Last spring, Phillip Badger, a senior in materials science & engineering, spent a memorable five months studying at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. “This was a very rare opportunity,” says Badger. “Tsinghua is a top university in China. It is known as the MIT of China.”

Badger went abroad as part of the Engineering International Exchange Program at the University of Utah College of Engineering. The College has partnered with top engineering schools in China, India, Korea and Germany to offer students an opportunity to study engineering in a foreign country while remaining on schedule to graduate from their home institution. The program allows students to expand their foreign language technical vocabulary, prepare to work in the global engineering community, and understand engineering from an international perspective.

Studying in China allowed Badger—who had learned Mandarin while serving a two-year LDS mission to Taiwan—to increase his ability to speak, read and write Chinese. “I was really overwhelmed at first,” says Badger. “But after spending hours a day with my dictionaries to understand engineering concepts in Chinese, I ended up with A’s and B’s.”

Badger is the first student to take advantage of the international exchange program at Tsinghua University. He even ran a half-marathon that included the Great Wall. “I would have missed the opportunity to go to Tsinghua if I weren’t at the U because few schools have that kind of arrangement, says Badger. “The U offers a lot of great opportunities for students.”