Cal State Fullerton is one of this year’s nine recipients of the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grants, announced Dec. 14 by the White House, U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.
“We have to invest in the greatest natural resource we all have – in our people … this investment in our young minds is critically important,” said Vice President Joe Biden during the awards presentation ceremony in Washington, D.C. “It rests on exposure… exposure to culture, language and politics of other countries. That’s how we’re going to build the closest ties that will cement the economic growth and stability of this hemisphere.”
The goal of President Obama’s education initiative is to increase the number of U.S. students studying in the Western Hemisphere to 100,000 and the number of Western Hemisphere students studying in the United States to 100,000 by 2020.
The 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund is a public-private collaboration of the White House, U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, and NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Grants of $25,000 are awarded to support American/foreign university partnerships.
Cal State Fullerton received an innovation fund grant in partnership with Universidade Estadual Paulista, Campus de Sorocaba, Sorocaba, Brazil.
“This funding will support multiple university initiatives,” said Kari Knutson-Miller, interim associate vice president for international programs and global engagement and project director. “It expands access to study abroad in the College of Engineering and Computer Science as aligned with time to degree and major requirements.
“It links high-impact practices, including study abroad, undergraduate research and service learning. Additionally, it is grounded in institutional relationships. The collaboration between Cal State Fullerton and UNESP will contribute to long-term sustainability of grant-supported activities. UNESP students will have the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research activities at CSUF and Fullerton students will participate in a Brazil-based research conference together with UNESP students.”
“I am glad to know that our continuous effort to involve international students in our research activities at Cal State Fullerton has been recognized with this award,” said Binod Tiwari, professor of civil and environmental engineering. “This grant will provide us more opportunities to encourage CSUF engineering faculty members to involve international students in their research projects and enhance faculty-student engagement on research. I am very excited for this new opportunity to co-lead this rewarding effort.”
“CSUF’s exchange program for engineering students is designed to provide high impact learning opportunities so students can improve their skills and succeed as professionals in an increasingly diverse and international workplace,” said Joao Barros, assistant professor of kinesiology who worked on the grant application with Knutson-Miller. “The grant funding will further support U.S./Brazil exchanges between Cal State Fullerton and UNESP Sorocaba by establishing a new partnership, creating study abroad opportunities for students, increasing staff experience and developing a culture of international, Brazil-based exchange.”
Project collaborators include Knutson-Miller; Barros; Tiwari; Raman Unnikirshnan, dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science; and Christine Pircher-Barnes, student services coordinator for the American Language Program. UNESP collaborators include José Celso Freire, Jr., Carlos Vergani, Patrícia Gasparini Spadaro and Eduardo Godoy.