The past several years have seen a dramatic increase in the calls for universities and the education community to re-think undergraduate education and create opportunities that prepare students to become effective global professionals. The key motivator for these calls is the recognized need to have a research and industrial workforce that can work collaboratively across cultures and disciplines to address major challenges and to compete in a global marketplace.
In parallel, the capacity of computing, information, and communication technology “has crossed thresholds that now make possible a comprehensive ‘cyberinfrastructure’ on which to build new types of scientific and engineering knowledge environments and organization. The Pacific Rim Experiences for Undergraduates (PRIME, prime.ucsd.edu) program addresses the need for students to have both a substantive international and cultural experience and the opportunity to actively use or develop the future cyberinfrastructure. The overarching goals of PRIME are to: develop an integrated and sustainable undergraduate international research program that can serve as a model for undergraduate education in the 21st Century at a world-class research university; prepare students to become effective global professionals and citizens; and give students a head-start on careers in science and technology research.
PRIME addresses the need and is a roadmap describing the know-how for providing all students at the undergraduate level with the opportunity to participate in an international research and cultural experience. Features of the PRIME student experiences include the conduct, presentation, and dissemination of research; immersion in an international host site as an apprentice researcher; training for cultural awareness; learning to become an effective member of an international research team. Several students have published papers, and their research experiences helped them decide on their professional path. All students self-report tremendous gains in personal development due to having lived abroad, in an unfamiliar environment.
For more information about PRIME, please see http://video-jsoe.ucsd.edu/calit2/PRIME/, or on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lY6×0S3IoA).
PRIME is a three year project, funded primarily by National Science Foundation (Award OISE 0710726) to the University of California San Diego, with additional support from California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, and involves collaborations with the Computer Network Information Center, Chinese Academy of Science, Beijing, China; Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; National Center for High-performance Computing, National Applied Research Laboratory, Hsinchu, Taiwan; Osaka University, Osaka Japan; and new in 2008 University of Auckland, Auckland New Zealand; University Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia; and University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand.
Beginning next year, the PRIME program will be extended to the University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India, in collaboration with GEON. The emphasis for students going to India will be in the areas of geoscience and computer science