Tasting Global Engineering Experiences

Friday, September 06, 2019
Students sitting on a sign at a German University

The Global Engineering and the Social Context course gave students an international perspective in automation and manufacturing systems, while experiencing a slice of life in Germany this summer.

Students and faculty learned to appreciate engineering from a global perspective, experienced different countries and cultures, and explored their international horizons by completing a Global Engineering and the Social Context course, part of the institute’s new international education curriculum.

The highlight of the two-quarter course was being immersed in Germany for three weeks this summer.

Most of the time was learning about different automation and manufacturing systems within different German companies, according to Rebecca Bercich, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. She taught the course with Irene Reizman, assistant professor of chemical engineering.

Eight students attended lectures on systems modeling and completed a bier brewing project with German engineering students from Otto von Guericke University in Magdeburg. The group also attended lectures on German language and culture, and had tours of Siemens and Festo factories in the country.

There were also plenty of time for excursions to experience life in Leipzig, Braunschweig, Wörlitz, Berlin, Dresden, Nuremburg and Stuttgart.

Mechanical engineering major Marisa Dimperio says, “Since I am going into my senior year, I had to begin thinking about where I would like to take a job. After deciding that I would like to move away from America and explore other cultures while being an engineer, I thought this class was the perfect opportunity to learn about how to work with engineers globally.”

She continues, “As engineers today, we are always going to be working on projects internationally, so I think it is very important that we learn how to work with people from other cultures, especially since the work environment varies so much from country to country. One major concept I learned is how different the engineering process is viewed in Germany. Creating a design or project that is user-friendly and doesn’t harm the environment is paramount. Engineering has a noticeable impact on everyday life there. This mindset really changed the way I approach a project and I believe will make me a better engineer.”

Lyra Bailey, a sophomore mechanical engineering student, says “The most unforgettable part of the trip was immersing myself in a different culture. So many times I would stop and think, ‘this restaurant is older than my country.’ The trip let me see what engineers are working on abroad, and it let me narrow down what career field I was interested in pursuing. Also, I was surprised about how capable I was. I felt prepared to do everything that was asked of me, and I wasn’t afraid to step out of my comfort zone a little bit. I now want to move forward and take on even more opportunities like this one.”

Other students participating in the summer adventure were Payton Beck, Benjamin Salak, Brandi Stockton-Fresso and Zheyuan Zheng, along with mechanical engineering/electrical engineering major Zixin Fan, and optical engineering major Margaret Luffman.