Guiomar Obregon is no stranger to the challenges of arriving in the U.S. as a an international student.
Even though she’s had American citizenship since her birth in Boston, the situation hits home for the co-founder of Precision 2000, the award-winning Atlanta construction firm she started with her husband, Carlos Sanchez.
They both came to Atlanta from Bogota, Colombia, to further their engineering education at Georgia Tech in the early 1990s. It wasn’t always easy to persuade employers of the value of their Colombian degrees.
To change perceptions and boost opportunities for promising students, the Georgia Tech alums since 2006 have welcomed civil engineering undergrads from Colombian universities for a hands-on internship in Atlanta during their final year of studies. Precision 2000 benefits from their work, while the interns gain experience that sets them apart back home.
More than 20 students from the Escuela Colombiana de Ingenieria (Ms. Obregon’s alma mater) and the National University of Colombia have already completed the internship, but Precision 2000 has long known that its support for these young people could be taken to the “next level.”
“Some of them said they would like to study more and asked, ‘How can I go to Georgia Tech?’ But it’s too expensive,” Ms. Obregon told Global Atlanta.
As Precision 2000 celebrates its 20th anniversary, Ms. Obregon and Mr. Sanchez this month announced the creation of a $40,000 fellowship in the Georgia Tech School of Building Construction.
Upon gaining admission to Georgia Tech and the school, Colombian students can apply for the fellowship, which will be awarded in four annual increments of $10,000. Perhaps even more significantly, fellows qualify for in-state tuition, the one key factor in putting post-graduate education within financial reach for many, Ms. Obregon said.
Daniel Castro, a professor and chair of the school, also hails from Colombia and called the fellowship “a cornerstone for Colombian students coming to Georgia Tech in pursuit of a graduate degree in construction management.”
“We are grateful for the generosity of Precision 2000, Inc.,” he said in a statement.
Ms. Obregon said that many of her interns will likely be the ones that go on to pursue the Tech master’s program. Preference will be given to graduates of the universities already sending interns and to applicants with existing internship experience in the U.S.
That’s the case with the first fellow, Mauricio Cepeda, a civil engineer from the national university, who was selected as the fellowship’s first beneficiary after applying last June. He’s now enrolled at Georgia Tech.
Interested applicants should contact the School of Building and Construction at https://bc.gatech.edu.