2010 Marks 20th Anniversary for Georgia Tech Lorraine

As Georgia Tech approaches its 125th anniversary in October, the Institute’s campus in Metz, France, is already marking a distinctive milestone: 20 years of technological education and research in an international setting.

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Georgia Tech and France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) partnered in April 2009 to create a joint international research unit (unité mixte internationale — UMI) to focus on telecommunications and innovative materials research. The UMI will be based at the GT Lorraine campus in Metz, France. From left are GT-Lorraine President Yves Berthelot, Georgia Tech Provost Gary Schuster, Professor and UMI Director Abdallah Ougazzaden (standing), and Sylvain Allano.

Georgia Tech-Lorraine (GTL), established as Tech’s first international campus in 1990, started as a master’s degree program in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. In two decades, it has grown into much more than just a study-abroad experience and an enhancement to the Institute’s International Plan, says GTL President Yves Berthelot.

“[It] is a full-fledged Georgia Tech campus, with fully integrated activities in undergraduate and graduate education, research and technology transfer, including multi-million dollar research contracts and state-of-the-art facilities,” said Berthelot, also a professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering. “GTL is a full-fledged partnership between French and American institutions, and between Lorraine and Georgia, which helps create opportunities for transatlantic R&D funding and business development.”

The campus shares a technology park with several research agencies, enabling both graduate and undergraduate students to have research opportunities. Mechanical engineering, electrical and computer engineering and computer science students can work on their capstone projects. “There are great opportunities for students to work and conduct research in a multidisciplinary field,” said GTL communications officer John Schuman.

GTL’s 20th anniversary celebration kicks off with prizes and giveaways at the Feb. 26 Georgia Tech women’s basketball game against the University of North Carolina. The game starts at 6:30 p.m.

The French campus had a banner year in 2009, receiving a record number of applications for the popular summer study-abroad program. “This year, we have improved upon those numbers with more than 300 applications and 220 students enrolled for summer 2010,” Schuman said. “We also are expecting double the number of students for fall enrollment from 2009.”

GTL enables a major international collaboration between the Atlanta campus and the preeminent European research agencies, Centre National De La Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), through the arm of the international mixed unit (UMI) here in the United States. “This fosters the exchange of students, faculty and ideas that benefit the global Tech enterprise,” Berthelot said.

For the coming year, GTL is projected to increase the number of students in the master’s program through the support of fellowships with Michelin and Schlumberger. In June, Georgia Tech and CNRS are expected to sign a four-year contract for the GT-CNRS UMI International Research Laboratory. “We are also working closely with French authorities on the La Fayette Institute, a large-scale project—a new building, clean room and research equipment—for innovation and technology transfer in the area of optoelectronics, in cooperation with the Nanotechnology Research Center and the Enterprise Innovation Institute,” Berthelot said.

Starting in the fall, students will have entrée into China through GTL. “We’ve also just launched a master’s program for ECE students in conjunction with the Atlanta campus and GT-Shanghai,” Schuman said. “Students would spend fall in Atlanta, spring in Lorraine and the summer in Shanghai. At the conclusion of the 12-month program, the students would not only earn a master’s degree from Tech, but also enjoy a truly global educational experience.” And the program cost is anywhere from 20 to 49 percent less than if the students had earned their master’s degree on the Atlanta campus alone. In fact, one of the big draws for GTL is its affordability.

In June, President Bud Peterson will visit the Metz campus for the first time, and in December the French consulate in Atlanta will partner with Georgia Tech to host a two-week event in conjunction with fall commencement.

The campus started as a School of Electrical and Computer Engineering master’s degree program in 1990. Since then, the campus has expanded to provide master’s degrees in mechanical engineering and computer science. Students attending French institutions can also earn a dual degree through GTL. In 2001, GTL began offering an undergraduate program. Today, more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students and 100 faculty members have spent at least one semester on the Metz campus.

For the immediate future, Berthelot says, GTL remains well-positioned for continued growth and success in innovation, research and global education opportunities. “Many consider GTL as the model of what a U.S. technological research university presence in Europe should be,” Berthelot said. “We have created a node in the heart of Europe where Georgia Tech is plugged into a network of excellence in education and R&D.”