by Ric Burrous
A partnership linking the School of Engineering and Technology and the Department of World Languages and Cultures in the School of Liberal Arts has given four IUPUI students intriguing international experiences as they prepare to graduate in 2015.
A dual-degree program between the engineering school and German, Spanish and French language programs opened the doors to the internships. Three of them, Brian Knip, Eduardo Salcedo and Jesus Roman, worked with the Bosch Engineering Group in the small town of Abstatt. The fourth, C. J. Nielsen, worked at the University of Heilbronn. Both Abstatt and Heilbronn are located in southern Germany.
Knip, Salcedo and Roman tested their skills and knowledge in Bosch’s research and development department as part of an international group of engineering professionals, researchers and interns. Nielsen worked at an engineering lab alongside graduate students. All but Knip are part of IUPUI’s motorsports engineering program; Knip majors in mechanical engineering.
Claudia Grossmann, director of IUPUI’s German program, said the time abroad has an impact on the students.
“They gain new language, technical and intercultural skills, and gain on a personal level, as well,” Grossmann said. “They learn how to take care of themselves in another culture. As interns, they don’t have as much support as they are used to, so they have to deal with a wide range of practical experiences. That’s invaluable.”
Terri Talbert-Hatch, the assistant dean of student services in Engineering and Technology, knows the dual-degree program allows students to prepare for professional careers while benefitting schools at the same time.
“It helps us develop partnerships with other universities and with businesses,” she said. “Last year, for instance, an official from Bosch Motorsports in Detroit heard about our dual-degree program, and the talented students who were involved, and wondered why the company’s Detroit site didn’t have a similar program.” That has opened a discussion that may lead to opportunities in the U.S.
Both Grossmann and Talbert-Hatch have led student delegations to Germany, and have seen how the trips affected IUPUI students.
“Students figure out pretty quickly how studying abroad can benefit them in internships and career opportunities,” Talbert-Hatch said, noting a wealth of connections linking the U.S. and Germany in engineering fields.
Knip said he learned a lot during his time abroad, not all of it technical.
“Throughout my internship, I discovered both what I enjoyed and disliked about the possible careers available for mechanical engineering graduates,” he said. That knowledge has given him a stronger focus on his career goals as he applies and interviews with prospective employers.
The dual-degree program has been around for a decade, and Grossmann believes that internship prospects in German companies fit well with the language she teaches.
“We have a good following from engineering students, who often are interested in German engineering and want to take advantage of what they can learn,” she said.
“Engineers tend to look at things a little differently, and doing an internship in Germany allows them to experience technology that is just as advanced, but in a different culture,” Grossmann added. “The language immersion and engineering work enrich each other.”