Jan Helge Bøhn, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has received the university's 2015 Alumni Award for Excellence in International Outreach.

Sponsored by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in International Outreach is presented annually to a faculty or staff member who has had a significant impact on international outreach at Virginia Tech. Recipients are selected based on their contributions to the internationalization of Virginia Tech and the global impact, significance, and sustainability of their work. Recipients are awarded $2,000.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1993, Bøhn has developed an extensive portfolio of education-abroad programs in Germany, Australia, and China that today generate more than 50 student semesters abroad per year.

A long-time advocate for global education, Bøhn successfully proposed that Virginia Tech join Partners for the Advancement of CAD/CAM/CAE Education, or PACE, now known today as Partners for the Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education. The educational program prepares students for the global economy by bringing them together from its global network of 64 leading universities to collaborate with industry partners to solve problems of mutual interest.

For more than a decade, the partnerships that have grown out of the PACE network have provided opportunities for the students within this network, noted Danesh Tafti, the William S. Cross Professor of Mechanical Engineering, but it left out students from smaller programs, including undergraduate students from more than 200 non-doctoral mechanical engineering programs across the United States.

“Prof. Bøhn has operated, with support from the National Science Foundation and in collaboration with Technische Universität Darmstadt in Germany, one of the first international research experiences for undergraduate students in engineering,” wrote Tafti in his letter of nomination is support of Bøhn for this award. “Through this program, he has, over a period of six years, brought nearly 60 undergraduate students from across the U.S. to Germany to participate in a summer of automotive research, embedding each U.S. student individually into a German graduate research team.”

One of the opportunities afforded through the PACE program — and initiated by Bøhn — is a senior design project.

By 2008, the number of global senior design projects within PACE had grown so large that the organization was able to introduce annual global design competitions that brought together teams consisting of mechanical engineering and industrial design students from four to five globally distributed PACE universities.

Each year, these 10 to 15 teams present their work at the PACE Annual Forum, where they are evaluated by a global panel of faculty and industry executives, managers, and practitioners. The July 2015 forum will take place in São Paulo, Brazil.

Bøhn received his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.