This year marks the 21st anniversary of the Industrial Outreach Program in México (IOPM). For 2 months this summer, students from México and the USA will work together in 12 different companies in Santiago de Querétaro, México.
I asked the students from the US why they decided to study abroad in México for the summer. For some, it was the opportunity to earn real-world engineering experience. Others simply wanted to try living somewhere new.
But regardless of why they came, there was excitement in the air as they waited to find out which Mexican company they would be interning for.
Many of the American students might have started applying for the program a few months beforehand. However, the process for Mexican students began virtually a year prior.
During the fall semester, Mexican students from the region of Querétaro competed in an advanced math class for a coveted full-ride scholarship to study at West Virginia University. After their semester abroad, they returned back to Querétaro to work with American students for the summer. Armed with English and competitive work experience, many of the Mexican students will be hired full-time by their companies after their summer internships.
During their internships, the students will work on a team of 3-4 people. They will be sorted into 12 different companies in the city of Querétaro to work on meaningful engineering projects.
These projects range from aerospace design to software engineering. Most importantly, students will have the opportunity to work professionally with people from different cultural backgrounds, earning global competence.
I love taking pictures when the Mexican and American students first meet to form their teams for the summer. When the entire group of students arrives to the program, they tend to sit with students from their universities only.
It is nerve-wracking, especially for the American students. They are in an unfamiliar environment, with new customs and a different language. But even only a few hours into the program, the students from different countries start to become friends.
By the end of the program in two months, you will see a changed group of students. They will be working 40 hours per week together, traveling together on the weekends, and experiencing Mexican culture together.
The Mexican students will take the American students to try street tacos (Gusanos is THE best). They will teach them soccer and Latin dances like cumbia and bachata. The students may have started the program as acquaintances, but they will end it as family.
Even after two years, I still keep in contact regularly with my friends who I met in México. Being back in México this week felt like coming home. These students will soon find that the Mexican people are the most wonderful people in the world!
Check out our good looking group of Mexican and American students from their first day:
And here are the new assistants of the program for this summer, Alejandro (left) and Stephen (right). Both will earn their masters degrees from West Virginia University. The program assistants work for the program on-site in Querétaro.
And without further ado, here are some of the new student teams. Each team consists of students from a local Mexican universities and West Virginia University. They will each be working at different companies in Querétaro for the summer.
What do you think of this opportunity for students from all different backgrounds? Leave a reply to let me know.
Until next time-Saludos!