Faculty support partnership development efforts in Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil

April 12, 2019

By Kate O’Neill 

Ricardo Sanfelice, professor of electrical and computer engineering

Several faculty from the Jack Baskin School of Engineering (BSOE) recently collaborated with the Division of Global Engagement on partnership development efforts with universities and organizations in South America, as part of the division’s broader effort to support internationalization of teaching, learning, and research on campus.

Ricardo Sanfelice, professor of electrical and computer engineering, Abel Rodriguez, professor of statistics and associate dean for graduate affairs, and Katia Obraczka, professor of computer science and engineering, all had planned travel to Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil respectively, to attend professional conferences or connect with research collaborators. Leveraging their presence on the ground, faculty coordinated with Global Engagement to arrange a variety of meetings with faculty and administrators at universities and funding organizations in these countries, to further explore potentials for partnership in student and faculty exchange.

Abel Rodriguez, professor of statistics and associate dean for graduate affairs

Faculty involved in these efforts are supportive of increasing the university’s international partnerships and bringing more global opportunities to the campus.“Students in Engineering have few opportunities to study abroad because their curriculum is tightly packed. Partnering with strong institutions abroad that can offer courses that ensure that students can make adequate progress in their degree is a way to increase participation. Additionally, given UC Santa Cruz’s status as a Hispanic Serving Institution, building partnerships with institutions in Latin American that can provide both high-quality technical training and cultural immersion is important for our mission,” said Rodriguez.

In October, while attending an international conference in Buenos Aires, Professor Sanfelice visited the Instituto Tecnológico de Buenos Aires (ITBA), a private university focused on the fields of engineering, technology, and management. Discussions with Santiago Vallés, director of computer engineering and other faculty at ITBA focused on a 4+1+1 program. Director Vallés visited UC Santa Cruz to initiate this conversation in May 2018.

Katia Obrazcka, professor of computer science and engineering

While attending a conference in Cali, Colombia in November, Professor Rodriguez spent two additional days in Bogota to attend meetings organized by Global Engagement. Professor Rodriguez connected with engineering faculty at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNAL) and also at the Universidad de Los Andes to explore research and exchange opportunities. Rodriguez also met with the Executive Director of Fulbright Colombia and the Director of the Colombian agency COLFUTURO, which provides low-interest loans to students from Colombia to pursue studies abroad. The goal of both meetings was to increase Colombian student awareness through the agencies of degrees offered at UC Santa Cruz. As a result of Rodriguez’s visit, the Division of Global Engagement and Graduate Division have been able to work with Fulbright Colombia and COLFUTURO to provide a webinar for Colombian students regarding graduate studies at UCSC to better promote what UC Santa Cruz has to offer which will be hosted on their websites after the webinar is conducted.

During March while in Brazil visiting research collaborators, Professor Obraczka visited two universities in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to explore the possibility for reciprocal undergraduate and graduate student mobility with UC Santa Cruz. Universities included Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), a well-regarded private university in Brazil with a long history of student exchange, and Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), a publicly funded university with a growing international student presence.

Obraczka highlighted the value of developing agreements with institutions abroad, “Reaching out to potential international partners is very important from a research and educational perspective for our students.”

To promote international cooperation in teaching and research Global Engagement supports the development of formal partnership agreements between UC Santa Cruz and institutions abroad. Faculty with interest in learning more about building partnerships and leveraging their existing travel plans abroad are welcomed and encouraged to reach out to Global Engagement for guidance and assistance with arranging meetings and identifying new partnership opportunities. Additional information is available on global.ucsc.edu/partnerships.

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