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Fostering International Faculty Collaboration Through Student Exchange Programs With A Research Component

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Faculty & Program Exchanges: Internationalizing, Collaborations, Interactions

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.598.1 - 15.598.7



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Paper Authors


Ilka Balk University of Kentucky

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Ilka Balk, a native of Germany, joined the University of Kentuck⁹s College of Engineering in January of 2006, in order to start and establish a German and Engineering Program. In the fall of 2007, Ilka took on the added responsibility of Director of Cooperative Education. Ilka has lived and worked in Germany and the United States, and has a Masters in Political Science with minors in History and
Communications from the University of Goettingen, Germany.

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John Balk University of Kentucky

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John Balk is an assistant professor of Materials Engineering at the University of Kentucky. Before coming to UK, Dr. Balk was a staff scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, Germany, where he also completed his post-doctoral work. Dr. Balk received his PhD and MS degrees in Materials Science & Engineering from The Johns Hopkins University. He received his BS degree from the University of California, Berkeley, where he double-majored in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering. He has authored over 40 journal articles and conference proceedings, and is faculty advisor to the Material Advantage student chapter at UK.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Fostering International Faculty Collaboration through Student Exchange Programs with a Research Component


In 2006, the College of Engineering at the University of Kentucky began developing an Engineering and German Studies Program, which included both study and work abroad, as well as intensive language immersion options for the College’s students.

Leveraging a new faculty member’s existing connection to German faculty members at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), an exchange program was conceived and then began in the spring of 2007. The program is designed so that, each year, the US institution’s students arrive in Karlsruhe between January and March, and start with a research project that has been formulated by faculty at both institutions. Whenever possible, the US student is paired with a German student who will participate in the reciprocal phase of the exchange program. When the semester begins in Karlsruhe in April, students transition to coursework and either finish their research or decrease their laboratory workload.

The engineering students from Karlsruhe, Germany, come to the University of Kentucky in August to take regular classes in the fall semester. Karlsruhe’s engineering students, who are required to complete a 500-hour research project for their degree, perform some of this research in the fall semester, while also taking classes, and switch to full-time research after final exams. The research completed by the exchange students is a collaborative project between the professors in the United States and Karlsruhe. Because the duration of each student’s time abroad is roughly one and a half semesters, consisting of one academic semester and part of the semester break(s), German and American students overlap at both universities. This interaction occurs both in the classroom and in the laboratory, and facilitates continuity in the research projects.

The students and faculty have enjoyed early success with this arrangement. Two of the collaborative research projects have led to publications in a respected materials science journal. The exchange has also fostered further collaboration between professors on both sides of the Atlantic, resulting in invited seminars and joint proposals. Currently in its third year, the research exchange has grown to six “pairs” of faculty, who are now working together. We will expand this program to include additional faculty as we increase the numbers of student participants.

1. The Exchange Program with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (formerly the University of Karlsruhe)

Balk, I., & Balk, J. (2010, June), Fostering International Faculty Collaboration Through Student Exchange Programs With A Research Component Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16549

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