The University of Rhode Island was one of just four schools chosen to participate in the first phase of President Obama’s “100,000 Strong in the Americas” initiative, designed to enhance ties with Central and South American countries by increasing the number of U.S. students studying in Latin America, and the number of Latin Americans studying in the United States, to 100,000.
In January, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised a winning proposal from URI’s Spanish International Engineering Program and its director Megan Mercedes Echevarria, as well as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Winifred Brownell. A $50,000 grant will help launch URI’s Spanish International Engineering Program’s emerging presence in Chile.
The program has already sent URI students to Spain and Mexico for internships, research and study, and brought students from those countries to URI. Since 1998, enrollment has doubled to 100 students. “We have been offering precisely the kind of the initiatives that the 100,000 Strong program prioritizes,” Echevarria said. “Internships, exchange programs and research opportunities that take students far away from our campus and give them the opportunity to work as part of an international and interdisciplinary team have been part of the International Engineering Program for more than 20 years.”
The “100,000 Strong” grant will help URI engineering students engage further with Chile through internships, a summer service-learning research project in Valparaíso, study at URI’s partner school, Pontificia Universidad Católica deValparáiso, and a new course to be taught at URI in Spanish by Echevarria, focusing on innovations in sustainability in South America.