September 05, 2006
Graduate students prepare to study in Taiwan
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Dawn M. Brady and Sarah M. Gilomen are preparing for an opportunity that opens another chapter in the strong relationship between Southern Illinois University Carbondale and one of Taiwan's leading universities.
The two first-year civil engineering graduate students leave Sept. 6 for nine months of study at National Cheng Kung University. They are the first SIUC engineering students to participate in a dual degree "One Plus One" master's program offered by both universities.
"It's the most amazing opportunity I've ever had," Brady said. "Academically, culturally, just to get immersed in the culture and see things I might not have a chance to see."
Gilomen spent one month in Taiwan this summer learning the language and culture. The program is "the opportunity of a lifetime," and she looks forward to returning.
"It was awesome," she said. "You can't even explain it because the people there are so welcoming and anxious to show you their culture and introduce you to new foods and everything that Taiwan has to offer."
SIUC and NCKU signed the dual degree program agreement in May. It is the latest in a line of collaborative efforts between the sister universities dating back to 1987.
Students receive master's degrees from both universities. That gives Brady and Gilomen more options formulating their respective research topics.
"Being that we can do our research at both universities, it really makes our thesis topic unlimited," Gilomen said.
Brady's work includes designing a swale for highway runoff and sediment trapping. She has an opportunity to learn design criteria in Taiwan where rainfall patterns are different, she said. Brady will also be able to attend a conference on soil and water management in Bangladesh – a scenario she admits is otherwise unlikely.
Brady is the daughter of Patrick and Colleen Brady of Rockford. She earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from SIUC in December, and has a bachelor's degree in geology and anthropology from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis. She is specializing in water resources, and working on peak flow reduction and sediment control and optimization.
Gilomen is the daughter of Mike and Jean Gilomen of Highland (518 Broadway). She is studying microbiology and environmental remediation processes. She earned her bachelor's degree in civil engineering from SIUC in December.
The program "builds in research collaborations between faculty here and in Taiwan, and for our faculty this could open opportunities to address and gain experience with significant emerging problems," said John A. Koropchak, SIUC vice chancellor for research and graduate dean.
For example, Gilomen will conduct research on environmental remediation. Environmental pollution is a growing problem in Taiwan and China "and this experience could put Sarah, and our faculty, on the leading edge of this field," he said.
"NCKU is one of the two flagship universities in Taiwan into which the government is investing huge additional resources — $50 million per year, to raise them among the top research universities in the world," Koropchak said.
"Both Sarah and Dawn will be going into an academic environment that is already very good but will get even better while they are there," he said. "It should be a tremendously positive experience for them."
The effort is another element of an important globalization process, said Max Yen, director of SIUC's Materials Technology Center. It allows SIUC and NCKU students to see how adaptable they can be "to a different part of the world in which they have technical knowledge and training."
The students become ambassadors for their respective institutions, he said.
"These two young ladies are taking advantage of a very exciting opportunity which has been generated by the College of Engineering and Dr. Max Yen," Dean William P. Osborne said. "In today's global economy, it is very important for engineers to understand the impact of their work on all the cultures it is applied in, including those overseas."
An NCKU student may come to SIUC's engineering program as early as next year, Yen said.
Lizette R. Chevalier, who chairs Civil and Environmental Engineering, said Brady and Gilomen are "both exceptional students."
"What we are seeing is they are entering into a career that is a global career that will open doors for them," she said. "They have what it takes to grab the world by the tail and make something of it."
The opportunities for research between the two universities is exciting, Chevalier said.
"Any type of collaboration, especially international collaborations, are rich opportunities for everyone," she said.
Taiwan is picking up Brady and Gilomen's tuition, lodging and monthly stipends. Both students received scholarships from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Chicago, Gilomen said.
Leading in research, scholarly and creative activities is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.