Victor Mucino of West Virginia University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering has led teams of students to Queretaro, Mexico to meet and partner with Mexican students since the 1990s.
The Department’s Industrial Outreach Program pairs WVU students with Mexican students to work on solving practical problems often seen in industry. This semester, for the first time, Mexican students came to WVU.
“The reciprocal visits will provide an opportunity for WVU students to become acquainted with Mexican team members who will join them in the industrial projects during the subsequent summer,” said Mucino professor and associate chair for education in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. “The network of industries, institutions and research centers in Queretaro, in addition to the rich cultural opportunities of the city and state, provide WVU students a unique opportunity to enhance the competitiveness of their education and their job market potential.”
Mucino has been working on putting the pieces of this portion of the agreement in place for quite some time. The initial WVU visit to Queretaro was in 1997.
“We have been working on this for a long time, piece by piece, and finally all the pieces fell into place,” he said. “We developed a partnership with the Council of Science and Technology in Queretaro, which was instrumental in organizing the selection criteria and providing additional funding to help some of the students with travel costs.”
The students were chosen based on highly competitive selection criteria, which included their overall GPA, their engineering GPA and both their math and English-language skills.
Susana Vega, a junior electrical engineering student, is enjoying her time at WVU but is learning to overcome small obstacles that she wouldn’t have to face back in Mexico.
“Back home, I’m the only girl in my major, so this is a new experience for me,” Vega said. “In Mexico, I live with my parents and I have to ask permission to go out and here I don’t. I’m experiencing a lot of freedom here but at the same time, now I have more responsibility, such as meals and laundry, which my mother would normally do for me.”
All of the students remarked on the state’s beauty and how excited they were to see snow, but while it was exciting to see snow for the first time, they weren’t prepared for the cold. While all of the students are proficient in English, the American culture is still vastly different from their Mexican culture.
Javier Rangel, a junior aerospace engineering student from the University of Queretaro, says the classes here are similar to what he would be taking back in Mexico, but the level of required math is much higher here and the work load is heavier. “My dream job is to work with aerospace research because this is a growing industry in my city.”
Representatives from the three institutions recently came to WVU to get a report from the students and to explore further initiatives in research and education that can be beneficial to the University and Queretaro.
“WVU is highly respected in Mexico and having these students return with this experience will make them ambassadors for the University when they become professionals,” Mucino said. “Engineering is a global profession and this is one area where there literally and figuratively aren’t any borders.”
Other students currently studying at WVU as part of the exchange include Carlos A. Perez, Roberto Ivan Gutierrez-Echeverria, Rodrigo Estrella-Trevino, Severiano Jaramillo Quintanar and Alonso Francisco Rayas Soria.
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CONTACT: Mary C. Dillon, Statler College