USC iPodia: A “classroom without borders”

Rhea Choudhury Abroad, Rhea, Study, Viterbi Life, Why USC Leave a Comment

Hi guys!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season so far!! I can’t believe it’s already (basically) December, this semester went by so fast. I absolutely love Christmas, so you know I’ve been blasting Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey for the last few weeks straight (also fun fact, Sia dropped a Christmas album?! wHAT?!). LA has a lot of cool Christmas events around, so I went to a tree lighting at the Grove and plan to go ice skating over at LA live after finals. Anyway, I wanted to take a quick post to explain a very unique class I’m taking this semester, and probably one of the coolest classes I’ve been a part of at USC: iPodia.

Technically, the class at USC is called ENGR 345: Principles and Practices of Global Innovation, iPodia is an alliance of schools involved. There are two sections here at USC (my friend and fellow VSA, Jose, is in the other section and wrote a sweet blog about his experience: check it out here! ), and my section meets Tuesdays from 8am-10am. About 10 of us are in the class, but rather than it being just us and the professor, we actually have students from 5 other universities around the world skyping into our lecture. With about 10-20 students at each University, there’s about 50 of us attending lecture at once, representing the US, Germany, Israel, Mexico and Greece. Schools in the other session are in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and Qatar. My classmates are literally students all over the world, so we get to discuss world issues with people directly experiencing them. For example, we had lecture the day of the huge earthquake in Mexico, and got to talk to students about the impact of the earthquake in their communities. Talking about innovation with students from tech hubs in Israel and Germany is so eye-opening, and we truly gain a global perspective from engineering students just like us.

The class is primarily lecture based, but we have had a couple of group projects, with groups spanning the entire world as well. We did a massive consulting case project involving electric car production with our teammates in Germany and Israel, which ended up becoming a very unique, real-world experience. I felt like a working adult, navigating time zones, setting aside time to manage tasks and create deadlines for our team– it seemed like a taste of what working for an international corporation would be like, and I loved it.

iPodia classmates in LA!

This past week, our classmates from Germany and Mexico actually came and visited Los Angeles, exploring USC and LA on their own and attending some company visits and planned tours around the area. We had a few planned activities from USC, but a friend and I actually put together an informal dinner last night to try and get everyone together before they left the US. Almost all of the international students ended up coming, and it grew from a 1 hour chill dinner to a 3 hour discussion, hang out and food session. Turns out, a few of the German students actually spent a year studying at Tsinghua University in Beijing (where I spent the summer after my freshman year), arriving just a few weeks after I left. What a coincidence, right!? It was a ton of fun getting to hang out with a ton of very diverse, interesting, intellectual people, and I left dinner last night with a renewed urge to go out and travel. Some of the USC students in the program are actually visiting our other classmates in Greece this December, unfortunately I’ll be traveling with family at the time so I won’t get to see these wonderful people again :(. However, I’m so so glad I got to spend the last semester working and learning from them, and hope to continue being involved with the course somehow in the future. Meeting the people from our skype screens made the entire course worth it.

ALL IN ALL, I fully recommend iPodia to anyone who a) loves meeting new people with new perspectives b) wants to learn more about global business practices and c) is interested in learning about international project management. It’s such a unique class, and the concept of extended discussion with people with ideas different from yours is something I think every student can grow from. A lot of patience and an open mind are helpful too.

That’s all I have, keep an eye out for a podcast soon on my experience with iPodia!

Happy holidays, and as always, fight on!
Rhea

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