NAU abroad: President Cheng works to grow partnerships south of the border

NAU President Rita Cheng led a delegation of university leadership to partner institution Center for Technical and Higher Education University (CETYS) in Mexicali, Mexico, earlier this month to further develop programming and collaborative initiatives between the two institutions.

University leadership and staff from various departments across the Flagstaff campus and NAU-Yuma joined the presidential delegation, including: David Schultz, vice president for research; Daniel Palm, associate vice president for global initiatives and executive director for the Center for International Education; Michael Sabath, campus executive officer for NAU-Yuma; Diane Stearns, interim dean of the College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences; Kevin Trainor, associate dean of the W.A. Franke College of Business; Tom Cheng, executive-in-residence; Alex Steenstra, chair of business department at NAU-Yuma; and Kristin Allen, program manager for Latin American Initiatives.Group in Mexico

CETYS President Fernando León García opened the meeting and welcomed the group to CETYS’s Center for Excellence in Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (CECE), emphasizing the importance of international collaboration among institutions of higher education to create global opportunities that prepare students to participate in the social, cultural and economic improvement in multiple countries throughout the world.

Following conversation surrounding campus internationalization and collaboration in areas of engineering and business, the group visited CETYS’s new Center for Innovation and Design (CEID). Inaugurated in January 2018, the CEID houses CETYS’s engineering learning community and aims to provide solutions for continuous improvement and stimulate innovation and growth across industry and business. While there, first-year robotics students shared projects in areas of transportation (autonomous vehicles) and conservation (hydroponics) with the group.

“Creating and building relationships with institutions of higher education abroad creates opportunity,” Cheng said. “I look forward to working closely with Dr. García and seeing how this partnership can benefit our students here at NAU and in Mexicali.”

Cheng and Schultz tour Honeywell.

The group also had the opportunity to tour Honeywell’s aerospace testing lab while in Mexicali, a unique location that houses a wind tunnel to support the 777X platform by Boeing and enables continued development of Honeywell’s engineering capacities. CETYS fosters strong relationships between corporations and industry throughout Mexicali, which in turn has provided NAU’s faculty-led programs with access to important site visits such as Honeywell, Kenworth and SkyWorks over the last few years.

While NAU and CETYS have seen both student and faculty short-term exchange in international business, this visit aims to further the partnership to include collaborative research and investigation in strategic areas such as logistics, renewable energies and water management, as well the establishment of a bilateral student exchange, dual-degree programming and cross-border leadership training opportunities.