June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.628.1 - 13.628.9
Freshman Program to Germany: An Introduction to German Engineering
Many exchange programs within engineering have suffered from low participation rates in the past. The reasons for this have been multi-faceted, but include such factors as lack of language skills, price of programs, concern over time-to-degree, curricular challenges and fear of the unknown.
The University of Kentucky (UK) College of Engineering has developed a program designed for freshmen and possibly sophomore engineering students, which addresses some of these concerns. Beginning in 2007, the College of Engineering took a group of students to Germany for a four-week, intensive Calculus III program that included a German Engineering component. Students stayed with English-speaking host families and completed their coursework in English. The Calculus III class is part of the engineering students’ core curriculum, and fits well into the sequence as a summer class after the freshman year. The German Engineering component, through which students earned two hours of credit, consisted of company visits and discussions with engineers and business leaders.
Following completion of the program, a post-experience survey confirmed that the students would be more willing to work or study abroad in the future, and that they felt more internationally competent and ready to interact with people from other countries and cultures. Students also reported a higher awareness of how other people view them. Three of the eight participants who had no prior German language skills enrolled in German 101 after the tour.
The University Landscape
U.S. universities still struggle with the education of globally competent engineers, some universities more so than others. The University of Kentucky is located in one of the states that is considered to lag behind when it comes to primary, secondary and tertiary education. Thus, for a University in a state that has trouble preparing students for College, the challenge to educate students for the global marketplace seems even more daunting than elsewhere.
The University of Kentucky is the largest higher education institution in the state, currently with about 27,000 students. Over 80 percent of the student population is “in-state.”1 However, as of 2006, the state had the lowest percentage of Bachelor’s or higher degrees in the nation, with 20.2 percent of the population 25 years and older, according to Census Bureau estimates for 2006.2
In 2007, the College conferred 337 undergraduate degrees.3 Engineering suffers from very high attrition rates, and ranks second highest among the sixteen colleges at the University. Only 31 percent of students who start in engineering obtain an engineering degree within six years.4 There are many reasons for the high attrition rate in engineering, such as: (1) a more stringent curriculum that requires a solid basis in sciences and math; (2) lack of spare time for extracurricular and social activities, (3) lack of hands-on engineering projects in students’ first
Balk, I., & Lineberry, G. (2008, June), Freshman Program To Germany: An Introduction To German Engineering Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3988
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