Jason Delosrios and Jonathan Torres are determined to set themselves apart from the crowd one class at a time. Delosrios and Torres are just two of UCF’s many engineering students setting themselves apart from their peers by adding a minor in international engineering on top of the classes required for their major.

“It gives them an advantage in the job seeking process when they are interviewing for positions, especially if they are working for companies that do business overseas,” said College of Engineering and Computer Science professor Avelino Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, who is leading the minor, said a lot of his engineering students tend to opt out of adding a minor in addition to their engineering major, but for those who decide to add one, especially the international engineering minor, it can be very beneficial.

The international engineering minor requires 18-20 credit hours and is comprised of three parts: language skill acquisition, cultural courses and the study abroad experience. Students must take at least six credits of foreign language, a cultural course related to their area of study and at least six hours of coursework related to their degree program abroad.

Delosrios, an electrical engineering graduate student, said his trip to Brazil in 2010 was a life-changing experience.

“I got to experience a different culture and see how people interact around the world,” Delosrios said.

For a semester, he spent his time assisting in projects for the Brazilian research company, Centro de Pesquisas de Energia Elétrica.

“They seem to be a lot more relaxed,” Delosrios said of the company. “The younger employees were very helpful. They took me under their wing.”

More than 6,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, Torres spent his summer semester in Berlin. The senior mechanical engineering major said adding the international minor was worth it.

“It was an incredible opportunity to work at Siemens,” Torres said. The global corporation provides services in the industry, energy and health care sectors.

At Siemens, he worked in manufacturing facilities, seeing how turbines were put together. He said the Berlin location exposed him to more about the engineering corporation because the manufacturing is mostly done overseas.

“I was told that I had been exposed to more than the typical engineer at the Orlando facility because the manufacturing process only takes place in Germany,” Torres said.

Both Torres and Delosrios agreed that adding a minor can make a difference in how future employers consider you.

“It stands out,” Delosrios said. “A lot of these big companies, if they haven’t already, are leaning more toward [developing] international relations.”

Delosrios also said that while attending a career fair, recruiters were quick to notice his international experience.

“All the questions that are used in an interview, they want to see someone who can understand different cultures, who can understand different people’s ideas and how they go about doing things,” Delosrios said. “It makes you a more valuable asset to the company.”

Gonzalez said that students who go abroad in the international engineering minor tend to have more self-confidence and aggressiveness to excel in their field when they return.

“It also benefits them tremendously from a cultural standpoint because it allows them to understand how other people live, how other people work and how other people think beyond the boundaries of the U.S.,” Gonzalez said.

Torres, who also studied abroad in Spain in 2009, said his minor has done much more than just given him international experience.

“I made life-long friendships in a matter of months,” Torres said. “Whenever I go to Europe, I basically have a place to stay.”

Delosrios also had a good experience with his fellow employees.

Torres said that in addition to getting different perspectives on things from different people and learning about the outside world, recruiters look for people who are willing to step outside their comfort zone when looking for potential employees.

“I’ve done a couple interviews and they have always noted that having a minor is not a common thing,” Torres said. “It really sets you apart. With the experience, it really is a foot in the door.”

Source: Central Florida Future, Engineers study abroad, by Brandon Hamilton, contributing writer. Published: Wednesday, March 2, 2011, updated: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 17:03