French students study engineering, American culture at UALR

French engineering students are wrapping up their international studies this month through a partnership established by UALR’s Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences (CINS).

For the sixth year, UALR researchers and faculty have hosted students from the Centre d’Etudes Superiures Industrielles (CESI) School of Engineering, located in Angouleme, France.

The delegation of 15 students arrived in June to complete their four-month long training programs as a requirement of their education. The last of the interns depart for France at the end of this month.

Researchers from UALR’s Department of Construction Management and Civil and Construction Engineering, Department of Systems Engineering, Department of Applied Science, and Department of Chemistry collaborated with CINS faculty to mentor the students in a variety of ongoing research projects.

French nano Yann Guillo, 22, worked with CINS researchers in the Advanced Deposition lab on a titanium coating to improve its ability to repel water, oil, and other material. Guillo works in logistics for a manufacturer of specialized military equipment.

Though he hadn’t worked with the concept of superhydrophobicity before, Guillo was able to make a connection between the research he participated in, and his current line of work.

“Some of its uses would be especially appropriate for the military,” said Guillo.

While much of the students’ time is spent in labs, they also took the opportunity to travel since it is the first time many of them have been in the U.S. Guillo and others were able to travel to iconic places such as the Grand Canyon, and visited cities such as Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles.

Emilie Darrigues, 26, said globalization required that students gain a competitive edge in engineering, not only through internships, but also by being able to speak and read English. Immersing themselves in American culture was an excellent way to hone both of those skills, Darrigues noted.

“It’s a good experience,” said Virginie Dubo, 22, who added that Americans are generally more open and friendly compared to the French.

American food, on the other hand, “not so much,” said Dubo, with a laugh.

Three French students participating in the program ultimately enrolled in the master of science program at UALR and earned degrees in systems engineering. Two graduated May 2013, and the third student is on track to receive her degree in May 2014.

More than 80 interns have visited UALR since the partnership was first established five years ago, according to CINS staff.

To learn more about the center, go to the Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences.

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