PLATTEVILLE, Wis. -- First Asia, now South America -- the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is increasing its global footprint.
A November trip to Brazil by UW-P Chancellor Dennis J. Shields brought the university to the forefront in a program designed to expand the South American country's role in the global economy.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff recently created an initiative to jump-start Brazil's 21st century economy and education system through programs such as Science Without Borders. The goal is to have 100,000 Brazilian undergraduate students studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics spend one year studying abroad, including 75 percent in the United States.
Last year, two students from Brazil studied at UW-P. Shields expects that number to double this year and possibly quadruple for the 2014-2015 academic year.
"It's a real opportunity," Shields said, noting the program is fully funded by the Brazilian government and Brazilian corporate interests. "We think we're a perfect fit."
UW-P's college of Engineering, Mathematics and Science consists of electrical, mechanical, industrial, civil/environmental, computer science, software engineering, chemistry, engineering physics and mathematics.
"So many of our graduates work for Fortune 500 companies that have interest in Brazil," he said. "We want to encourage our students to study abroad as well."
The university, which already has an academic relationship with a sister university in China, is planning a language institute to help train Brazilian students in English by next summer.
"We're probably the point school in the Wisconsin system for developing the program," Shields said.
In November, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities began establishing working relationships with Brazilian universities. Shields and others toured Brazil, meeting with high-level education ministry officials.
In December, UW-P hosted Leucio Camara Alves, director of the International Office at Federal rural De Pernambuco, a federal university in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil.
Brazil will host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. Over the past few years, Brazil has become the fifth-largest economy in the world in gross domestic production and sixth-largest in population.
A recent study projected that Brazil's economy can reach the same size or even larger than Japan's by 2050.
"I think this presents an extraordinary opportunity for us in every way," Shields said. "We will build a connection with a burgeoning economy and present an opportunity for our students to learn more about the world they will be entering."