Engineers and cultural representatives from Italy and the United States came together at Columbia’s Low Library this week to celebrate a new program that, beginning in the fall of 2010, will train Columbia engineering students to work anywhere in Europe. The exchange program confers a master’s degree in civil engineering from Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science
(SEAS) and another from the University of Bologna, with one year of study at each institution.
|Deans Pier Paolo Diotallevi and Feniosky Peña-Mora sign the accord between the engineering schools.
Image credit: Eileen Barroso / Columbia University
The University of Bologna is the oldest center of higher learning in Europe and has numbered among its faculty Copernicus and Dante Alighieri. In 1999, it spearheaded the Bologna Initiative, to standardize academic criteria for universities throughout the European Union (EU).
“This agreement represents the joining of two bastions of tradition—the University of Bologna, widely recognized as the first university in the Western world, and Columbia University, one of the first academic institutions in the new world,” said SEAS Dean Feniosky Peña-Mora
just before signing the accord with Pier Paolo Diotallevi, dean of the University of Bologna’s faculty of engineering. “We are providing our students with a new academic opportunity that represents a cultural and pedagogical bridge that will give them distinct advantages in the global market place.”
Among those in attendance were the Hon. Francesco M. Talò, consul general of Italy; Columbia University Vice Provost Roxie Smith; and professor Paolo Valesio
, chair of Columbia’s Italian department.
The dual-degree program evolved from a collaboration between SEAS civil engineering professor Raimondo Betti
and University of Bologna professor Francesco Ubertini. The two have worked with other faculty to bring Italian students to the United States since 2003, as part of the Honors Center of Italian Universities program, or H2CU. For the first time, SEAS students will now have the chance to study in Italy.
“The codes and regulations are different here than in Europe,” says Betti. “We would like the chance for our students to go there and obtain a degree valid throughout the EU.”
The SEAS master’s is the same stand-alone degree the school currently offfers and can be granted without fulfillment of the University of Bologna degree requirements. “The innovation is that students will be able to obtain an Italian master’s degree with one year of further education,” says Régine Lambrech
, director of global initiatives and education at SEAS, who joined Columbia six months ago to broaden international study and research opportunities for students. The teaching of the University of Bologna master’s degree will be entirely in English.
“We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to present to our students, and we’re hoping it will encourage other professors to create international research opportunities for their students and for their laboratories,” said Lambrech. The dual master’s program with the University of Bologna builds upon existing study-abroad options at SEAS, including semesters at France’s Ecole Polytechnique and Ecole Centrale de Paris and the United Kingdom’s University College London.