Shifting job market set stage for delegation’s visit to Clemson University
CLEMSON — A shifting job market that increasingly rewards graduates who can navigate the cultures and languages of other countries is driving a Clemson University group to strengthen ties with one of Latin America’s top universities.
Tecnológico de Monterrey sent a delegation to Clemson for two days of talks on how to expand a collaboration that begins this summer with a student exchange program.
It could mean new research and study-abroad programs for the two universities, but it’s the broader point that will hit home for students and families across South Carolina.
The Internet, trade agreements and other forces of globalization have lowered barriers to commerce between nations. As a result, an increasing number of companies operate seamlessly across borders and need employees who can reach across cultures, said Didier Rousseliere, director of Clemson’s Global Partnerships and Initiatives.
“These companies are looking for good engineers, but also for cultural understanding,” he said. “Bringing together students from the two nations will provide them with the experience that more and more employers are seeking in their job candidates.”
If the need for international experience is clear anywhere, it’s in South Carolina.
The state was recently recognized as tops in foreign direct investment by fDI magazine. About 1,200 international establishments are operating within South Carolina’s borders employing more than 115,000, according to the state Department of Commerce.
Hugo Sanabria, an assistant professor of biophysics at Clemson, said the collaboration between the two universities will help broaden students’ cultural awareness, giving them a key advantage in the job market.
“We can watch the job market shift, or we can demonstrate that we can be part of it,” he said. “We need to jump on this now to ensure our students have the skills they will need in the global corporation of the 21st century.”
Many engineering jobs, especially in research and development, will probably remain based in the United States, experts said.
But more engineers will need to work with teams in other countries, experts said. For example, if some of a product’s parts are made abroad, a U.S. engineer may need to travel to ensure quality control, experts said.
Rodrigo Martinez-Duarte, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Clemson, sees fertile ground for cooperation with Tecnológico de Monterrey, which is based in Mexico about 150 miles from the Texas border.
“The Monterrey area of Mexico and South Carolina’s Upstate a have number of similar economic activities,” he said. “Both universities and their alumni act as economic engines for their regions. Several companies have operations in both areas. To name a few, they include Kemet, Meritor, AFL and Schneider Electric.
“Both universities are in NAFTA countries, so we see several long-term opportunities.”
Tecnológico de Monterrey has more than 95,000 students on 31 campuses across Mexico, including its flagship in Monterrey.
Members of the delegation toured cutting-edge facilities at the Advanced Materials Research Lab and the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research.
In this summer’s program, 10 undergraduate engineering and science students from each university will split into groups and work on projects provided by industry. Part of the program will be in Clemson and part will be in Monterrey.
Members of the Tecnológico de Monterrey delegation included Julio Noriega Velasco, dean of the School of Engineering and Information Technology. The Clemson group that showed the delegation around the Upstate included Martinez-Duarte and Sanabria, who are both alumni of Tecnológico de Monterrey.
Taufiquar Khan, the College of Engineering and Science director of international initiatives and global engagement, said the timing of the visit fell in the heart of a month-long diversity celebration organized by the nonprofit Upstate International.
“The Upstate has a long history of making commerce and industry a top priority and warmly welcoming people from other regions and countries,” Khan said. “It’s fitting that we continue this tradition by building a bridge that could enhance economic development for South Carolina and Monterrey.”
“We are pleased to welcome the Tecnológico de Monterrey delegation to Clemson,” he said. “Collaboration with international universities fits squarely with Clemson’s efforts to build a campus-wide global engagement infrastructure that helps prepare students for challenges they face in an interconnected, dynamic world.”
Mark Leising, who will be dean of the new College of Science at Clemson, said that collaborations with universities in other nations will also help Clemson build a climate that attracts and retains a more diverse student body, faculty and staff.
“The similarities between Clemson University and Tecnológico de Monterrey make for fertile ground to expand a collaboration that can enhance cultural understanding on both sides of the border,” he said. “We look forward to showing the delegation all that Clemson has to offer and setting the stage for growth.”