Over this past summer during May and June, the Clemson Industrial Engineering Department, along with the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, led a new study abroad opportunity to travel to France. In all, there were 22 students, a majority of which were IE majors, and they learned about modeling methods and logistics applications in France. While abroad, the students explored the host city of Clermont-Ferrand, while also traveling and experiencing European culture.
“I found out about this study abroad trip from emails sent out by the IE department and thought it was a great opportunity because I could go abroad (I had never been to Europe) while completing classes that actually help me graduate at a really good price. I think the biggest highlights for me were meeting and talking to the French students I met and traveling to tons of cities. My city highlights include Paris, Nice, and Marseille. A highlight event was hiking the French Alps,” said Owen Daugherty, a senior IE major
2022 was the inaugural year of this Study Abroad program, and it focused specifically on current issues in transportation, logistics, and healthcare, the fundamentals of mathematical modeling and how modeling is used to solve these complex issues, and the cultural differences (professional and personal) between the U.S. and France.
“I originally heard about this in the Fall of 2019 when the trip was first supposed to happen in the Summer of 2020. The trip sounded like a lot of fun and would help me finish some IE classes that I would need. However, we all know that COVID changed a lot of plans and the trip was canceled that year, and then again in 2021. However we finally were able to go, and I am very happy that I went! Honestly, experiencing our host town and getting to know the area and the people was the most fun part of this trip and making tons of friends along the way. But more specifically the best part was hiking up the Puy de Dome,” said Nick Naranjo, a senior IE Major.
Many students had highlighted experiences, specifically when discussing their travels around France and Europe.
Shaye Gaskill, a junior IE major, described, “I went to Lyon, France; Milan, Italy; Marseilles, France; Annecy, France; and Paris, France, with the group at the end. As amazing as these weekend trips were, we also had a lot of fun in Clermont, enjoying learning about a new city and making friends. I truly think those were the best 6 weeks of my life, and the only thing that I would change is to go back in time and stay there longer.”
Dr. Kevin Taaffe, the Department Chair of Clemson IE, accompanied the students on the trip and also taught the IE course on transportation and logistics. Taaffe commented, “It was a great blend of classroom learning, cultural awareness, connection to industry leaders, and just plain fun! In less than six weeks, these students really learned what it’s like to live in another country…while making progress to their degree and creating lasting friendships.”
Taaffe collaborated with students to make sure that everyone interested had the ability to apply.
“I got involved with the study abroad trip this summer by reaching out to Dr. Taaffe. I was having trouble figuring out what I wanted to do this summer and remembered his email about the study abroad program happening in France. The deadline to sign up had already passed but Dr. Taaffe was so understanding and let me sign up for it anyway,” commented Anna Shuler, a junior IE major. “Needless to say, it was the best experience of my life. One of my favorite parts of my study abroad experience was going on weekend trips to different cities in France (and Italy) with my classmates. We were able to travel to Lyon, Milan, Marseille, Annecy, and finally Paris. While studying in Clermont-Ferrand during the week, we were able to meet with Michelin executives and explore the area that we called “home” for 6 weeks. I wish I could go back and do it all again!”
Michelin Global Headquarters in Clermont-Ferrand played a role in exposing students to relevant logistics problems during the trip, which was also included in the academic curriculum. A balance between coursework and exploring was achieved, as students spent time with classmates and friends abroad.
“I had high expectations for the trip, and the trip still exceeded my expectations with all the crazy adventures we went on. I traveled to Milan, Italy and stayed in a beautiful courtyard-style apartment with friends. In terms of my time in Clermont-Ferrand, a lot of nights were spent exploring different restaurants, cafes and bars that were always very welcoming to us. In fact, we were the first Americans a lot of those people had met,” said Connor Breen, a junior IE major. “Also, one of my favorite things to do right before class was to go to this little Boulangerie (Bakery), where I got to practice a little French and try a different pastry everyday. I can go on and on about the big adventures and the little ones but the most important aspect of the trip that made it all worth it was being able to completely step out of my comfort zone and immerse myself in a different culture with a great group of friends for 6 weeks!”
Along with building connections and memories with fellow Industrial Engineering students, students were also able to immerse themselves in European culture while taking courses that counted towards their degrees. Stay tuned for further updates on future IE trips and activities!