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Tue, 05/27/2014 - 9:30am

An influx of STEM leaders from abroad visit Oregon through the International Visitor Program

News | International Visitors
Photo: Hannah O'Leary

A look inside a recent visit by ten women working in the sciences that came to Oregon as part of the World Affairs Council of Oregon’s International Visitor Program.

The women filed into the conference room at Intel’s Jones Farm campus, elated to be inside one of the leading technology companies in the world and equally curious to meet some of the women who are working on the frontlines. The ten visitors participating in the program focused on Women’s Innovations in Science and Engineering hailed from ten different countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Nepal, Oman, the Palestinian Territories, Sudan, and Uzbekistan. Each woman had been identified as a leader in her country in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and selected to participate in the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) that is putting an increasing emphasis on women and the sciences, and identifying areas of the country with a thriving scientific community. 

The visitors met with women working in science and technology at Intel on the second day of their visit to Oregon. While at Intel, they discussed the strides women are making in technology and science, the Intel STEM Education Foundation, and women’s contributions to technology. The representatives of Intel shared how the company strives to bring in more women and influence change in the industry. Before breaking for lunch, each visitor presented their background and field of research, as well as specific challenges they face as a woman in the sciences. As they departed, they echoed thanks for the opportunity to hear and share with fellow women scientists, as well as gain insight that they can take back home with them.

To gain an institutional perspective, the group spent the previous day at Oregon State University (OSU), meeting with researchers and scientists, exploring the campus facilities, and engaging in a lively discussion about topics such as research, family, women, science, and engineering. “We could have gone on all day,” said Charlotte Moats-Gallagher, International Initiatives Associate at OSU.

The exchange at OSU demonstrates the opportunities for cross-pollination that the program has established. The World Affairs Council of Oregon works to connect visitors with valuable partners across Oregon and the university seizes the opportunity to enact its campus-wide internationalization strategy. “Having that many women from that many countries with that many skills generates a flurry of ideas that fits perfectly within the mission of internationalization for the campus,” said Moats-Gallagher. “These visitors represent pipelines of possible research collaboration, our students going to their countries or institutions, and their students coming here.” After the networking lunch, the students branched off to explore the campus and its science facilities.

The extensive facilities and community working at the forefront of research at OSU is one draw for national programs to send visitors to Oregon. “The primary work attracting international attention is related to survival: growing food, water, healthcare - things people are directly concerned about,” said Nick Houtman, Assistant Director of Research Communications. Houtman edits Terra, a magazine that covers international research and collaborations abroad. “The university attracts researchers because they have an opportunity to have an impact and make a real difference,” said Houtman. 

The World Affairs Council of Oregon’s International Visitor Program brings more than 600 emerging leaders to Oregon each year, connecting each visitor with relevant businesses, organizations, and community leaders throughout the state. This year, the program has seen an influx of technology- and science-focused groups. In addition to the Women’s Innovations in Science and Engineering group, it hosted a Women and STEM group from China in March and a multiregional STEM group in April. For more information about these groups and how to get involved, please contact Amy Barss, Director of International Visitors and Training Programs, at amyatworldoregon [dot] org. See more photos on Flickr of the group at OSU and at Intel.



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