Recent reports show a continued decline in international students choosing to study in the United States. According to the 2018 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, the number of students enrolling for the first time at American colleges dropped nearly 7 percent from 2016 to 2017. While our student body is diverse, Temple Engineering has seen a similar trend emerge.
This is particularly concerning to me, both as a first-generation immigrant and an engineer, but also as an educator for more than three decades. In order for this country to remain competitive, we must welcome students from around the world.
Engineers shape global progress on nearly every level — from manipulating the smallest cellular organisms, to the development of 3-D printing and drone technology, to researching the next frontier of data protection and usage. Engineers build not just buildings and bridges, but businesses, with a significant number of Fortune 500 CEOs studying engineering as undergraduates.
Recent years have shown a significant concern in the U.S. regarding a shortage of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workers for the marketplace. While Temple Engineering has taken steps toward broadening STEM participation in Philadelphia with the creation of the Center for Inclusive Competitiveness, the holistic solution is a global one.
I frequently tell our graduating students: While today is about you, tomorrow is about the world around you. Applying the skills learned to make the world a better place is the true measure of one's success as an engineer. And there is no better way to impact the world than to be a student of it.
Temple University recently celebrated You Are Welcome Here Week, a campaign to let international students from around the world know that they are welcome on U.S. college campuses by celebrating our diversity.
Among the international students Temple Engineering has welcomed in recent years is bioengineering alumna Arooj Khan. Arooj was born in the Netherlands and raised around the world — from Amsterdam to Pakistan to Los Angeles — and is now an R&D engineer.
Just last week, mechanical engineering students Salman Alotaibi and Yaqoub Bushehri, both Kuwaitis, won the university-wide Fox School of Business Innovative Idea Competition. Their simple but impactful idea? A portable, lightweight washing machine that could have a variety of applications, from stemming the spread of disease to better-preparing platoons of troops, simply by making it easier to wash clothes.
Arooj, Salman and Yaqoub are just three of the many international students who have chosen not just Temple, but the United States as the place to start their engineering careers. We will continue to be a welcoming, inclusive place for more international students like them, and encourage our higher education partners to do the same.
Keya Sadeghipour is dean of the College of Engineering at Temple University.