News Release

China Visit Proves Trip of a Lifetime

By Elizabeth Tollefson on
Monday, January 9, 2017

China group photoOpportunities come in many forms and sometimes the best ones are unexpected. University of Minnesota Crookston Senior Alec Koepp and 2016 graduate Timilehin “Tim” Adeniyi worked together to develop a tutorial that explains the step-by-step creation of a 3-D simulation of something real. Using a model created in Sketchup and importing it into Unity to add the animation, the two were able to continue the work of Alumna Mariam Maiga 2009 and 2015. 

Maiga, along with fellow software engineering graduate Shaun Curtis 2016, used the immersive visualization technology in the lab to build a 3D model of Dowell Hall using the building’s blueprints. Adeniyi and Koepp, also software engineering majors, worked under the direction Associate Professor Sameer Abufardeh to “build” on the project started by Maiga and Curtis.

An impending trip to a conference by Abufardeh, International Programs Director Kim Gillette, and Professor Joseph Shostell to visit the American Cultural Center in China provided Adeniyi and Koepp a chance to travel abroad to share their 3-D modeling tutorial. Gillette also serves as the deputy director of the American Cultural Center at Zhejiang Economic and Trade Polytechnic in China. “We visited with government officials, students, and faculty sharing our work and answering questions,” Koepp says. “Tim and I were fortunate to travel to Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong and represent the University of Minnesota Crookston and experience the culture of these cities. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us.”

During the ten days they were traveling, Adeniyi and Koepp spent most of their time with the group but took a day on their own at the Great Wall of China. As a group, their travels focused on possible collaborations between Capital Normal University in Beijing, following up on an articulation agreement in software engineering with Nankai University, Binhai College, and participating in the American Centers for Cultural Exchange Conference in Guangzhou. “It is interesting to note,” says Shostell that Binhai College has some 1000 students in their software engineering program, and it was a great opportunity for students from our campus and Binhai College to interact. They learned a lot from one another.”

Abufardeh presented an overview of the U of M Crookston software engineering program to a group of Chinese students and faculty. At the end of the presentation, Koepp and Adeniyi joined Abufardeh in the front of the classroom to field questions about the Crookston campus. Koepp and Adeniyi asked questions of their own to the Chinese students. Shostell says that the stop at Binhai College was a highlight of the trip.

Tim and Alec at the Great Wall“The Chinese people have such a great sense of community very different from ours, and that is something I have come to really appreciate,” Koepp says.

Koepp came to the University of Minnesota Crookston from Belle Plaine, Minn., to play basketball and major in software engineering. His future holds more international travel as he moves to Montpellier, France, to study computer science and management at Polytech Montpellier. 

Adeniyi moved from his home in Nigeria to New York City when he was ten years old and eventually to Minnesota to study in one or the other of his two passions—aviation or software engineering. “In many ways, Crookston has the same small, hometown feel of the place where I grew up in Nigeria,” Adeniyi says.

He is currently working for the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota and plans to continue his education.  After his experience in China, Adeniyi knows from experience that when an opportunity comes along, he won’t hesitate to take it.

The University of Minnesota Crookston now delivers 34 bachelor's degree programs, 22 minors, and 40 areas of emphasis on campus as well as 14 degree programs entirely online.  These degrees are offered in the areas of agriculture and natural resources; business; liberal arts and education; and math, science and technology.  With an enrollment of 1,800 undergraduates from more than 20 countries and 40 states, the Crookston campus offers a supportive, close-knit atmosphere that leads to a prestigious University of Minnesota degree.  "Small Campus. Big Degree."  To learn more, visit

Photo: Top, right, left to right are Professor Joesph Shostell; Associate Professor Sameer Abufardeh; Kim Gillette, director of International Programs; Timilehin Adeniyi, a 2016 computer software technology graduate; and Alec Koepp, a senior majoring computer software technology who will graduate in May 2017.


Photo, bottom, left, near the Great Wall of China, left to right, are Timilehin Adeniyi and Alec Koepp. 


Elizabeth Tollefson

University Relations


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