Advancing a Global Perspective

Advancing a Global Perspective

Engaging with education, research, and innovation partners around the world is a primary source of Georgia Tech’s strength and ongoing vitality.


Several representatives from the U.S. and China signing documents pertaining to the Shenzhen partnership

Georgia Tech President G.P. “Bud” Peterson, seated left, signed an agreement in a ceremony in Shenzhen, China, on Dec. 2, 2016, to create a new collaboration with the city of Shenzhen and Tianjin University. Co-signers with Peterson are Vice Mayor Yihuan Wu of Shenzhen Municipal People's Government, center, and Tianjin University President Denghua Zhong, right.

Shenzhen Partnership Advances Key Strategic Relationships

A new educational collaboration among Georgia Tech, the city of Shenzhen, and Tianjin University in China will expand global opportunities in science, technology, and engineering education. President G.P. “Bud” Peterson signed the collaboration agreement in a ceremony in Shenzhen last fall.

The Georgia Tech Tianjin University Shenzhen Institute offers majors in electrical and computer engineering, computer science, industrial design, environmental engineering, and analytics. Georgia Tech coordinates the graduate programs at the specialized institute, while Tianjin University, China’s oldest university, coordinates the undergraduate programs.

The Shenzhen government provided land, startup funding, and operational subsidies. The vision is that the specialized institute will enroll 800 undergraduate and graduate students from throughout the world by 2020, and 3,000 students by 2030. It will present new opportunities for U.S.-based students, including study abroad programs and internships, and will expand Georgia Tech’s China Summer Program.

“This historic agreement is in alignment with Georgia Tech’s focus on internationalization, as outlined in our 25-year Strategic Plan,” said Peterson. “It will serve as a great vehicle to engage our strong alumni base in China and increase Georgia Tech’s global reputation as a leading technological research institution.”

“This historic agreement is in alignment with Georgia Tech’s focus on internationalization, as outlined in our 25-year Strategic Plan.”

G.P. “Bud” Peterson

“Having a full international campus is unusual, and we only do that when there is a compelling reason to benefit the institutions involved, as well as to provide a unique educational experience for students,” said Rafael L. Bras, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs and the K. Harrison Brown Family Chair. “Today’s agreement marks such an opportunity.”

Shenzhen is China’s high-tech capital and is often referred to as the “Silicon Valley of China.”

“This initiative was spearheaded by Professor G. Tong Zhou, associate vice provost for International Initiatives, and represents an exciting opportunity for Georgia Tech to be present in one of the fastest-growing technological centers of China,” said Yves Berthelot, vice provost for International Initiatives. “Educational and research programs, combined with internships, will be tremendously beneficial to our students.”

Future plans for the Georgia Tech Tianjin University Shenzhen Institute include developing major research centers led by world-renowned Georgia Tech faculty.

A college student helping a child with a bow and arrow

Students spent the first week in Budapest visiting Bator Tabor, a therapeutic recreation camp for children living with cancer or other chronic illnesses. Photo by Carlin Zaprowski.

Social Entrepreneurship Is Topic of Studies in Eastern Europe

Every summer, through the Leadership for Social Good Study Abroad Program, faculty and staff of the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship (ILE) lead a group of undergraduates on an educational experience in Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

Through classroom lectures, site visits, and close work with nonprofits, students learn how social enterprises and nonprofit institutions work and what type of leadership is effective in this sector.

This past year, students spent the first week in Budapest, Hungary, visiting Bator Tabor, a therapeutic recreation camp for children living with cancer or other chronic illnesses.

“Hearing the impact and experiencing the impact [an organization has] is very different,” said Manaka Sato, a biomedical engineering major. “Our group had the opportunity to experience some of the influence that Bator Tabor has on the seriously ill children firsthand.”

During the five weeks that the students spent in Budapest working with nonprofit organizations, they had the opportunity to see how the theory they learned in the classroom worked in practice, witness the challenges small organizations face on a daily basis, and contribute to solving those problems.

Three students with a testing kit on a city stoop; a bucket filled with brown water on a tile floor; a group photo including some local people

Left: Rhiannon Flanagan-Rosario (left) and Rebecca Yoo (front) of Georgia Tech, and Damaris Rios of the Catholic University of Bolivia, work outside one of the 80 households the team tested. Center: An example of stored tap water at a home. Right: A local family welcomes the student researchers to their home, where they prepared a small thank-you meal for their guests. Photos by Riley Poynter, Osvaldo Brösicke, and Rachel Brashear.

Alternative Service Break Efforts Continue to Grow

Each year, the number of Tech students choosing to devote their spring breaks to service-learning projects increases. Locations for service projects last spring included U.S. sites as well as Central America and South America.


Joe Brown, assistant professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, traveled with students from his CEE 4350 course, Environmental Technology in the Developing World, to Cochambamba, Bolivia. The water quality-focused research trip included a group of 10 students and two teaching assistants.

Over 10 days, the group worked with local partners in Bolivia to conduct water quality surveys. The Catholic University of Bolivia joined with Tech students for a cultural and scientific exchange.

This course runs in parallel with similar courses at Duke University and Yale University. At the end of the semester, the three classes met at a research conference in New York to present their findings.

“Georgia Tech truly is a diverse school, and this trip reminded me of just how important diversity is in the world.”

Michael Bryan

Costa Rica

Third-year chemical engineering major Allison Sellers led a trip to Costa Rica. A team of 14 traveled to the Central American country to work on a sea turtle rescue project with Community Collaborations. In their free time, group members participated in canopy tours and rainforest hikes.

“I was excited about leading the trip to Costa Rica because I’m passionate about the environment and traveling abroad,” Sellers said. “This trip was unique because of its purpose and international destination.”

Sellers has attended service break trips since her first year at Tech. She was involved with service work throughout high school.


The Office of International Education (OIE) and Serve-Learn-Sustain partnered to host an Alternative Service Break trip to DeFuniak Springs, Florida. The trip provided an opportunity for participants to take part in an environmental service project near the Gulf Coast. More than 40 students from the U.S. and around the world participated.

This year’s trip supported the Living Shoreline, a conservation project used in coastal regions to help promote the growth of micro-ecosystems and reduce erosion. It includes the bagging of fossilized oysters, which are strategically placed along beaches to help build up sand pockets, slowing the effects of erosion.

“My favorite memory from this trip was on the bus ride from dinner one evening,” said Michael Bryan, an undergraduate environmental engineering major. “Every person on the bus representing a cultural region performed a song in their language — performances from Russia, Spain, China, Singapore, India, America, the list goes on. At no other point on the trip did I feel more connected with this group, and I am truly glad for this experience. Georgia Tech truly is a diverse school, and this trip reminded me of just how important diversity is in the world.”

Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter Receive Ivan Allen Prize for Social Courage

President G.P. “Bud” Peterson awarded the 2017 Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage to Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter last February.

“It is appropriate that this, our first Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage to be presented to a couple, will be awarded to Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter,” Peterson said. “Together, they exemplify the far-reaching global changes that are possible through a lifetime partnership in social courage.”

The former president and first lady were jointly recognized for their partnership in a courageous collaboration to improve human rights and alleviate suffering around the world. Over the span of more than four decades, their work has focused on improving health, preventing and resolving conflicts, and enhancing freedom and democracy.

They are the first couple to receive the award, which recognizes those who demonstrate leadership to improve the human condition despite personal risks and challenges.

After the ceremony, the Carters participated in a town hall discussion with Georgia Tech students.

“It’s a pleasure always to be associated with the Ivan Allen family in any way. We’ve been close to the family for a long time,” said Jimmy Carter, who attended Georgia Tech and received an honorary degree from the Institute in 1979. “In every respect my heart is with Georgia Tech and I’m particularly grateful to Ivan Allen himself and his family, and this award has special meaning for me.”

“This is a great honor for me, especially to receive an award in the name of Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. for whom I had such great admiration,” Rosalynn Carter said. “Mayor Allen was a beacon of light for Jimmy and for me and so many others in our whole country, standing up for what was good and what was right.”

The Carters, who have been married for more than 70 years, have accomplished much together, whether it be their time in the White House, his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, or her groundbreaking work in mental health advocacy.

Ivan Allen Award Ceremony

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter accept the Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage from President G.P. "Bud" Peterson.

Ivan Allen Q&A with the Carters

The Carters answer questions and share stories from a lifetime of global advocacy.


It's a favorite song of the former president and first lady, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, so students from Georgia Tech teamed up to surprise them and sing a cover of the John Lennon classic for the couple as they accepted the 2017 Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage.

Olympic Swimming Team Practices in Aquatic Center

Last summer the McAuley Aquatic Center hosted the U.S. Olympic diving and swimming teams leading up to the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, providing the campus community and the public an opportunity to see them practice and get autographs.

The USA Diving Team hosted a send-off celebration that included open practices, team-building exercises, and visits to local children’s hospitals. The events also included members of the 1996 Diving Team from the Atlanta Olympics.

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