The University of Georgia will offer a new dual degree in German and engineering beginning fall semester. The program consists of a five-year course of study leading to a dual degree in German and one of six engineering fields: mechanical, biological, agricultural, civil, electrical or computer systems.
The program will include a one-year stay abroad in the fourth year, during which students will complete a semester of study at one of Germany’s top technical universities, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, followed by a semester-long internship with a German company.
“Graduates of this program will possess not only engineering expertise but also valuable international experience and meaningful intercultural interaction,” said Donald Leo, dean of the College of Engineering. “They will be uniquely qualified to succeed in their careers whether in the U.S. or abroad.”
An interdisciplinary team of faculty members—Tom Lawrence and David Stooksbury in the College of Engineering and Katie Chapman and Martin Kagel in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of Germanic and Slavic studies—developed the new dual program.
“Engineering majors are notoriously underrepresented among students studying abroad, which is one reason why the new program is especially significant,” said Kagel, head of the department of Germanic and Slavic studies. “Combining high quality engineering education offered at UGA with the cultural literacy provided by the German major will make for well-educated, highly employable graduates who possess excellent job, foreign language and cultural soft skills.”
Similar programs have already seen success at a number of institutions in the U.S., including the University of Michigan, the University of Connecticut, Purdue University and the University of Rhode Island. Kagel said UGA’s program is designed with a strong emphasis on intercultural competence.
“It will be unique in that it includes the extensive reflection on cultural difference in addition to the language proficiency students will acquire,” he said.
When considered in the context of Georgia’s extensive economic relations with Germany, Kagel said German language skills are especially advantageous. Germany is one of the state’s top five trading partners, and more than 450 German companies are doing business here, including 80 engineering-related firms. These companies employ more than 21,000 Georgians while Georgia exports to Germany exceed $1 billion.
The first UGA student enrolled in the dual degree program will attend KIT beginning in October.
“Several other students are on track for going to KIT in fall 2016,” Lawrence said. “Representatives of the college and the department of Germanic and Slavic studies will go to Germany this summer to finalize internship opportunities with German companies for students after they take courses at KIT.”
As part of the new program, the UGA College of Engineering will host German exchange students.
Stooksbury believes the most important skill students in the dual degree program will gain is how to communicate, especially with non-engineers.
“The strength of the UGA College of Engineering is that students are educated in a liberal arts environment,” he said. “For our engineering students, this means they go to classes and spend social time with students that are not necessarily engineering students. They’re exposed to a greater variety of students and ways of looking at problems. Because of their well-rounded education, graduates of this dual degree program will have the capacity to become better human-oriented engineers. ”