Middlesex Community College Engineering Students Collaborate Online with French University

January 8, 2021 (Middletown, Conn.) — During the Fall 2020 semester, students from Middlesex Community College (MxCC) and Université Paris-Saclay Polytech in France studied together virtually in an 11-week CT CLICKs course module called E3: Engineering Expertise Exchange.

The module was an integral part of the Introduction to Engineering course taught by MxCC engineering professor Lin Lin, PhD, and the English for Engineering course taught by Polytech English professor Liz Sagar.

Engineering student screenshot

MxCC student Jason Deciccio

Nancy Ruther, EdD, principal of Gazelle International, helped develop the partnerships between the schools as part of a four-year international initiative called CT CLICKs with the Connecticut Community Colleges. The initiative was led by the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) College of Technology (COT) and its National Science Foundation funded Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (RCNGM).

“We began planning this collaboration in Spring 2020. Nancy and her team taught us how to make it work, including setting course objectives and learning outcomes and designing the modules and rubrics,” said Dr. Lin.

The engineering students used a variety of online tools, including Blackboard Collaborate, WhatsApp, linkr Education, YouTube and Google Drive, to work together and complete their projects.

During the E3 module, the U.S. and French students interviewed each other to establish teams and discussed different engineering fields and topics. The French students also shared their apprenticeship experiences with their American classmates.

“It was very fun and interesting to learn about the education and careers of the French students. They were willing and eager to help and showed good initiative. I do think respect was cultivated throughout this process, and I hope to follow up with them later,” commented MxCC student Georganne Agles.

Each student team then chose a topic, conducted research and created a script for their presentations. The topics ranged from the fabrication of keys to high performance concrete to the computer vision of autonomous vehicles. Each team recorded a video or a narrated slideshow and shared their research with the other teams as they reflected on how they helped each other during the process.

French student Lucie Van Meenen

Lucie Van Meenen

The students fulfilled course objectives by learning how to communicate as engineers and apply the principles of engineering theory in written and oral presentations. They also successfully collaborated by working respectfully in small groups to develop time management and meet deadlines; displayed online citizenship with empathetic and meaningful interaction by building on the cultural and linguistic diversity of online communication; and demonstrated proficiency in several technological tools.

“I learned that with research and communication among group members, you can create a video project that shows the knowledge you gained and the hard work that was applied. I also learned that when engaging in blogs and discussions during this project, you are able to further your ideas and thoughts in regard to engineering and its concepts,” said student Nathan Gomes.

Even before the pandemic prompted more virtual learning options this past year, Gazelle International provided avenues for global online learning as a catalyst for innovative higher education collaborations across countries. Known as CLICK (Collaborative Learning for International Capabilities and Knowledge) modules.

Gazelle International, a Connecticut-based nonprofit, involved since the inception of the initiative, continues providing training, supporting the teacher learning community and helping the community colleges develop their overseas partnerships with a special focus on France,” explained Dr. Ruther. “Early on, we helped the initiative win two Transatlantic Mobility grants from the French Embassy in the U.S. They enabled the students and teachers involved in CT CLICKs to also travel to their CT CLICKs partners’ home campus and region in France.”

In 2018, MxCC students, along with other Connecticut community college students, traveled to France to learn about student life and studying at Campus CESI Ile de France in Paris and at IUT Lannion in Bretagne for a CT CLICKs program called Explorers Experience. In 2019, a group led by MxCC marketing professor Susan Lugli participated in a two-week summer entrepreneurship program with French students hosted by the University of Normandy. MxCC professors John Shafer and Angelo Glaviano also have conducted virtual CT CLICKs modules.

Since 1966, Middlesex Community College has provided high-quality, affordable, and accessible education to a diverse population, enhancing the strengths of individuals through degree, certificate, and lifelong learning programs that lead to university transfer, employment, and an enriched awareness of our shared responsibilities as global citizens. A part of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system, MxCC offers more than 65 degree or certificate programs at the main 35-acre campus in Middletown, MxCC@Platt in Meriden, and online.