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Flexible programs at ASU Study Abroad allow for different ways to see the world.
Want to study abroad & stay on track with degree? @ASUStudyAbroad has your back.
April 20, 2017

Since the inception of Global Intensive Experiences, the number of students studying abroad during breaks has more than doubled

When considering challenges such as staying on track for an on-time graduation, taking time away from family or work obligations and making a big dent in finances, the Arizona State University Study Abroad Office adopted a new program model to meet students where they are.

Similar to faculty-led programs where students take courses with an ASU professor and other ASU students, this new type of program (coined Global Intensive Experiences) bridges these gaps, and does so during seven- to 12-day academic breaks, typically winter or spring break.

With tuition packaged within the regular semester costs, these programs offer an affordable price tag (particularly since financial aid and scholarships apply) and don’t disrupt jam-packed major maps. These programs are also ideal for first-generation college students, the novice traveler or students who want to reserve their summers for internships or work.

“By offering innovative scheduling options, we can reach more students with different kinds of experiences,” said Andi Hess, study abroad program faculty director.

This past spring break, students learned about the coffee industry in Costa Ricadove into topics related to borders and identity in Cuba and got a taste for the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic — all while earning academic credit. Starting in 2016, there were four programs and 65 student participants. In the current year, students had three times the amount of opportunity at 12 programs, with 176 student participants, and 2018 will offer around 30 programs with spots for nearly 300 students.

The Study Abroad Office hasn’t stopped there. To offer more options for students’ schedules, spring 2018 is a pioneering time for semester-long faculty-led programs abroad, offered during sessions A and B. The goal of these programs is to provide more economically sound options for students without disrupting their academic schedules.

One of the inaugural semester faculty-led programs in Chiang Mai, Thailand (directed by ASU Professor Martin Matuštík), offers a direct look into the culture through the Southeast Asian-West Perspectives on Philosophy, Religion and Society. With the choice of six or nine credits, students will spend seven and a half weeks bookended between winter break and spring break studying death, social conflict and transformation, and cultural and gender studies.

“Spending a semester abroad is something that a student may never have time to do again. ASU offers many programs abroad, but this one is among the very few that give students a full semester-equivalent abroad and still one session back on campus,” Matuštík said.

Besides developing intercultural competence and leadership skills required to face global challenges, Matuštík noted that students will “expand in new directions, make one’s resume stand out, pursue new topics for a capstone, thesis or field experience (clinical, political-NGO, religious or social work field experience or internship).”

On the other side of the world, Hess’ session B program is another faculty-directed option to study Identity and Conflict in the Balkans.

“The semester schedule also allows students to fit study abroad into their planned academic schedule in ways many can’t during the summers due to family, work and other obligations,” she said. “Innovative options like embedded semester programs allow us to reach more students with these incredible transformative opportunities, which in turn enriches our community.”

This five-week program offers six credits for students and covers five cities in four countries across Eastern Europe.

“We will be able to engage with local people of all kinds that would otherwise be inaccessible during the busy summer months when many areas are crowded with tourists. We are also able to offer these programs to students at a lower cost when they occur during off-seasons,” Hess said.

These programs support the vision of the Study Abroad Office in providing every student with meaningful opportunities for academic and personal growth. Students can participate in programs as short as a week, as long as a year and everything in between. ASU credit is issued on all programs, and students can earn credit toward their major, minor, certificate, general education coursework or electives. Global Intensive Experiences and faculty-led programs are only two of the four program types, with partnership and exchange options readily available for students as well.

Apply to Matuštík’s program in Thailand here, or follow his Facebook page for more details. The application to Hess’ program in the Balkans is here. The deadline for these two programs is Sept. 25.

To learn more about the 250-plus study abroad programs in more than 65 different countries offered at ASU, see the Study Abroad Office website.

 

Top photo: The Phra Singh Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Panupong Roopyai/Wikimedia Commons

Carrie Herrera Niesen

Communications and marketing specialist , Study Abroad Office

480-727-9635

 
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XL Hybrids vehicles have gone 42 million miles, saving 788,000 gallons of fuel.
April 20, 2017

XL Hybrids sells electric drive systems to companies including Coca-Cola, which showed 20 percent reduction in fuel use in fleet

The saying about solar power is that it pays for itself, but not in your lifetime: The same thing could be said about hybrid vehicles. Yes, they run cheaper and they’re better for the environment, but the initial investment can be daunting.

If that’s true for individual consumers, consider the plight of fleet managers who oversee hundreds or thousands of vehicles. 

But a company nurtured by Arizona State University has hit upon a solution, offering systems to convert new or existing fleets to hybrid vehicles.

It’s a technology that has been snapped up by Coca-Cola, the city of Boston, the Seattle Fire Department, ThyssenKrupp Elevator Americas and AmeriPride Services.

XL Hybrids sells electric drive systems that use regenerative braking to cut back on fuel use. An electric motor helps slow the vehicle during braking, which charges the hybrid battery. When the driver accelerates, the hybrid battery releases the stored energy to the electric motor, helping to propel the vehicle.

To date, XL Hybrids converted vehicles have driven more than 42 million customer miles. That’s more than 87 round-trip journeys to the moon. XL converted hybrids have saved almost 788,000 gallons of fuel. That’s 49,250 fillups for an average SUV. They have kept more than 7,000 tons of carbon dioxide out of the air, and saved 6,300 hours of driver productivity by being on the road longer and not returning for gas topoffs. That’s more than 157 work weeks, or roughly a year’s work of three employees.

Companies attracted to the technology tend to have put 30,000 to 40,000 miles per year on vehicles they keep for about a decade. Add that up, and it’s the equivalent of about 14 trips from Los Angeles to New York. They can cut fuel bills for urban driving by 20 percent and CO2 emissions by the same percentage. 

“It can definitely turn into a very meaningful number when they have tens of thousands of vehicles in the fleet,” said XL Hybrids chief executive officer and founder Tod Hynes.

The XL3 Hybrid Electric Drive System installs in a day, underneath the vehicle body.

“The hybrid system is easy to deploy and easy to rollout,” Hynes said. “We tried to fit into the existing infrastructures.”

Coca-Cola converted 280 service vans with the XL3 Hybrid system. After 9 million service miles, the converted fleet showed 20 percent less fuel use than conventional vans. The move also contributed to the company’s goal of reducing its carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2020. The hybrid vans are expected to eliminate about 6,000 total metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions that conventional fuels would produce over their 10-year life span.

Read more: View a PDF of the Coca-Cola case study 

“This technology offered an option that provided low maintenance and fuel savings,” said Tony Eiermann, Coca-Cola North America fleet assets manager. “It was also able to work with our existing fleet structure.”

Coca-Cola continues to place orders with XL Hybrids. 

“We are scaling up,” Hynes said. “Most of our sales are repeat orders.”

A new plug-in product that converts Ford F-150s — the most popular truck in the country — is getting a lot of interest from utility companies that use them.

Hynes has a background in renewable-energy sources. As the industry took off, in 2008 he wanted to catch the next big thing to compete with oil.

“The thinking behind XL Hybrids was, ‘How can we start a company that is a good competitor with oil?’” he said.

Cody Friesen, an associate professor in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and EnergyThe School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy is part of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering., reached out to Hynes and said the Avnet Innovation Lab could be helpful. Friesen is a veteran of two startup companies and founded the Avnet Innovation Lab.

ASU has inspired or assisted in the formation or growth of an estimated 1,000 startups. More than 500 people are now employed at ASU-linked startups. ASU inventions have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in external funding, including $96 million in fiscal year 2016.

The Avnet Innovation Lab, in partnership with the Fulton Schools of Engineering, is designed to spur economic growth in the technology sector and enable aspiring entrepreneurs to advance their innovations.

“It really was a helpful connection for us, because we have a pretty extensive supply chain,” Hynes said.

As a startup, it’s hard to negotiate good deals. Starting a year ago, Avnet helped XL Hybrid review contracts and helped bid on some new agreements. The company continues to work with Avnet to get costs down.

“We’re open to talk if ASU wants us to make some shuttle buses more efficient,” Hynes said.

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now

480-727-4502