UM Engineering and Nation of Colombia Team Collaborate

January 2011 By

OXFORD, Miss. - The University of Mississippi School of Engineering and the National University of Colombia are working together to help faculty at the latter complete their much-needed doctoral programs.

The Universidad Nacional de Colombia, or UNdC, operates engineering schools at its Medellin, Manizales and Bogota campuses in Colombia. The university recently signed an agreement with the Southern Universities Engineering Consortium to enable seasoned UNdC faculty to earn terminal degrees in engineering at either Ole Miss or the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The UM School of Engineering is a founding member of the Southern Universities Engineering Consortium.

Funding for the collaboration is being provided by UNdC and Colciencias, the Colombian equivalent of the National Science Foundation. The Ole Miss School of Engineering and Office of International Programs - in close cooperation with their counterparts at UNdC - are working to identify suitable candidates for enrollment this fall and beyond.

"Developing collaboration programs with top institutions of higher education abroad is at the heart of the university's, as well as the School of Engineering's, internationalization agenda," said Alex Cheng, UM engineering dean. "This particular collaboration will bring highly-qualified, externally-funded students from Colombia to our doctoral engineering programs."

Under the terms of the partnership, Colombian faculty will retain their positions at home while studying in the United States. Colciencias will assist the Southern Universities Engineering Consortium in promoting the opportunities the collaboration with UNdC stands to generate.

"The presence and inclusion of international students on campus stimulates in American students an appreciation and knowledge of people around the world and of issues other countries face," said Greet Provoost, director of UM's Office of International Programs. "Moreover, it provides them the opportunity to actively engage in a global market of ideas and helps to assure that all students - foreign or domestic - are well prepared to contribute meaningfully locally and globally."

Due to the limited number of doctoral training programs as well as increased higher education participation rates on account of the nation's rising affluence and middle class, Colombia has an acute shortage of people with terminal degrees. To address this issue, Colombia has launched a national capacity-building campaign in science, technology and engineering fields.

"Selected lecturers, as well as select students identified to become professors in the future, are given the opportunity to complete their Ph.D. studies in Colombia or abroad with support of funding agencies and their respective institutions," Cheng said.

UNdC and Colciencias are also interested in deepening the collaboration with the Southern Universities Engineering Consortium to include study and research opportunities in engineering for its students and faculty and to expand the collaboration also to other academic/research disciplines.

"International collaboration programs create opportunities for all students as they prepare for personal and professional success in a globalized world," Provoost said.

For more information about UM's School of Engineering, go to For more information about the Office of International Programs, visit