Going global: LTU’s worldwide partnership count passes 30 universities

By: Jessica Strachan | Southfield Sun | Published August 28, 2013

 Nigerian student Azubike Ononye, a graduate from the architecture program at LTU, poses in front of the international flags inside the Buell Management Building on campus.

Nigerian student Azubike Ononye, a graduate from the architecture program at LTU, poses in front of the international flags inside the Buell Management Building on campus.

Photo by Deb Jacques


SOUTHFIELD — Lagos is the most populous city in Nigeria and rapidly expanding, but 23-year-old native Azubike Ononye knew his vision and practice as an architect-in-training would be even better if he could see the way worlds were constructed outside of his own. 

After earning his undergraduate degree in architecture in Ghana, he made the choice to come to America to attend Lawrence Technological University for his masters in architecture.

“The size of the school was a big deal. I am quite curious; I want to know more. I’m coming from a background that I couldn’t really learn more because I was limited only what my professors knew back in Africa,” Ononye, who graduated in May, said. “LTU is a small school so the professor-to-student relationship is much better than other schools. I can stop the whole class when I have a question.”

Because of his experience at LTU, he even landed a job and is now an architectural intern in Northville while he prepares to take his qualifying exam.

Ononye is one of the 425 students who benefit from LTU’s extensive international program, with around 150 new international students coming for the fall semester, according to the Office of Student Affairs. It’s estimated that close to 50 degree-seeking students at LTU took part in some globetrotting of their own this past academic year, according to Lisa Kujawa, assistant provost for enrollment management.

The school has a heavy interest in international ties with other universities around the globe, and those programs are continually growing.

With one year under his belt, Virinder Moudgil, the university’s seventh president, has continued to strengthen those relationships and forge several new ones since last summer.

Growing partnerships

Earlier this year, LTU signed new agreements with universities in Germany, China and Brazil, and now has academic partnership agreements with more than 30 universities around the world.

While visiting Turkey in early June as part of a Michigan delegation, Moudgil signed a three-year exchange agreement with Bahcesehir University in Istanbul, Turkey. 

The signed memorandum clears the way for student and faculty exchanges and the development of joint degree and certificate programs.

According to LTU Spokesman Eric Pope, Bahcesehir University has developed a reputation as one of Turkey’s leading private universities, including ties with American universities and a campus in Washington, D.C.

Moudgil said offering a program to LTU students in Turkey is very beneficial and strategic.

“Turkey stands at the historic crossroads where East and West meet, and it is a perfect place to see how the people from different cultures and beliefs can work together in the global economy,” he said in the announcement June 20.

On April 30, LTU added North China University of Technology in Beijing to its list of Chinese partnerships. Hosting vice president on LTU’s campus, two agreements were signed with LTU Provost Maria Vaz that allow Chinese students to earn master’s degrees from LTU in architecture or interior design.

“These two agreements extend the reach of our master’s degree programs in architecture and interior design, which already enjoy a good reputation in China,” Vaz said. “North China University of Technology is well known for the high quality of its students, and we look forward to welcoming more Chinese students to our campus.”

According to Vaz, the two universities plan to extend the agreement to cover degree programs in LTU’s College of Engineering. “We have started a conversation to accomplish that goal soon,” she added.

Also in June, LTU and the Maua Institute of Technology in San Paulo, Brazil created a partnership to bring Brazilian students to the Southfield campus to study mechanical engineering for one year.

Both are private universities, similar in size, and hope to extend to arrangement to civil and electrical engineering, along with mechatronics.

During the past academic year, LTU hosted 18 students from Brazil who have scholarships to study in the U.S. through the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program. Under the new agreement, if a Brazilian student can’t take advantage of that program, LTU will provide a $10,000 scholarship for one year.

“The demand from Brazilian students who want international exposure is growing,” IMT Dean of Engineering Marcello Nitz said during a recent visit at LTU. “We have been looking for reputable universities in the United States, and I’ve heard from the Brazilian students that they like it (at LTU).”

It was Dean of Engineering Nabil Grace who signed the agreement for LTU for this university. He said partnerships in the industry are especially important.

“The global economy often requires engineers to cooperate across international borders, so we continue to expand our interaction with universities in other countries.”

New global vision

LTU is also trying new types of collaborative efforts to strengthen its global focus.

A partnership with the German Würth Foundation has a special opportunity in the works, which will offer four degree program to German students: doctor of engineering in manufacturing systems, doctor of business administration, master of business administration and master of science in industrial engineering.

All of the courses will be taught in English with half being taught on LTU’s campus and half taught in Germany by German instructors who will be adjunct faculty of LTU. The degree program will also be open to American students.

Instruction will begin in the summer and fall of 2014, except for the doctor of business administration, which starts in 2015.

Last week, LTU also kicked off its first Global Village Project, a week-long program to promote understanding and dialogue between international and American students.

Moudgil initiated the program, which ran Aug. 19-23, and it was free and open to the campus community.

“I truly believe that coming together to discuss and learn from our similarities and differences is what makes us a great people,” he said. Moudgil emigrated from India as a student to pursue a career in medical research in the U.S. “We will explore the richness of our traditions and history, learn what unites us, and through this dialogue, we can promote global understanding.”

Activities included field trips to local cultural institutions, such as the Henry Ford Museum, Detroit Institute of Arts, and to a Detroit Tigers baseball game.

Themed discussions and reflections, as well as international cuisine for dinner, rounded out each day.

Ononye said his goal is to one day go back to his family in Nigeria, but for now, he’s using taking advantage of his time abroad, taking in all he can. He’s decided his favorite architecture is British; Chicago street ways are too narrow for his liking; he wants to see if New York City is really how it seems in the movies; and Milwaukee is the next place he’d like to travel.

“I’m glad I went to Lawrence Tech. You’re not just learning theory; you’re actually doing it,” he said. “I think it’s important for people to get out of wherever they grow up. The exposure increases your scope of creativity, especially for architecture.”

For more information on study abroad programs at LTU, visit ww.ltu.edu.