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Center for International Affairs
Case Western Reserve University
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Congratulations to Dan Lacks, Professor of Chemical Engineering, and 13 graduate engineering students for developing and participating in what the U.S. Department of State recognized as the first U.S. college course in Myanmar.

For the last 50 years the people of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) have experienced violent protests, censorship and the government shut down of major universities. Recently, peaceful and free elections were held and leaders of the Union of Myanmar have been working to rebuild the country’s education system.

As part of a Fulbright program, Dr. Lacks has been assisting one of the top engineering schools in the country, Yangon Technological University (YTU), with curriculum development. He made headlines when he created a two-week intensive course titled “International Engineering Entrepreneurship.” The course included 13 CWRU graduate students and 13 graduate students from YTU and other Myanmar universities working together in an active learning environment, which is not a common teaching style in Myanmar. Communication was an important component of the course as students focused on the intersection of engineering and business, with an emphasis on international perspectives and addressing questions such as: How are businesses different in the US and Myanmar? Why do these differences occur? How do we most effectively interact with people from other cultures to make our ventures more successful? What technical/engineering opportunities exist in Myanmar that are different from the US?

Professor Lacks experienced first-hand the isolation of Myanmar and was able to contribute in a significant way to the reopening of the country and the education system. He summed it up modestly, “Myanmar has been totally closed off from the world for such a long time – it was exciting for our two groups to interact.”