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Georgia Tech Creates New Study Abroad Program in Panama

Jan 2, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

For Russ Clark, the Georgia Tech faculty member who will lead the Panama Summer Program, creating a study abroad program in the Central American country provides unique value for students. 


“Panama has been ‘global’ for longer than we’ve been calling things ‘global,’" said Clark, co-director of the Georgia Tech Research Network Operations Center (GT-RNOC) and senior research scientist in the School of Computer Science. "Because of its strategic location, it’s been a business and cultural crossroads for the world for more than a century. This history, combined with Panama’s continued outsized importance in global transportation and business, results in rich cultural diversity and interesting opportunities to work on projects with global impact.”

The seven-week program will run May 9 through June 30. While it’s open to students from all majors, the two courses offered for the program’s inaugural year are CS 4400 Databases and CS 4261 Mobile Applications and Services, which are especially well-suited for computer science and industrial engineering students. Creating additional study abroad options for these students was one of the motivations for starting the program, according to Clark. Another was the opportunity to continue working with the Georgia Tech Logistics Innovation & Research Center in Panama. This connection “provides a unique chance for CS and IE students to learn through working on real-world problems in a location that is a global hub for companies and people doing work in supply chain and logistics,” he said.

Courses offered through the program will encourage cross-cultural experiences and incorporate the local surroundings. Students will collaborate with innovators, researchers, students, and educators from the Georgia Tech Panama Logistics Innovation & Research Center, and Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá (UTP), the leading engineering research institution in the country. They'll also take field trips to locations like the Panama Canal and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute that offer learning and cultural opportunities unique to the area.

Students will live and study in Ciudad del Saber (City of Knowledge), a former U.S. military base located in the suburbs of Panama City, which the Panamanian government converted into an independently-run center of learning and innovation.

“Ciudad del Saber is a lot like the environment we’re cultivating at Tech Square,” explained Jennifer Mullins, GT-RNOC programs manager and coordinator of the Panama Summer Program. “It’s designed to encourage startups, and to be a hub for innovation, education, and research.”

"The Georgia Tech Panama Summer Program offers students a valuable opportunity for enhancing their technical skills and expanding their cultural horizons," said Jorge E. Barnett Lawton, interim managing director, Georgia Tech Panama Logistics Innovation & Research Center. "As a global logistics hub and a home base for a large number of global firms, Panama offers a blooming business environment, a growing innovation community, and a perfect setting for this type of program where collaboration and creativity can truly thrive."

In their downtime, a five-minute walk will take students to La Plaza, where they’ll find restaurants, a bank, dry cleaners, bookstore, art gallery, and other services and amenities.

The application deadline for the Panama Summer Program is February 1. To learn more, visit the GT-RNOC or Office of International Education websites, or contact Russ Clark or Jennifer Mullins.

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