Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Students get Global Edge

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For Peter Cribb (current Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Department Chair) and Professors George Tourlakis and Jarek Gryz, the importance of educating students with global perspectives inspired the trio, as far back as 2005, to connect with colleagues abroad to offer experiential learning opportunities to students that transcend classrooms at York University.

In 2003, the Department of Computer Science (renamed in 2004 to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering) began an exchange program with the Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg (H-BRS) a university in Germany, through a partnership with their Computer Science Department.

A couple years later, in 2005, Tourlakis expanded this exchange program to include the Computer Science department at the University of Crete and the affiliated (Research) Institute of Computer Science (ICS), the latter part of the major national research centre, Foundation for Research and Technology - Hellas (FORTH) in Crete, Greece.

During this time, Gryz also facilitated a partnership through the Warsaw University of Technology, an exchange partnership that stayed strong until 2012.

In 2005 the professors received a Human Resources and Development Canada (HRSDC) grant of $200,000 over a 3-year term which helped offset the cost of running these international programs. The EU partners also received a matching grant by the government agency Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). The grant was renewed for another three-year term in 2008, at the same funding level as did the matching EACEA grant.

At that time “transatlantic student (and faculty) mobility” was firmly positioned in the federal government’s agenda, and the two grants supported the International Mobility activities of three Canadian partners (York [leading], Dalhousie and UNB) in Canada and three in the EU (H-BRS [leading], U of Crete/FORTH-ICS and the Warsaw University of Technology).

With the demise of the federal funding program in 2011, Warsaw and U of Crete became unable to meet the fiscal challenge of sending students on exchange. A new agreement between York, H-BRS and the Foundation for Research and Technology – Institute of Computer Science (a U of Crete affiliate commonly referred to as ICS) was signed in 2015 to continue our transatlantic mobility programs, funding them internally.

This is in the spirit of the HRSDC/EACEA student (faculty) mobility programs that encouraged institutions that they supported to reach a point where they would sustain such mobility on their own.

Currently, any students enrolled in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science degree programs at Lassonde are eligible to apply for a summer exchange program, formally called Summer Schools, at ICS in Greece or H-BRS in Germany, taught by colleagues at the respective institutions in English.

Both programs generate interest from students looking to take their learning abroad, with enrollment in programs offered at ICS increasing almost 100% this summer (2019) with eight students heading to the Island to learn from Tourlakis’ colleagues. An advanced Summer School (EECS 4422 3.00) in H-BRS was already held (May 15—June 15, 2019) with some participation by EECS majors.

The courses earn students 3 or 4 credits which count toward their Lassonde degrees and are offered as off-campus, York University courses, requiring students to enroll via the University’s Registration and Enrolment Module, by permission from the exchange coordinator.

Course availability depends on who from the respective institutions are available to teach relevant EECS courses that term, but in the past courses covered have included equivalents of:

  • EECS 4421, 4422, 4481, 4412, 4441, 4215, 4312, 4313, 4412, 4491 and 3461.

If you are interested in studying abroad in Germany or Greece during the summer months, please reach out to Professor George Tourlakis for more information.

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