Globe AmbassadorsBerkeley students pose for a picture after lunch with student organizations at the University of the Philippines, Diliman. (Photo courtesy of Olivia Kuo, Berkeley Engineering)

Berkeley students get a global perspective of technology innovation

July 9, 2019 by Linda Vu

Globe Singapore A researcher at Phivolcs – DoST introduces Berkeley students to their earthquake monitoring and reporting system. (Photo courtesy of Olivia Kuo, Berkeley Engineering) Twenty UC Berkeley students — most with limited travel experience, including some who have never left the United States — went on a whirlwind educational tour of Singapore and the Philippines earlier this summer to learn firsthand how technology innovation and application is approached in countries outside of the United States.

The experience was part of a new program called GLOBE Ambassadors, offered by the Dado and Maria Banatao Center for Global Learning and Outreach from Berkeley Engineering (GLOBE), which develops mutually beneficial educational and research programs with international partners, including academic institutions, government agencies and businesses alike.

“With this program, we hope to help students understand the opportunities for international careers and show them how technology is developed and adopted in other countries through start-ups, major corporations, and government institutions and investment programs,” said Anthony St. George, GLOBE executive director and assistant dean for Berkeley Engineering’s international and corporate partnerships. “This time, we chose Singapore and the Philippines because they are very different in terms of innovation, but both within the ASEAN economic region of Southeast Asia.”

Before the students left for Asia, they studied the history and economy of Singapore and the Philippines, and learned about the impact of new technology in the region.

“Because only a relatively small number of engineering students embark upon campus education abroad programs, an average of about 75 students per year, we felt it was time to provide an opportunity for those with less international exposure to have the opportunity to gain a more global understanding,” said St. George.

During their weeklong trip, the Berkeley group met local engineering students and professors, visited research centers and companies, and met with Berkeley alumni living and working abroad and get their personal perspectives on the countries and their initiatives in technology development.

For the students, the experience was impactful. “I still can’t believe I got so much out of this program,” said Mario Fontes, second year environmental engineering major. “More than teaching me about entrepreneurship, startups, government agencies and how all this connects to engineering, the program put me in touch with some incredible people, gave me a solid group of friends in Berkeley and gave me newfound fuel to pursue my engineering goals.”

“The words ‘life changing’ are an understatement with regards to this trip. It exposed me to two vastly different countries — the Philippines and Singapore — and taught me to think in a more global context,” said Shayna Kothari, a third year electrical engineering and computer sciences major.

According to St. George, the classes and trip this past summer were a pilot to understand the value to students and the logistics and resources needed to implement the program. The GLOBE Ambassadors program is expected to continue next spring.