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Three Engineering Students Serve as Teaching Assistants at UC's Chinese Partner, CQU

UC engineering students Alyssa Kaine, Brandon Michaud and Desiree Sanchez are returning to UC after spending their spring semester at teaching assistants at Chongqing University.

Date: 5/12/2014
By: Erin Cohen
Phone: (513) 556-4535
Photos By: Desiree Sanchez and Alyssa Kaine
College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) students Alyssa Kaine, Brandon Michaud and Desiree Sanchez are returning to the University of Cincinnati after spending their spring semester in Chongqing, China. As a part of their cooperative education, the students served as teaching assistants (TAs) at CEAS’ partner school, Chongqing University (CQU).

Brandon, Alyssa, and Desiree at Jiefangbei
Brandon, Alyssa and Desiree at Jiefangbei



As TAs, Alyssa, Brandon and Desiree assisted professors with labs and grading. They held office hours for CQU students and were available 24/7 via WeChat to answer any questions CQU students may have had regarding the material the students were studying. The TAs also interacted with students outside of the classroom, participating in activities that taught the Chinese students about the American culture.

Being a TA has been an unforgettable experience for Alyssa Kaine: “It has been great spending time with students outside of the classroom whether we are grabbing dinner or going to hike a mountain. I loved meeting all of them and when they come to UC, I will treat them with all of the kindness they have shown me here in China. I can't wait to show them everything Cincinnati has to offer. I can't stress enough how intelligent, thoughtful, kind and selfless the students are. They've made my experience here in Chongqing so amazing, and I am so grateful that I was able to get to know such amazing people."

Alyssa advises future TAs to “be open to anything and everything. Be prepared to eat squid and smell some of the weirdest smells in the world. If you are looking into this opportunity, get ready to embrace everything you can while you're here. This is a once in a lifetime chance and the more you submerge yourself in all things China, the more you'll get out of it.”

From this experience, Brandon Michaud learned to take chances and try new things. He advises future TAs to be prepared to jump out of their comfort zones, be ready to compromise, to be flexible, and most importantly, to have fun. “It's an amazing experience, and you can't let the small negatives ruin this fantastic opportunity,” states Brandon.

Brandon believes he has grown from his experience. He sees himself as a more prepared leader and more apt to handle future situations. Brandon expressed that putting himself outside his comfort zone has improved his professional self and has made him a better employee.

Being a TA for JCI (Joint Engineering Co-op Institute)  has also been a rewarding experience for Desiree Sanchez. She has broadened her interpersonal and communication skills and gained a sense of independence from her experience. She feels honored to help establish the foundation between UC and CQU by being part of the first group of JCI TAs.

Desiree advises future TAs to “have an open mind with no expectations, and you will never be disappointed.”

CQU Students
CQU students



CEAS partnered with CQU to introduce the first mandatory cooperative engineering education program in China, named the Joint Engineering Co-op Institute (JCI). The final agreement between the two institutions was signed on Oct. 11, 2013, and included a $1 million start-up grant from CQU. UC expects the alliance to generate $10 million in tuition revenue.

There are approximately 70 electrical and mechanical engineering students enrolled in the JCI program. The programs curriculum is identical to that of UC CEAS. For academic years one through four, JCI students study with internationally recognized UC faculty. In year five, JCI students will enroll in the same UC courses as traditional CEAS students, on UC's campus. JCI students will experience cooperative learning for five semesters at leading and multinational corporations in China.

Alyssa Kaine, Brandon Michaud and Desiree Sanchez have documented their personal and academic experience through blogs. To read about their experiences, please click here.