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Students Travel from India to Complete Penn State Degree

12/3/2008 —

Ten students from Mumbai, India are completing their information sciences and technology (IST) degrees at Penn State York thanks to the fulfillment of an agreement between Penn State and Vidyalankar School of Information Technology in India.  The agreement signed two years ago allows Indian students to take part in a program that combines their first two years of university education in India with their final two years at Penn State York.   This 2 + 2 program is a historic first step in preparing students to work in an international marketplace.  The Vidyalankar School of Information Technology is affiliated with The University of Mumbai. 

 “The 10 students in York are just the beginning.  This program will not only increase the number of international students at Penn State York, it will give our students the opportunity to work alongside future colleagues in the fields of information sciences and technology and to prepare themselves for careers in the global economy of the 21st century,” said Joel M. Rodney, chancellor of Penn State York.  “I’m looking forward to developing similar programs with universities in other countries.”

Students are enrolled at Vidyalankar in a pre-approved series of courses which parallel Penn State’s information sciences and technology curriculum.   Satisfactory completion of this program enables students to apply, transfer to, and enroll at Penn State York for the completion of their bachelor of science degree in IST.

This is not Penn State York’s first connection with India.    Penn State York students, faculty, and staff traveled to India in May 2006.   The India trip was an outgrowth of an information sciences and technology course (IST 440W) taught by Samir Shah, instructor in information sciences and technology at Penn State York.  This collaborative class project was conducted between Penn State York students and The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara, India, (M.S. University) students. The project was sponsored by Unisys - a worldwide information technology consulting services and solutions company and although the students were 9,000 miles apart, both universities completed real world projects for the company.   In addition to the classroom work, students enjoyed many cultural experiences and became more familiar with customs and life in India.  

Shah was recently appointed director of the Penn State India Initiative by John Romano, Penn State’s vice president of commonwealth campuses.   An expansion of this initial agreement is the establishment of a multi-campus, multi-cultural India initiative, which now includes Penn State Commonwealth Campuses:  Schuylkill, Berks, Greater Allegheny, Lehigh Valley, Wilkes-Barre, Worthington Scranton, Hazleton, as well as York.  Plans are under way to include more Indian universities in the initiative and to bring students from other Indian universities and colleges to study at the other partner campuses in the initiative within the next two years. 

An additional 10 Vidyalankar students are expected to participate in the program next year in York, Shah said.  Shah is also working on arrangements that would allow Penn State IST students to study at colleges and universities in India as well as to provide opportunities for faculty exchange.

Shantanu Rajadhyaksha, one of the students at York, said he is adjusting well to life here and to courses at Penn State.

“The program in India is definitely more rigid than the one at Penn State,” he said. “Here, we have the opportunity to take courses outside of IST. That’s something we couldn’t have done there because the courses are already planned out when you enroll in the program … there’s no such thing as making your own schedule.”

As an arts lover, Rajadhyaksha said he particularly enjoys the music and theater courses he is taking this semester. He plans to finish his IST degree at Penn State and hopes to pursue a master of business administration.

“Everyone here has been very friendly and is always ready to help,” said Krupali Desai, one of two female students in the group from India.   A vegetarian, one of Desai’s biggest adjustments to the area has been replacing the Indian food which she misses.  Subway’s “veggie delite” has become a staple in her diet. 

Desai’s favorite class is cognitive psychology.   “I enjoy experimenting on other students for our projects and I also like being the subject for in-class experiments,” she said. 

In addition to her studies, Desai has become a member of the Student Activity Fee Committee on campus.  “It is an honor to be a part of the committee.  I feel like I am a treasurer and everyone has to ask my consent for getting money,” she said with a laugh.  “The committee is quite fair having members from all aspects of the campus. I am enjoying meeting new people and I like being involved.”

In addition to Rajadhyaksha and Desai, other students in the program are Rohan Chitalia, Kashmeera Kundargi, Kiran Mody, Akshaya Naik, Akhil Rane, Ashish Rane, Sayur Shah, and Bhaskar Suryakumar.

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