Representatives from Villanova University and the Universidad de Santiago de Chile (USACH) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on March 27 at the Connelly Center to create an intercontinental collaboration between engineering faculty and students.
The focus of the Villanova-USACH Future Faculty Partnership is a program by which Villanova will work with USACH to train the latter’s next generation of engineering professors. At the MOU signing, Dr. Alfonso Ortega, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research and the James R. Birle Professor of Energy Technology for Villanova’s College of Engineering, noted that “40% of the engineering faculty at USACH will retire within 10 years. We anticipate that Villanova will become a preferred university for top USACH students who want to earn their PhDs.”
To facilitate the transition and increase the success of potential students, Villanova will develop a program with USACH to offer English-language training. Prior to the signing, staff from Villanova’s International Student Services Office met with USACH administrators to discuss strategies. “If we can help meet students’ language needs, the process of adjusting to a new country and a new educational system will go more smoothly,” said Debra Hoover, Villanova’s ESL Coordinator.
The partnership resulted largely from the efforts of Dr. Ortega and Dr. Amador Guzmán Cuevas, Director of Research and Graduate Studies at USACH. Dr. John Johannes, Vice President of Academic Affairs, praised the collaboration as “a logical extension of what Villanova has been doing at the undergraduate level with schools around the world. It offers tremendous scientific, technical, and cultural opportunities.” Dr. Ramón Blasco Sanchéz, USACH’s Dean of Engineering, echoed this enthusiasm: “This is the beginning of a strong relationship.” Dr. Patricio Navarro Donoso, Vice-Dean for Research and Development, also attended the signing.
The benefits of the partnership are already being reaped. Two USACH students are pursuing doctoral degrees in the College of Engineering, and a USACH faculty with expertise in autonomous systems is working with researchers in the Center for Nonlinear Dynamics and Control. In addition, the MOU may lead to the creation of a joint engineering center of excellence and a new study-abroad destination for undergraduates.