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Freshman Program To Germany: An Introduction To German Engineering

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Preparing Engineering Students for International Practice

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Page Count


Page Numbers

13.628.1 - 13.628.9



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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 Kentucky, College of Engineering, in 2006 in order to start and establish a German 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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G. Lineberry University of Kentucky

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G.T. Lineberry is Associate Dean for Commonwealth and International Programs and Professor of Mining
Engineering, University of Kentucky. Dr. Lineberry received his BS and MS degrees from Virginia Tech and his PhD degree from West Virginia University, all in Mining Engineering. He is author/coauthor of over 60 journal articles, conference proceedings, government reports, and book chapters, and was a section coordinator and
contributor to the SME Mining Engineering Handbook (2nd ed).

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

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. 10.18260/1-2--3988

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