La Semaine, a regional print and web magazine in the Grand Est, spoke with Georgia Tech-Europe president, Abdallah Ougazzaden, to learn more about Tech's European campus, its students, and programs. 

“Georgia Tech’s European campus in Metz, France has emerged as the go to destination for students looking for a once-in-a lifetime campus abroad experience while discovering Europe,” said Georgia Tech-Europe (GTE) president, Abdallah Ougazzaden, speaking to La Semaine, a French regional magazine. The magazine recently published an article on the arrival of the summer cohort.

Ougazzaden explained that the program is in growth mode, with the Metz campus welcoming 785 students in 2022 as opposed to 730 students in 2019 before the pandemic.

This summer, Georgia Tech-Europe is hosting just over 400 students, a record for the campus! High demand is a good problem, and GTE rented additional classroom space at CentraleSupélec, a nearby partner school for GTE’s dual-degree master’s program, reserving additional rooms in local student residence halls to accommodate everyone.

At Georgia Tech-Europe, students take Georgia Tech courses, taught in English, with most courses taught by Georgia Tech faculty, both visiting and permanent. Ougazzaden told La Semaine that, “The academic program matches what you would find on the Atlanta campus, but outside of the coursework it’s a different story! The goal is to stimulate students’ curiosity and creativity to get them to think differently. Our students are tomorrow’s decision makers, and it's important to equip them with more than just a solid academic foundation. We bring them beyond this foundation so that they have the tools to develop solutions to tomorrow’s challenges.”

Ougazzaden’s comments are timely, as developing global leaders dovetails with the Georgia Institute of Technology’s strategic plan. One of the plan's key focus areas is to “Connect Globally,” and developing Georgia Tech-Europe programming and facilities while striving to make the program accessible to all students is an important step in furthering this goal.

Beyond their coursework, GTE students have access to well-programmed activities that help them relax and expand their minds. Throughout the semester, the school organizes game nights, cooking workshops, visits to museums, concerts, and other local cultural events. Said Ougazzaden, “The goal is to connect students to worlds they might not have even known existed.”

Students are in class four days a week, giving them long weekends to travel independently throughout Europe. As soon as classes are finished for the week, students jump on night trains or inexpensive European flights, to experience as much of Europe as they can.

Last year’s summer cohort was lucky to receive a visit from Georgia Tech president, Ángel Cabrera. President Cabrera accompanied GTE students to the American Cemetery in Saint-Avold, just outside of Metz, where they commemorated the heroism of ten American Georgia Tech students who lost their lives during World War I and World War II and are buried in American cemeteries in France. They laid a wreath at the grave of Rupert E. Barnett, Jr. who perished during World War II. President Cabrera was so moved that he declared that each year on D-Day (June 6th), Georgia Tech-Europe would remember and honor those Georgia Tech students whose lives were tragically cut short in in France while in service to their country.

Ougazzaden explained to La Semaine that, “June 6th is an important day of commemoration for our school. This year we planted a magnolia tree on the Metz campus. The magnolia is the most emblematic tree in Atlanta and Georgia Tech-Europe’s magnolia will stand as a symbol of longevity and courage.”

This led to a discussion on Georgia Tech-Europe's strong commitment to sustainability. GTE offers a French immersion program focused on sustainability in the fall semester. Students at an intermediate level in French or above can participate in the Serve-Learn-Sustain France Program to learn about everything from waste-management to renewable energy, all while improving their French language skills by volunteering with local organizations in Metz.

No matter where their semester takes them, students return to Atlanta transformed. Ougazzaden noted that, “Surveys confirm that students who travel, study, and live in a country other than their own are more likely to succeed in their studies.”

The exchanges work both ways – during the spring and fall semesters, students from all over the world participate in GTE’s dual-degree master’s program. Georgia Tech-Europe partners with close to thirty prestigious partner institutions in Europe and North Africa, with students receiving a master’s degree from both their home school and Georgia Tech. After studying on the Europe campus, master’s students have the option of finishing their studies on Tech’s Atlanta campus.

The Georgia Tech-Europe program also benefits the Grand Est region. Over 400 students arrived in Metz this summer, and often their families join them at some point to travel, bringing even more visitors to Metz and beyond. Students return home as ambassadors for the region. As GTE president Abdallah Ougazzaden sees it, “their participation ensures global visibility for the region,” and with over 12,000 students having studied at Georgia Tech-Europe since it opened its doors in 1990, that is quite a few ambassadors!