Posted on September 8, 2023 by Sean M. Wood

Students from Klesse College had the chance to explore Japan and visit organizations and universities to learn more about global challenges and engineering opportunities.
Klesse students in Japan

Klesse students in Japan

Fourteen engineering students immersed themselves in Japanese culture for two weeks as part of ENGR 1343 — Impact of Modern Technology on Society. 

Professor of Practice Steve Skarke of the Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design described the course as a hybrid study abroad program. Students spent the bulk of their class time at UTSA before venturing to Japan. There they visited five manufacturing companies and three university engineering schools. 

“I am not sure that anyone has ever tried a short trip program like this that included visiting so many companies and universities,” Skarke said. “The objective was to provide the students exposure to engineers working in their field in a different culture so that they could learn for themselves that the world is small, and we are all facing the same challenges in our profession. They could also learn that their opportunities are global and might be able to find a place for themselves outside of the U.S.” 

Coursework involved studying several areas of technology in manufacturing, energy, health care, transportation, and other industries. They had to research the impact of these developments on society along with engineering ethics and leadership. 

Students studied the same topics in Japan touring companies like Kawasaki, Kaneka, Himadzu, Ricoh, and Bridgestone. They saw tires that can charge electric vehicles, technology for printing thin film batteries, and polymers produced from bacteria. 

The group also visited Kobe University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, and the University of Tokyo, gaining insight into Japan’s engineering education system. 

“The students had several unique opportunities to get to connect with professionals and students in a variety of capacities in Japan,” said Ruben Mercado, Associate Director of the Student Success Center, who traveled with the group. “Students got to network with peers and graduate students in their fields and learn what it is like to live and study in Japan.” 

Students also had the opportunity to visit several important cultural sites like Kyoto and Hiroshima, where the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb during World War II. The students visited the Atomic Dome and Peace Park in Hiroshima. 

"This trip has been the highlight of my college experience,” said Maricela McKinley, a senior chemical engineering major. “I learned a new way of living, gained knowledge about a different country and, also made new friends that I was able to share the experience with. If I could, I would do it all over again, but for now I will be planning another trip back to Japan." 

— Sean M. Wood