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Introduction to German Engineering. A Transatlantic Experience

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Study Abroad, International Experience, Exchange Programs and Student Retention

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Page Count


Page Numbers

23.826.1 - 23.826.8



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Paper Authors


Manfred J Hampe Technische Universität Darmstadt

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Hampe studied chemistry and process engineering at TU Clausthal, Germany. Hampe has an engineering doctorate from TU Munich at Germany. Hampe has worked as a process engineer for several years at Bayer AG in Leverkusen at Germany; and professor of thermal process engineering at TU Darmstadt, Germany.

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Jan Helge Bøhn Virginia Tech

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Dr. Jan Helge Bøhn is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech. He received his B.S. in Computer Science, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer and Systems Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, New York, in 1988, 1989, and 1993, respectively. Prof. Bøhn’s research centers about geometric modeling, software engineering, and the engineering design process in a global context.

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David J. Dixon South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Dr. Dixon currently serves as a Professor of Chemical Engineering in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, in Rapid City, South Dakota. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the Technical University Darmstadt in Darmstadt, Germany during the 2009-2010 year. He is a member of ASEE and AICHE and has an active interest in improving engineering education and promoting study abroad opportunities.

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Introduction to German Engineering. A Transatlantic Experience.In June 2012 seven American engineering students from two engineering univer-sities and one American professor crossed the Atlantic to take part in an inter-cultural experience with German first-year engineering students, faculty, industry,and history.The stay abroad lasted three weeks and developed into a rich intercultural ex-perience. During the first week, the American students teamed up with Germanfirst-year students in a fulltime engineering design project: Groups of one or twoAmerican students joined in with German students to form teams of 12 students.The teams were given an open-ended design task: “Design a process and a productthat makes use of the leftover forest biomass from logging operations.” Studentteams were closely supervised by a tutor from engineering for technical issuesand a graduate student from psychology for team collaboration issues. The atmo-sphere in the team mimicked the German way of conducting teamwork. After oneweek of hard work, the student teams were able to present an array of surprisingsolutions, and a winning team was identified.During the second week, the American students visited the Achema, the world’slargest exhibition of equipment for the chemical and process industries. Therethe students could see, touch, and examine the latest technologies, apparatus, andmachineries, with detailed demonstrations and explanations provided by the ex-hibitors. Towards the end of the second week, the students and professors travelledthe German autobahn to Munich, where BMW invited them to explore their mostmodern virtual reality lab and guide them through the assembly line of the Munichfactory.The following weekend was devoted to a visit of the Dachau concentration camp, aremarkable site that triggered insightful questions about the societal responsibilityof engineers in non-democratic environments.During the third week, the students visited the Audi factory in Ingolstadt, wherethey were quite astonished to discover how different it was from that at BMW.The three-week experience of German engineering was capped with a visit to theHoechst industrial park, which once hosted the largest chemical company in theworld, and which is now a modern profitable production site for many small- andmedium-sized companies.The three week time frame allowed the USA students the chance for an intenseimmersion into German education, engineering, and culture. In this short timethe American students learned: how the German design process differs from theUSA; that there are many global issues facing engineers; there is a rich history oftechnology development in Germany; and that the EuroCup isn’t a beverage cup atall. Even in this short time, many friendships and connections developed betweenthe students from both continents. Many of the students are already planning forlonger experiences abroad.The assessment of the course, by both the American and German students, hasbeen extremely positive, and it is therefore likely that it will be repeated in futureyears. 2

Hampe, M. J., & Bøhn, J. H., & Dixon, D. J. (2013, June), Introduction to German Engineering. A Transatlantic Experience Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19840

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