Students Can Earn Both German and Engineering Degrees Through U of A Program
International Engineering Program students Connor Heo (from left), Allison Rucker, Steven Blackiston, Braelyn Smith and John McKenna gear up for a successful fall semester.
Students with an interest in expanding their international career options can enroll in the International Engineering Program — a multidisciplinary initiative between the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, through a partnership between the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures and the College of Engineering.
Launched last year, the International Engineering Program allows students to earn both a German and an engineering or computer science degree in five years including a year spent in Germany.
"The program is intended for students who wish to expand their job opportunities and who understand that knowing another language is an important skill in today's business world," said Kathleen Condray, associate professor of German in the Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, and co-founder of the program.
Condray said that International Engineering Program has received a lot of student interest in the past year, with 20 students already enrolled.
Program co-founder Bryan Hill, engineering's assistant dean for student recruitment, honors and international programs, agreed with Condray and said interest in the program has been steadily increasing.
"Interested applicants explain why they wish to study both engineering and German in an essay," he said. "Many students express their interest in having an advantage in the global career market, as well as gaining knowledge of Germany's engineering and STEM innovation."
Condray said that students in this five year program spend their fourth year in Germany studying for a semester at the Techinal University of Darmstadt, a member of the TU9 Consortium of leading technical universities in Germany. While there, students also spend a semester interning for a German company.
The first student to study abroad through the International Engineering Program is Steven Sonntag, who is currently studying at the Technical University of Darmstadt and will begin working for a German company through the Cultural Vistas program in the spring.
"My time here in Germany is going to greatly increase the quality of career I'll be able to obtain in the future," Sonntag said. "With the world becoming more and more globalized, participants of the IEP will have a leg up on other students thanks to the engineering internship that we have during the second semester in Germany."
Condray said that Germany has one of the soundest economies in Europe, and is an important partner in the European Union. German STEM branches have traditionally been leaders in their fields with firms such as BASF, Bayer, BMW, Mercedes, Merck, Porsche and SAP.
However, the International Engineering Program is not just for students who wish to work abroad. The United States is home to many German-owned corporations. Arkansas alone has over 23 businesses with German parent companies, which are responsible for more than 1,500 jobs.
These facts add up to appealing career options for students like Sonntag.
"I had studied German throughout high school, and didn't want to lose the language, so I continued studying it at the U of A with my engineering courses," Sonntag said. "My freshman year, Bryan Hill, the assistant dean of engineering, came to one of my classes and told us about the new program he was working on with the German department. I always wanted to study in Germany, and this program offered me the best opportunity to take courses in a country that is synonymous with engineering."
For interested future applicants, Condray suggests that students do as Sonntag did and begin taking German in high school. This is because the 10-semester degree plan assumes that they will begin their college studies in Intermediate German I.
However, if students feel they are behind or weren't able to take many German courses in high school, summer classes can still catch them up on language skills.
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