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Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: Strategies For Improving International Experience And Employability Skills Of Undergraduate Students Of Vehicle 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 Engineers for the Global Workplace

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Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1288.1 - 13.1288.9

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Paper Authors


Annette Casey Joanneum University of Applied Sciences, Department of Automotive Engineering,

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Annette Casey is an English language trainer in the Department of Automotive Engineering,
Joanneum University of Applied Sciences. She graduated from Dublin City University with a
degree in Applied Languages (Translation and Interpreting) in 1991. She has been teaching
business and technical English both in industry and at university level in Austria for the past 12 years.

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Emilia Bratschitsch Joanneum Univeristy of Applied Sciences

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Emilia Bratschitsch is head of the Department of Vehicle Technologies (Automotive and Railway
Engineering) and teaches Electrics, Electronics and Methods of Signal Processing at the
University of Applied Sciences Joanneum in Graz (Austria). She is also a visiting lecturer at the Faculty of Transport of the Technical University of Sofia (Bulgaria). She graduated with a degree in Medical Electronics as well in Technical Journalism from the Technical University of Sofia and received her
PhD from the Technical University of Graz (Austria). She gained industrial experience in
automation of control systems, engineering of electronic control systems and software
development. Her R&D activities comprise design of signal processing and data analysis
methods, modelling, simulation and control of automotive systems as well as Engineering Education.

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Adrian Millward-Sadler Joanneum University of Applied Sciences

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Adrian Millward-Sadler is an English language trainer in the Department of Automotive Engineering, at the Joanneum University of Applied Sciences in Graz. He graduated with a joint honours degree in German and Russian languages from the Victoria University of Manchester in 1998 and completed his Masters’ degree in European Languages and Culture at the same institution in 2000. Since completing his teaching qualification in the same year, he has taught English variously in Spain, Greece, Prague and Graz both in the private and university sectors, as well as having worked in private language school management. He has been teaching in the department for 3 years with interests in language acquisition and Engineering Education.

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

Thinking globally, acting locally: strategies for improving international experience and employability skills of undergraduate students of vehicle engineering


This paper presents the strategies and academic measures in place in an undergraduate vehicle engineering program, which aim to provide students with the experience and skills demanded by the vehicle industry, both global and local.

The demands placed on graduates of engineering programs in the workplace are manifold, regardless of where they work. Companies expect graduates to come equipped with engineering expertise, problem-solving skills, the ability to work alone and in teams, knowledge of business and management practices, as well as communication and interpersonal skills, foreign language proficiency, and some form of international experience. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the vehicle sector.

With this in mind, a compact engineering curriculum was developed in close cooperation with the automotive and railway industry in Austria to meet the needs of the evolving local and international markets. The curriculum, based on a broad palette of engineering subjects, project work, a mandatory internship, business and management training, and English as a second language, is still in place over a decade later, with a number of important additions.

This paper will describe the main features of the curriculum as it is today and show how the implementation of specific academic measures to the degree program has been a vital step towards providing a more all-round educational experience. It also aims to illustrate how, in the absence of a specifically designated ‘global engineering program’, a greater international dimension can be added to an already compact and demanding engineering program to the benefit of all the students.


In the early nineties, the University of Applied Sciences (UAS) system was in its infancy in Austria. This ‘alternative’ to the traditional university system was born of the need to fill a gap in the education market - a form of third-level education which would equip students with the specific knowledge, skills and experience sought by different sectors of industry1. The vehicle engineering sector had taken a strong foothold in the southeast region of Austria, and the big German OEMs were within easy reach. Thus, the Joanneum University of Applied Sciences2 in Graz set about developing a 4-year (8-semester) degree program in Vehicle Technology (Automotive Engineering/Railway Engineering). The development team consisted not only of specialists in the area of engineering and engineering education, but also consultants from industry and representatives of the local government. The idea was to combine traditional mechanical engineering subjects with automotive/railway specific lectures covering up-to-date methods and practices to ensure that the graduates would have a sufficient background to work as professional engineers in their chosen discipline. These engineering subjects should be

Casey, A., & Bratschitsch, E., & Millward-Sadler, A. (2008, June), Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: Strategies For Improving International Experience And Employability Skills Of Undergraduate Students Of Vehicle Engineering Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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