This May, the Abdullah Gül University organized a delegation trip to the United States. AGU’s Rector, Prof. Dr. İhsan Sabuncuoğlu, was accompanied by his Advisor on International Affairs, Assist. Prof. Dr. E. Burak Arıkan, to discover the campuses, methodologies and philosophies of three outstanding American institutions:
- Missouri University of Science and Technology
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute
- Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
This week-long trip began with a two-day visit of the Rolla (MO)-based campus of the Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T), whose Vice-Rector had been a classmate of Prof. Dr. Sabuncuoğlu during their Doctorate studies at Wichita State University.
During their visit of Missouri S&T, the AGU delegation had the opportunity to discover the institution’s high quality infrastructure and faculty, who offered them a very warm and positive welcome. While there, the AGU delegation visited the University’s Student Project Center and met with the Online Education team, as well as the President, Vice-Presidents and professors.
One particular aspect of Missouri S&T is their highly developed Online Course system; probably one of the best in America. Indeed, the institution uses external studios managed by producers to render high quality broadcasts of their classes. The method is also used to relay classes taught to Missouri S&T students by professors in partner institutions from around the world .
As a result of this visit, AGU and Missouri S&T have already signed a general Memorandum of Understanding and are working on specific collaboration projects, including the exchange of online courses.
In Spring 2018, AGU Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hakan Usta, of the Department of Materials Science and Nanotechnology, will be giving an online course to Missouri S&T students, while AGU students will also be benefiting from an online course taught by Missouri Prof. Dr. Fatih Doğan.
Negotiations for a 2+2 program at the Undergraduate level are currently on the way. In future, the two institutions will also explore the option of a 1+1 Master program agreement.
AGU Rector Prof. Dr. Sabuncuoğlu and his Advisor on International Affairs, Dr. Arıkan, then travelled from Rolla to the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), located about one hour inland from Boston (MA). The AGU delegation was visiting WPI within the frame of AGU’s Ministry-sponsored project to develop Next Generation Universities in Turkey.
Worcester Polytechnic especially caught the attention of AGU faculty because of its strong focus on Project-Based Learning, which fits well with the Abdullah Gül University’s own project- and activity-based curricula.
Currently, WPI has around 70 partners worldwide to implement their Project-Based Learning approach and can be counted among the best institutions in the USA for this kind of methodology.
Although Project-Based Learning is not compulsory for WPI students, the institution as a whole has truly integrated the project-oriented mentality; an approach that is also very important to AGU. In fact, our University’s members observed that both institutions were similar on many aspects, including their program structures, Global Challenges/”Great Problems”-focused curricula, as well as the importance of Humanities & Arts in both universities.
The AGU delegation was also impressed by WPI’s “Interactive Qualifying Project” and their “Project-Based Learning” training program for universities. While the first is a summer program including 2 faculty members and 24 students, who are sent to work in six teams of four in a local NGO project, the second is a yearly 3-4 day training organized by WPI for university staff of other institutions (five participants per university), to train them on the implementation of Project-Based Learning in their home institutions.
In fact, following their visit to Worcester, the Abdullah Gül University will be sending five of their Faculty members to WPI in order to participate in the institution’s Project-Based training this summer, along with 25 other higher education institutions from around the world.
The last stage of our AGU members’ stay on the East Coast was the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham (MA).
The institution, founded in 1997, specializes in Undergraduate programs in Electrical & Electronics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Engineering (flexible curriculum design) and accepts 80 students per year, who can take advantage of the open campus policy existing between Olin, Wellesley College and Babson College, allowing students to take courses in any of these institutions.
While there, Assist. Prof. Dr. E. Burak Arıkan had the opportunity to attend Olin’s Evaluation Week, where student exhibit their final projects, SCOPE presentations and ADE presentations.
For their SCOPE projects, Olin students are asked to work on real-life industry problems (from one of the College’s external corporate partners) within interdisciplinary student teams.
ADE, Affordable Design Entrepreneurship, are projects run together with Wellesley and Babson students, where technology and business-oriented, holistic projects are developed to “Learn to have Impact, by Trying to have Impact”.
Visiting Olin College was the opportunity to exchange ideas about AGU’s current and future projects and how Olin College organizes its student and community oriented, “learning by doing” style education; a great source of inspiration for AGU!
The visit to Olin ended with an unusual presentation: a concert given by Olin’s Conductorless Orchestra (OCO), which illustrated Olin students’ ability to listen to each other and cooperate without the need for a designated leader.
AGU’s visits to Missouri S&T, Worcester Polytechnic and Olin College were the opportunity for our University’s members to see institutions that have successfully implemented the elements that are at the core of the Abdullah Gül University’s unique project: creating a new generation of universities, that are community-oriented and student-focused; relying on project-based, learning-by-doing education to solve the global challenges of tomorrow.
The positive experience of our University members will be prolonged with the implementation of planned collaboration projects, including the exchange of Online Courses between AGU and Missouri S&T next Spring and our University’s inclusion in the upcoming WPI Project-Based Learning training program!