Chalmers and Penn State Collaborate with Global Student Team Projects

Published August 9th by Edith Malmberg, SIREUS

Global Student Team concept provides valuable experiences to students at Penn State and Chalmers

Today, global cooperation between universities is vital to ensure knowledge exchange between students and to conduct cutting-edge research in various fields. Collaboration allows researchers and academics to share their findings, data, and expertise, leading to a greater understanding of different subjects as well as accelerating the pace of discovery. International university cooperation also fosters innovation and helps address global challenges collectively. SIREUS’ member, Chalmers University of Technology (hereafter “Chalmers”), and affiliate, Pennsylvania State University (hereafter “Penn State”), have implemented a Global Student Team concept that allows engineering students from the US and Sweden to collaborate on industry projects.
Gaining work experience in multicultural and global team projects is an important milestone for many young students in the beginning of their careers. The Global Student Team concept between Chalmers and Penn State aims to provide students with non-travel international designed experience that replicates industry experience. To give the students industry specific experiences, the Global Student Teams are united by a carefully tailored corporate project. The students are able to interact with each other through regular communication via email, video calls and teleconferences. Students also interact with the global corporate project sponsor, gaining valuable industry contacts.

These collaborative projects between Penn State and Chalmers give students valuable experience working in multinational corporate engineering teams to develop specific design solutions. This year marks the ninth iteration of cooperative projects between the two universities. During the spring of 2023, five projects were completed with 24 students participating from each University. The projects focused on cooperation within system technology, surveillance and maritime technology with corporate project sponsors such as Volvo Group (Penta and GTO North America) and AstaZero.

Why global University Collaboration matters

​​​​​Global university collaborations equip students with essential skills, cultural awareness, and adaptability to navigate the challenges of the global economy and foster successful global teamwork. With these kinds of collaborations, students are given the opportunity to work together in a global context which gives them valuable practical experience within their areas of study. The students are provided with the opportunity to work in multinational, global, and culturally diverse teams. With collaborations of these kinds, students are also given the opportunity to develop the ability to plan, organize and communicate with world-ranging teams, effectively leveraging information and communication technologies. Students get to learn about other cultures and work internationally, building a global contact network. This could especially be proven valuable for American students who are not as regularly exposed to other languages and countries as their European counterparts tend to be.

In this specific case, Chalmers and Penn State are collaboratively giving their engineering students a valuable first step into the global industrial world. As corporations seek engineers who can navigate the complexities of the global economic and engineering landscape, it becomes imperative for engineering education to adapt and prepare graduates for the challenges of the modern workforce.
Student collaborationStudent collaboration
Photo: Susanne Walström /

Several collaborative projects proven successful

The global teams with American and Swedish students cooperating have proven to be remarkably successful and sustainable as they have been running for nine consecutive rounds with about 140 students participating from both universities. This substantial number reflects the high level of interest and commitment from both sites. Student surveys have revealed an overwhelming appreciation for the opportunities presented by collaborating internationally to tackle technically challenging industrial problems. The students involved have expressed their satisfaction with the enriching experiences gained through these projects. Both professors and industry sponsors attest that the global teams' technical solutions and skill development rival those of the highest performing co-located domestic teams. This is evidenced by multiple prestigious project awards over the years.

In 2020 the project Solar wharf garage with Volvo Penta earned the Lockheed Martin Best Project Award for best project at Penn State. Read more about the concept and award here. This was repeated in 2023 when the project Automated fence surveillance by the use of drones at AstaZero also was awarded the Best Project Award. The objective of this project was to use a DJI Mavic Enterprise drone to detect any breaks or damage to the fencing at the AstaZero autonomous vehicle testing facility outside Gothenburg. Students at Chalmers and Penn State worked together to automate the drone's path along the fence and identify possible breaches by using image recognition. A line detection software was created using Python and the openCV programming library. The code then isolates the fence in the captured drone video and flags potential gaps in the fence. By implementing and further refining this project, AstaZero employees will save an average of 2 hours each month in travel-time around the facility as well as prevent any injuries while walking around the 8–10-kilometer fence. Read more about the project here.

Mikael Enelund, Professor of Dynamics, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences at Chalmers University reflects on the success of the cooperative projects with Penn State:

“The collaboration with Penn State has proven to be exceptionally successful and enjoyable. The developed joint capstone model has demonstrated its viability and offers numerous advantages, particularly for the students that are trained to solve industrial problems in a global context and gained experience in global collaboration. Additionally, the industry has shown great appreciation and support for the projects, recognizing them as valuable contributions that prepare the students to be "work-ready". Furthermore, this collaboration has fostered increased collaboration among the faculty, resulting in joint publications and a vibrant exchange of ideas. Education managers have also benefited from this partnership, as it provides them with a unique opportunity to benchmark and learn from each other's educational practices.”

Swedish-American University Collaboration

​​​​​​​The collaboration between Penn State and Chalmers is one of many examples of successful cooperative projects between Swedish and American universities, exemplifying how bilateral collaboration within academia can foster innovation, research and knowledge exchange that benefits both faculty and students. The SIREUS network encompasses 13 Swedish universities and 10 American affiliate universities. As the SIREUS project strives to facilitate Trans-Atlantic knowledge exchange we aim to give partner universities access to valuable contacts within academia and research in both the United States and Sweden.


The 5 collaborative projects during the spring of 2023 were:

1. Fuel cell model integrated with vehicle cooling system and battery, Volvo Group (GTO) North America

2. Hard top airfoil system, Volvo Group (Penta)

3. Pentaverse, Volvo Group (Penta)

4. Automate the video documentation of a Euro NCAP test by use of drones, AstaZero
5. Automated fence surveillance by use of drones, AstaZero

Solar wharf garage project with Volvo Penta

​​​​​​​In 2020 the project "Solar wharf garage" with Volvo Penta earned the Lockheed Martin Best Project Award at Penn State University.

Read more about the concept and award here.

Automated fence surveillance with AstaZero

Chalmers and Penn State students collaborated to automate a drone's path and identify breaches with image recognition. The project won the Lockheed Martin Best Project Award 2023. 

Read more about the project here.

Professor Mikael Enelund, Chalmers University of Technology