G-DORM Short-term Student Exchange Program

Oct 09 2018

Faculty of Engineering, Niigata University conducted a Student Exchange Program for 11 days from Saturday, August 18 to Tuesday, August 28 as a part of the Inter-University Exchange Project “Co-creative Dormitory-type Group-work for SciTech Students in Japan and Mekong Countries with Regional Collaboration (G-DORM)”.

Niigata University in collaboration with four partner universities in the Mekong region, Royal University of Phnom Penh (Cambodia), National University of Laos (Laos), Chulalongkorn University (Thailand), and Hanoi University of Science and Technology (Vietnam), works together in G-DORM project implementing a student exchange program to foster global SciTech leaders capable of solving regional vitalization issues from an integrative stand point.

In this exchange program, students from Niigata University and four partner universities in the Mekong region form cross-academic year, cross-disciplinary, and multinational student groups and carry out mainly project-based group work (GW) in short-term (10 days), medium-term (2 months), and long-term (6 to 12 months) courses. These courses are offered in cooperation with Niigata regional enterprises (including their local subsidiaries in the Mekong region) that possess international development capabilities. Thus, it aims to nurture practical, globally-minded individuals who can combine an industry-academia approach to regional collaboration, multi-disciplinary thinking, an international mindset, leadership, and insight into the consistent process of industrial change.

The Short-term Exchange Program involved GW internships collaborated with Tsubamate, a non-profit organization (NPO) that works on industrial promotion with the City of Tsubame. The GW internships were conducted with 8 enterprises in Tsubame area to solve the issues provided by each company, and 7 groups which consisted of 16 students from the partner universities in the Mekong region and 19 students from Niigata University tackled the issues as group work.

As a platform for sharing the achievement of the short-term program, we held the Forum on Global SciTech Education through Regional Collaboration on Monday, August 27 at the large conference room of the Graduate School of Science and Technology. The forum also intended as a faculty development of the Faculty of Engineering. The groups of participating students provided English presentations on their achievements of the GW internship in front of the audience including five faculty members from the four partner universities in the Mekong region as well as Professor Ushiki, an executive vice president of Niigata University.

In each presentation, students explained the characteristics of accepting enterprises based on the strength of industrial clusters and the international development capabilities in the Tsubame area. They also proposed their ideas for how to solve the provided issues and lack of young workers in English. With 59 participants including professors, faculty, staff, students, and non-faculty participants from inside and outside of the university, we had a fruitful question and answer session.

Participating professors stated: "G-DORM is a good program for improving international problem-solving group work skills" and "the approach to real issues given by internship companies is effective as active learning." At a reflection workshop conducted to review what the most important learning through the program was, the participating students stated that they were able to improve their problem-solving skills, flexible thinking, leadership skills, confidence to speak in English, and skills to prepare presentation materials within a limited time. They also said they had managed to deepen their understanding of the value of the Tsubame area. Some students showed their intention to use these useful experience as a stepping stone to participate in a longer program in the future.

We would like to express our sincere appreciation to NPO Tsubamate as well as administrative agencies and enterprises in Tsubame city for their great support and cooperation in implementing our short-term program.