International Collaboration to Promote Challenge-Based Learning

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In today’s interconnected world, universities worldwide are seeking innovative ways to expose students to challenges that prepare them with confidence for their future professions. The School of International Studies and the School of Engineering at UEES have undertaken successful international projects to promote this active learning methodology. This article describes the advantages that international collaboration offers in developing projects that foster challenge-based learning and contribute to the transformation of higher education.

In the case of the School of International Studies, International Negotiations students are exposed to business challenges from the beginning of their major. In the first semester, students collaborate with internationally and culturally diverse teams to solve challenges from companies around the world. Thanks to the collaboration with X-Culture, students have been able to propose solutions for companies like Mercedes-Benz, Louis Vuitton, Home Depot, among others. Additionally, the school has developed strategic partnerships and cooperation agreements with international peers and strategic business partners to implement the Global Business Challenge. The goal of this collaboration is for international teams to propose solutions to real-world company problems. In both cases, students address business challenges through virtual exchanges.

The School of Engineering opted to develop mobility programs with a specialized focus based on the students’ majors, both The School of Industrial Engineering and the School of Civil Engineering chose to implement short and intensive academic missions to the University of Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. During these academic missions, students had to propose solutions to specific problems. For instance, Industrial Engineering students  collaborated with students from the University ESEN in El Salvador. Students from both institutions worked on designing a logistical distribution network, formulated a mathematical model to ensure the optimal network design, and developed a simulation model to evaluate their proposal. Each group was evaluated by a panel of directors from the School of Engineering at the University of Los Andes.

Regarding the School of Civil Engineering, students participating in the academic mission competed in the challenge of sustainable cities, aiming to develop a project for a multi-modal sports center. The project proposal included a sports center shaped like a coffee bean to represent Colombia’s identity, which will function in a sustainable manner with clean energy and a circular hydro-sanitary system, generating jobs, and integrating the community.

International collaborations provide numerous benefits to students, higher education institutions, and companies. Students participating in these programs gain real-world experiences that complement the theoretical knowledge acquired in the classroom. Another benefit of creating challenge-based projects is exposure to future colleagues and clients, as networking opportunities arise that can help secure internships, jobs, and other professional prospects. Additionally, these experiences allow students to develop the ability to work efficiently across cultures, manage stress, and handle potential conflicts.

However, the benefits are not limited to students alone. Collaborating with local and international companies allows educational institutions to design curricula aligned with industry needs and demands. Higher education institutions also benefit from these connections, as the synergy between companies and universities ensures that students learn relevant skills. Finally, these initiatives can become a talent pool for future employers, as companies can identify potential candidates for upcoming jobs within the group of students participating in challenge-based projects.

In conclusion, various forms of international collaboration between higher education institutions and companies benefit students by providing them with relevant learning experiences and networking opportunities. It also helps educational institutions in designing relevant and updated curriculums. Furthermore, employers can benefit from these partnerships by identifying potential candidates for future employment roles.

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La Universidad Espíritu Santo (UEES), inicia sus actividades académicas en el año 1994 como institución privada, autofinanciada y sin fines de lucro. Su espíritu de compromiso y constante innovación están presentes en la calidad del servicio que ofrece a su comunidad.

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