Virginia Tech is spreading its branches worldwide, with two collaborative doctoral programs that are the first of their kind on campus.
The department of engineering science and mechanics has recently established a collaborative program with the Politencnico di Milano in Milan, Italy, and is in the process of finalizing an agreement with Jadavpur University in Kolkata, India.
Ishwar Puri, professor and department head of ESM, hopes to implement a global strategy with both collaborative programs.
"The vision is that we perceive ESM as a center of scholarly activity in the area of engineering mechanics," Puri said.
The collaborative programs offer participating students a Virginia Tech doctoral degree in engineering mechanics. Aspects of this program include studies into nanotechnology, material science, fluid mechanics and other related research being conducted at Tech and partner universities.
Muhammad Hajj, ESM professor and director of graduate studies, said ESM can also form partnerships outside of engineering and into math and sciences.
The program in Italy is more established, since having started in fall of 2007.
Professors at the participating universities recognize students who are high achievers and recommend them for participating in the collaboration.
Like other international students, students participating in the program have to fully apply to Tech, including taking the GRE and the TOEFL, an English aptitude test.
Currently, students participating in this program can do most of their coursework and training in Milan, and then come to Tech where they undergo many of the qualifying assessments toward the completion of a doctoral degree. This entails qualifying examinations, preliminary examinations, the thesis proposal and finally, the thesis defense.
Puri said not all universities have the same degree of assessment for doctoral students, so part of the benefit for universities to engage in the collaborative effort is to learn about these assessments.
Students would also have the option of submitting original thesis work to their home universities and undergoing the assessment process there for another doctoral degree.
One of the major aspects of the collaborations is to promote diversity of thought and of the student population by providing an international experience.
Currently, there are three students from Italy participating in the collaborative doctoral program.
The first student to participate in the collaboration with Jadavpur University has been identified, and is set to be a student this fall.
The collaborative program will also be open to domestic students.