Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, recently announced a new mechanical engineering degree program that combines academic study with Peace Corps service.
Students in the program, which will begin in the fall of 2009, start on the Michigan Tech campus with classroom and research work, like other master's degree candidates. But after completing most of the academic part, the students embark on a 2-year stint in the Peace Corps. Upon completion of the Peace Corps service, the volunteers (as Peace Corps participants are called) return to Michigan Tech for one more semester.
Bill Predebon, who chairs Michigan Tech's mechanical engineering department, believes that mechanical engineering and the Peace Corps are a good fit, since "many Peace Corps projects, such as pumps and indigenous energy systems, demand mechanical engineering skills." The university offers five other combined academic/Peace Corps programs in applied science education, civil and environmental engineering, forestry, mitigation of natural geological hazards, and rhetoric and technical communication.
The Peace Corps Web site has a full list of these study-and-serve programs, called Peace Corps Master's International, in the United States. Many of the programs offered are in scientific and engineering disciplines.
Hat tip: Inside Higher Ed