin America. Many opt to do a study abroad semester with a partner university, thereby gaining strong language skills as well as a knowledge of the culture in both an academic and industrial setting. Both Swanson and Fleming, members of the Spanish IEP, were enrolled at the University of Zaragoza in Spain during the fall 2001 semester.
The IEP Program was launched at URI in 1988, and quickly became a national model. Initially, the program offered dual degrees in engineering and German. Several years later the program expanded to include French. The Spanish IEP which currently has 40 students enrolled, was added four years ago.
The success of the Spanish IEP comes as no surprise to its director. "Spanish is the fastest-growing language in the United States, " said Robert Manteiga, professor of Hispanic studies and comparative literature. "Students who are fluent in Spanish and familiar with how engineering is practiced in Spanish-speaking countries have a great advantage when seeking job opportunities in todays competitive market."
Swanson and Hayden are interning at different plant locations. Swanson is at the Praxair facility in Gijon, while Hayden is interning in San Sebastian.
"We are so pleased to have them," said Robert Foster, Praxairs Human Resources Director for Europe. "Not only are Dara and Hayden great ambassadors for URI, they are great ambassadors for the United States. Their presence in our plants brings a global awareness to our employees."
Foster noted speaking the Spanish language is vitally important. "It just opens doors," he said. "There are significant barriers if you dont understand the nuances in the language. Equally important is a familiarity with the culture."
In addition to Praxair, the Spanish IEP has established partnerships with a number of other major companies in Spain and Latin America.
For Information: Jan Wenzel, 401-874-2116