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Reflections on International Exchange of Students and Professors in Mechanical Engineering

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Faculty and Program Developments, Exchanges, and Best Practices

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1108.1 - 25.1108.9



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Paper Authors


Brian P. Self California Polytechnic State University

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Brian P. Self obtained his B.S. and M.S. degrees in engineering mechanics from Virginia Tech and his Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Utah. He worked in the Air Force Research Laboratories before teaching at the U.S. Air Force Academy for seven years. Self has taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, since 2006. During the 2011-2012 academic year, he participated in a professor exchange, teaching at the Munich University of Applied Sciences. His engineering education interests include collaborating on the Dynamics Concept Inventory, developing model-eliciting activities in mechanical engineering courses, inquiry-based learning in mechanics, and design projects to help promote adapted physical activities. Other professional interests include aviation physiology and biomechanics.

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Peter Wolfsteiner Munich University of Applied Sciences

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Peter Wolfsteiner is professor in mechanical engineering at the Munich University of Applied Sciences (HM) in Germany. He received his Ph.D. degree in M.E. from the Technical University Munich. Prior to joining the faculty at HM, he worked at Knorr-Bremse Group as a manager in the area of new technologies for rail vehicle braking systems. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in statics, strength of materials, dynamics, controls, numerics, and simulation of dynamical systems. Research interests include simulation, nonlinear dynamics, random vibrations, and fatigue. He is currently working as exchange professor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

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Reflections on international exchange of students and professors in mechanical engineering  As described in the previous companion paper, XYZ and Hochschule München (HM) have developed a strong partnership to increase the global competitiveness of their students.  As part of this relationship, faculty are encouraged to participate in a teaching exchange, typically for an entire year.  Students also participate in the exchange – this year there are __ HM students taking courses at ___ and ____ spending at least one semester at HM.  Although very rewarding, this exchange also presents a variety of challenges for the faculty, students and for the department.  The HM offers some classes in English, but students often do not received as many credits as they would if they had remained at XYX.  Students from HM have to contend with taking courses in their non‐native language, and are not used to the continuous graded assignments that are more typical of a US university.  Some subjective survey data will be collected throughout the year to determine how students respond to these challenges, and potential ways to improve the exchange. The professors participating in the exchange will also share their experiences.  Both instructors focus on teaching mechanics, and will share insight into the mechanics curriculum at their home institutions.  Examples include the HM’s increased focus on vibrations, matrix solutions, and programming when compared to that of XYZ; the increased time commitment of the instructor at XYZ; the increased responsibility of the student for their learning at the HM; and the interaction between faculty and students.  Other experiences will also be shared:  driving on the autobahn, sampling the vineyards of California, experiencing the Oktoberfest, and exploring Sequoia National Park.   The paper will help other mechanics educators who are thinking of increasing their international activities to understand the cultural and educational differences they may encounter.  An exchange is an extremely valuable experience for both students and professors, particularly in the ever‐increasing global engineering workplace.  

Self, B. P., & Wolfsteiner, P. (2012, June), Reflections on International Exchange of Students and Professors in Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21865

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