International Students Bring Global Perspective to Engineering Programs
Merrimack’s graduate engineering degrees welcome students and faculty from all over the world.
For international students who seek their graduate engineering degrees in the United States, Merrimack College’s welcoming community holds a lot of appeal. But it also takes some getting used to.
“In engineering degree programs outside the United States,” says Merrimack engineering professor Roselita Fragoudakis, a native of Greece, “it’s not as acceptable for students to approach their professors. There’s a more formal mentality. But professors at Merrimack have an open-door policy, and that creates a very friendly environment in our graduate engineering degrees.”
That’s one of many adjustments international students must make when they pursue an American graduate engineering degree. In addition, international students must take classes in a new language, learn unfamiliar customs, and even work with different units of measurement (the English system, versus the metric system that’s used in most countries).
Although this transition can be challenging, international students at Merrimack get the support they need to excel in the engineering programs.
“Merrimack College gives international students full help and respect,” says Xiajun Hu, a Chinese student who completed his engineering master’s degree in 2019. “The advisers and faculty helped me plan for each semester, ensuring that I could gradually adapt to the atmosphere of American colleges.”
“I would rate Merrimack’s engineering graduate degrees with five stars,” adds TanHuy Doan, a Vietnamese engineering student. “I have no complaints at all about the education I got at Merrimack.”
Indian student Nirmal Mallavarapu voices similar thoughts. “The way teaching happens in other countries is different from the way it happens in the United States,” he says, “but the Merrimack faculty understand the struggles an international student is facing. They support us, they give us advice, and they help us to get through the transition.”
Merrimack Supports International Students in Many Ways
After considering many U.S. institutions for his graduate engineering degree, Xiajun Hu chose Merrimack College for several reasons. First, he liked the institution’s small enrollment and intimate campus.
“You could know almost every professor at the School of Engineering,” he says, “and they take care of international students. Whether or not you were enrolled in their class, they were always willing to help. That provided great convenience and comfort.”
Merrimack’s scholarship and fellowship programs also played an important role in attracting Hu to Merrimack’s graduate engineering degrees.
“The fellowship awarded to me accounted for half of the tuition,” he says. “A large percentage of the international students I know at Merrimack received scholarships. This is not like other schools, that award most of the scholarships to local students.”
Other benefits for international engineering students at Merrimack College include:
Cultural Diversity Prepares You for Engineering Careers
According to Professor Fragoudakis, the cultural exchange that occurs in Merrimack’s graduate engineering programs is a benefit to American students as well as international students.
“It creates a very rich environment that mirrors the engineering workforce,” she says. “In the global economy, we all work with people who have different cultural approaches and different backgrounds. So it’s a great benefit to earn your engineering master’s degree in the same type of environment.”
Fragoudakis notes that many international manufacturers, technology companies and engineering firms have offices in the Boston area. They include American companies who operate overseas, and foreign-based companies who do business in North America.
These opportunities enable some international students to find engineering jobs in the United States. For example, Nirmal Mallavarapu had been planning to return to India for his engineering career, but when he received an offer from Vecna Robotics (based in Waltham, Massachusetts) he accepted the job.
“The Merrimack community is not intimidating for international students,” says engineering professor Sadegh Asgari, a native of Iran. “It’s a very friendly environment. And that’s a good feeling.”
“Merrimack College gives international students full help and respect. The advisers and faculty helped me gradually adapt to the atmosphere of American colleges.”
― Xiajun Hu, MS Engineering Management ’19