This panel will share the unheard challenges that international students have faced in the USA while in engineering graduate programs. Many engineering students and faculty come from Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, and African countries where their people struggle with life on a daily basis, with challenges varying from natural disasters to brutality of their governments. Just recently, Turkey and Syria were struck by a deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake, with more than 7,900 people killed and tens of thousands injured. In the recent past, and more personally to the panelists, Pakistan was hit by a deadly flood that killed many and left countless people homeless. A large protest, led by women, in Iran began as a result of police brutality in September 2022. As Iranians continue to fight for their basic rights, the regime has arrested and killed thousands of people.
As we struggle with these recent incidents, we realize that the engineering education community, which is home to many international students and faculty, often neglects to talk about them, which leaves students (and faculty) feeling unseen and unsupported. As graduates of engineering education programs who hold positions in and beyond academia, we understand how frustrating and challenging it is to feel unseen and invisible by advisors, mentors, peers, and university admins, especially at the time that one's beloved country and people are struggling. Unfortunately, these incidents happen very frequently in many developing countries, which puts students’ health and mental health in jeopardy. Not only do they have to adjust to a new country and culture, they have to constantly worry about the lives of their loved ones in their home country.
This creates the need to advocate for international students in engineering and be their voices, by sharing first-hand stories of challenges and support. This session will be a place to share previously untold stories that need to be heard.
1) Introduction: Panelists share their stories about where they are, especially in reference to being immigrants and internationals.
2) Collaborative, interactive discussion with open-ended guided questions and sharing challenges through stories:
a) What are the “unseen and unheard” challenges you have faced? How have you been supported — or not?
b) What were some of the strategies that you used to overcome those challenges?
c) Why or why not did you think that your voices were heard or not heard?
3) Community Support — examples of the questions:
a) What can an advisor do to support those unseen challenges that their international graduate students face?
b) What advice do you have for Ph.D. advisors and university administrators to better support the international graduate students?
c) What can we do as a community to support each other?
4) Q &A with panelists
For those interested in: Advocacy and Policy and Broadening Participation in Engineering and Engineering Technology
Director of Quadrivium Engineering and Design, The Hill School
Assistant Professor of Practice, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, The Ohio State University
Assistant Professor, Department of Multidisciplinary Engineering, College Station, TX, USA
Data Scientist, Drexel University
Graduate Student, Purdue University