The spring semester in Madrid is going very well. Our engineering student are taking challenging courses in Statistics, Computer Science, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering at the Leganes campus. Many of them have also completed their midterm tests and are conducting their lab work in several classes. So far, they are doing well academically.
This group joined a CIEE excursion to Granada and Almeria in southern Spain. We left on a Friday morning for our 3-day trip that included a stop at Alhambra and its medieval palaces built by the Muslim occupiers in Spain. Students had a guided three-hour tour by a local historian with a PhD in the engineering works of this amazing architectural heritage in Granada.
Students also had free time for a pizza lunch and then continued their journey to Almeria city, another place filled with hidden gems. Participants went to the beach for some free time about a few minutes walk from our hotel, but they also visited “El cable ingles, ”a construction of iron and wood that was built by an old mineral loading company "The Alquife Mines and Railway Company Limited." This was used to carry ore from mines in the center of Andalusia directly to the ships. Now it is a grand architectural design that decorates the way to the beach. On the second day, engineering students visited an agricultural company and met with a local farmer who explained new technical methods for organic farming in the dry desert of Almeria province. Once a poor region of Spain, students learned how the agricultural sector has grown by creating crops of fruits and vegetables with the help of engineering technology in green houses. At the end of our visit, students tried out some very tasty organic vegetables, such as sweet red peppers that are exported to Germany and the UK.
This semester CIEE has switched to a partial meal plan. All engineering students live in homestays in the city center that give them full access to the kitchen facilities. Hosts have breakfast food (cereals, fruits, yoghurts, juice, etc.) ready in the kitchen and that students are expected to cater to themselves when they wake up and want to eat. The host also prepares a warm meal each day for the student who they usually share it with in the evenings after class and catch up on the day's events. Students are responsible for their other meals (which is usually lunch at the university cafeteria or their own home made lunch). Many of the engineering students live in the city center in neighborhood areas such as La Latina, Malasaña, Embajadores and/or Lavapiés. The mid-semester housing evaluations completed by our current participants have been extremely positive and say they are happy with their homestay match. Some students commented on how they also enjoy sharing tea and some home-made apple pie with their host on a Sunday afternoon and discuss a variety of cultural topics.
U.S. College Advisors Visit the CIEE Engineering program
This spring semester we have also had U.S. schools send advisors and professors to visit and learn more about the engineering courses being offered at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. There is a lot of growing interest in the STEM course offering through Biomedical Engineering and the Aerospace programs. During the recent visits, advisors met with Spanish professors who teach courses in Biomedical Imaging, Medical Instrumentation and Devices, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine and Physiology. More women students are currently enrolled in biomedical engineering than men. As part of the campus tour, they also visit the university labes. In one instance, a visiting professor saw how Carlos III students were dissecting a sheep´s heart in a lab experiment. Typically, there are about 12-15 students in a lab session for biomedical engineering. All these classes are with Spanish students albeit all the course work is instructed in English at all times. Advisors were very pleased to know that Spanish students would be mixed with CIEE students in the regular engineering courses and they noted the large number of class options that American students can take in the engineering programs. One advisor also commented that the Universidad Carlos III facilities were very modern and up to par of American university standards.
Host Institution Collaboration with edX.
The Vice Chancellor for Infrastructure and Environment at the Universidad Carlos III has just announced the creation and delivery of MOOCs (Massive Open Courses and Online) in edX platform. The aim of this collaboration is to encourage the teaching and research resources of Engineering departments of Carlos III. Recent collaborations have started with faculty from MIT and Harvard and the idea is for this to be grown with other U.S. institutions. All this is an effort toward "internationalization" of the host institution.