April 24, 2009 -Richard Schmidt isn't just an advocate for internationalization at the University of Wyoming.
He is, say colleagues, a champion of the cause.
"Dick has an earnest, longstanding and productive commitment to developing opportunities for international study and collaboration," says Rob Ettema, dean of UW's College of Engineering and Applied Science. "He both enjoys developing these opportunities and is an articulate proponent of the multiple benefits they provide students, faculty, staff and other people who are diversely connected with the university."
Schmidt's work to bridge cultural and language barriers on campus has earned him the 2009 Faculty Award for Internationalization. The award was established in 2001 by the UW International Board of Advisers to recognize excellence in promoting international activities at the university.
A professor in the UW Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering since 1998, Schmidt has been "the driving force" toward internationalization in the College of Engineering and Applied Science, says former dean and mechanical engineering professor Ovid A. "Gus" Plumb.
In addition to his work with students in the classroom, Schmidt has founded the International Engineering Club, of which he serves as faculty adviser; established the International Engineering Program, which has led to bilateral exchange agreements between UW and universities in Belgium, France, Germany and Guatemala; and initiated a UW chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a service organization that partners with communities across the world to develop sustainable solutions to technical problems.
The local EWB chapter completed its first service project, the construction of a vocational-technical school in the village of Chocomuc, Guatemala, during the 2007-08 academic year.
"Although, as dean, I was very supportive of international activities for engineering and computer science students, the college would not have any of these programs in place had it not been for the vision, the energy, the creativity and the enthusiasm of Professor Schmidt," says Plumb. "He has been the faculty champion for these activities and has successfully gotten others, faculty and students, interested and involved."
Adds Garth Massey, former director of International Studies at UW, "I cannot think of another example of a faculty member's efforts that match what Dick has done for our students' global education."
Schmidt is a graduate of the University of Kansas, where he earned a B.S. in both business administration and civil engineering (1977), an M.S. in civil engineering (1982) and a Ph.D. in civil engineering (1986).