Maine Technical College System
COLLEGE STUDENTS, LOCAL COMPANIES BENEFIT FROM INTERNATIONAL
Tuesday, March 20, 2001
CONTACT: Alice Kirkpatrick
Tel: (207) 767-0116, ext. 3
AUGUSTA, Me. Austria is renowned for pastry-making and its mastery of the fine art of hospitality. Germany home to such manufacturing giants as Siemens, Otis and Daimler Chrysler is considered to have some of the best machinists in the world. And the Netherlands is aiming to make a name for itself in the high-tech industry.
Tourism, precision manufacturing, and information technology are important industries in Maine as well. And now, students of Maine's technical colleges, along with about a dozen Maine businesses, are learning and sharing their expertise with colleagues in these countries, through exchange programs offered by the Maine Technical College System (MTCS).
"We're in a global economy, and we knew it would be an invaluable experience for our students to work and study in other parts of the world," says MTCS President John Fitzsimmons. "Traveling and working abroad is also a wonderful life experience, and we're glad to be able to offer that to our students," he said.
In the past five years, the seven-college system has developed three work-based foreign exchanges: a culinary arts exchange with Austria, a manufacturing exchange with Germany, and - the newest addition - a computer technology exchange with the Netherlands.
In addition, the MTCS offers an academic exchange program with Ireland - the George J. Mitchell Scholarship Exchange that is open to applicants from any program within the MTCS and University of Maine System. The four exchange programs are coordinated by the MTCS Center for Career Development, located on the campus of Southern Maine Technical College.
The exchanges allow Maine students to work or study in their host country for anywhere from two weeks to several months. In return, about a dozen Maine employers - including coastal inns, machine tool companies, and IT companies open their doors to international students doing internships in Maine.
To date, about 50 technical college students have taken part in the exchanges. About a hundred foreign students have traveled to Maine, either to study at a technical college or intern at a Maine company.
Current and upcoming exchanges
Two Dutch students, both computer technology majors at Koning Willem I College in the Netherlands, have been in Maine since January, interning and honing their computer skills at Imany, a fast-growing, Portland-based e-commerce company. Arjan Cornelissen and Paul van Assen, both 19, are the first Dutch students to take part in this exchange.
In May, a group of eight culinary arts students from three technical colleges (six from Southern Maine Technical College in South Portland, one from Eastern Maine Technical College in Bangor, and one from Central Maine Technical College in Auburn) will travel with two SMTC instructors to Austria. The group will spend two weeks refining their pastry-making and culinary skills under master chefs at Bad Gleichenberg, one of Austria's top tourism schools. They'll also tour nearby Graz, Austria's second-largest city, and Vienna.
Thirteen Austrian students are due to arrive in Maine in June to work at inns and restaurants along Maine's coast, as part of their training program in Austria. This year's interns are being hosted by the Cliff House in Ogunquit, the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport, the Black Point Inn on Prout's Neck in Scarborough, and the Stage Neck Inn in York Harbor.
Three machine tool students from Central Maine Technical College in Auburn will leave for Germany in May to intern at Siemens Corp. and Daimler Chrysler's Mercedes division. Due to graduate in May, these students are being sponsored by the Maine companies where they work: First Technology in Standish and Maine Machine Products Co. in South Paris.
The German students will arrive in Maine, also in May, to intern at three machine tool companies: D&G Machine Products and Lanco Assembly Systems, both in Westbrook, and American Tool Cos. in Gorham.
The Austrian and German exchanges were originally designed for students participating in the Maine Career Advantage (MCA) program, a statewide internship program offered in Maine high schools by the Maine Technical College System. The exchanges were later opened up to technical college students.
Depending on which program they participate in, students receive scholarships, full or partial sponsorships from local companies, or pay their own way.
The German exchange was developed through a start-up grant from the German Marshall Fund of the United States. The exchange with the Netherlands is funded by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education and a Commission of the European Union.
Additional contact: Jean Mattimore, Executive Director, Center for Career Development, 207-767-5210, ext. 110