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No Borders

By Savanna Hoover '18

Spirit Student Worker
Megan Eckelbarger '18 experiences a cultural immersion in Egypt during a global study experience.

When the sands of Qatar called, Megan Eckelbarger ’18 answered.

An industrial and systems engineering major, she studied at Texas A&M University’s sister campus in Doha, Qatar, the summer after her freshman year. Two years later, during the winter break of her junior year, she traveled to Alexandria, Egypt, for a second global study experience.

“While in Qatar, I experienced the holy month of Ramadan,” said Eckelbarger, an Arlington, Texas, native. “It was completely new to me. During the day,  the campus was silent and lacked the normal hustle and bustle of prior weeks. However, the country came to life at night. I loved going to the souq (market) and experiencing sundown with local Qataris! I gained a more holistic view of the world.”

In Egypt, Eckelbarger took a production systems engineering course. The unit on forecasting proved pivotal during her internship the following summer at PepsiCo’s Information Technology headquarters as a global tech intern. “Taking something I learned across the globe, applying it to a project during my internship, and using the skills to forecast data for areas of the world including Europe and Asia solidifies how unified the globe is,” she said. “Knowledge is universal.”

Eckelbarger is just the type of student the Texas A&M College of Engineering hopes to curate through its Global Access Program.

“Global experiences are critically important for our students,” said M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering. “Through this program, we have set an ambitious goal of providing 2,000 engineering students with global experiences each year, more than doubling our current level of participation.”

Map showing concentration of where engineering majors currently study abroad.

Global study is also an important component of ENGR[X], an additional, noncredit component of the Texas A&M engineering curriculum launched this fall. Each undergraduate student is required to participate in one “X” factor, which includes high-impact transformational learning experiences like global study as well as entrepreneurship, leadership and selfless service activities. These experiences add to the quality and innovation of each student’s engineering education.

Eckelbarger’s experiences were made possible in part through the Lynda and A. Dwain Mayfield ’59 Study Abroad Scholarship established through the Texas A&M Foundation. By funding an endowed global study scholarship for engineering students, you can help the college reach its goals and provide Aggies with transformational learning experiences. A $25,000 endowed gift helps defray student travel costs and will provide an international experience to a new Aggie engineer every year.

“Every Aggie should have the opportunity to study abroad during college,” said Eckelbarger, who hopes to work as an operational engineer. “My trips helped me see the world as more connected. I better understand the cohesiveness between people and countries.”