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A Guide to Studying Engineering Abroad

Studying engineering abroad doesn’t have to be rocket science. With a little research and planning ahead, you can easily put the pieces together. Engineering is a global industry that requires real world experience, the ability to work across cultures, and knowledge of fresh ways of solving problems. Check, check and check! If you study engineering abroad, you’ll gain the career skills you need while seeing the world, making new friends, and growing personally. Oh, and you might even have fun! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t study abroad as an engineering major.

Why Study Engineering Abroad

Engineering study abroad programs offer students the opportunity to gain two essential skills that will place them ahead of their peers: cultural competence and communication skills. Being immersed in another academic and societal setting forces you to see other points of view and to interact with people different from yourself. In the globalized world of today, an understanding of diverse cultures and experience communicating with different people are basic expectations for all engineering graduates. Yet, still far too few engineering majors study abroad. Come again? Yup, that’s right.

With international experience on your resume, you’ll stand out from the pack. No matter what type of engineer you become, chances are you’ll work internationally or across cultures at some point in your career. By studying engineering abroad, you’ll combine your technical prowess with the effortless ability to express your ah-mazing ideas and knowledge to all kinds of people. That sounds like a job seeker’s killer combo to Employedville.

Locations

Unless you speak another language or you’re setting out to become bilingual, you’ll probably want to consider the English-speaking world, or engineering study abroad programs taught in English, for your international adventure. England and Australia both offer strong engineering program opportunities across the board, but also have some stand out universities. Germany is another clear winner for studying engineering abroad, especially if you’re into mechanical or electrical engineering (aka cars).

Australia may be known for its beaches, cute animals, and laid back vibe, but it’s also home to some of the best unis in the world for the study of engineering. The University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney are well known for their civil engineering programs, as well as electrical engineering degree programs. The University of Monash or the University of Melbourne are also a great choices for studying electrical engineering abroad, but are top universities for students of mechanical engineering too. Wherever you study engineering in Australia, consider taking a course on Australian or culture or history, in addition to your engineering coursework.

In between classes, throw on your sunnies (sunglasses) and thongs (no, not that kind, Flip-flops, people) and head to the beach. The beaches alone are reason enough to pack your bags, but you’ll also want to lay your eyes on Sydney Harbor and Ayers Rock. For you divers, the Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space (seriously) and is not to be missed. Australia is the perfect place for equal hard work and play during your engineering study abroad program.

It’s no secret that England’s longstanding universities are first-rate, and engineering is certainly no exception. You may have heard of the University of Oxford or perhaps the University of Cambridge? Their programs in chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering earn high marks. Imperial College London also has stellar engineering programs in almost every category. There’s also no better place to study theatre or literature abroad, if either subject strikes your fancy alongside engineering.

England is way more than rainy weather and fish and chips. Despite its familiar language, England is incredibly diverse. You’ll hear hundreds of languages spoken as you walk down the streets, and students from all over flock to England’s universities, creating a dynamic learning environment in and out of the classroom. If you favor a faster pace, you could spend an entire semester (or longer) exploring London on its own, but you can also slow down and smell the roses in country gardens, castles, or green open spaces to let all that newfound knowledge sink in.

As a global leader in science and technology, Germany is an ideal destination to study engineering abroad. Increasingly, science and engineering study abroad programs are being offered in English in Germany, although you may want to take a language class while you’re there to better navigate your day to day life. TU Berlin or TU Munich are two of Germany’s finest programs. Karlsruhe University of Technology (KIT) and the University of Stuttgart also offer top mechanical engineering programs. Stuttgart is considered the birthplace of the automobile, and today is home to Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. Sweet! 

After your mind is blown with all there is to see and learn in Germany, refuel with some serious brain food like bratwurst or leberwurst (various delish sausages). Then hop on the country’s uber-efficient train system to take you anywhere you want to go. If you’re studying abroad in Germany in September, Oktoberfest is the beer festival of all beer festivals, and in December, it’s all about the Christmas markets. Plus, there are a number of subsidies and scholarships available for study abroad in Germany, which may help to keep the cost in check.

Engineering Study Abroad Programs

The courses you take will certainly vary depending on the type of engineering you study abroad, as well as your goals. Math and physics-focused courses tend to be offered at most universities, especially at larger or technical universities. Differential equations is one of the most common courses you’ll find, and statistics or linear algebra are other probable finds. That being said, you will no doubt want to take courses focused on your particular discipline. For electrical or computer engineers, computer science courses are prevalent, and for mechanical engineers, thermodynamics is a sure bet. electrical engineers may have luck finding an electrical circuits class.

If you can fit it in, don’t rule out taking a cultural or language course while studying engineering abroad, or just something you’re interested in. Studying abroad can be a unique opportunity to explore untapped interests or to take a region-focused course you can’t take at home, like indigenous Australia or European art and architecture.

Benefits & Challenges

One challenge engineering students may face is finding a curriculum that will be transferable to their home university so they can stay on track for graduation. Many students choose to study engineering abroad earlier in their academic career for this reason, since typically, lower-level courses are more readily available than specific higher-level courses. Satellite campuses of schools in your home country have the bonus of aligning courses, but may lack the opportunity to connect meaningfully with locals, so consider your goals for engineering study abroad, and remember, planning ahead is your best friend here. 

On the flip side, the benefits are totally worth it. Said no one ever, “I wish I didn’t study abroad.” Engineers are the world’s builders, innovators, and designers, tasked with solving very complex problems. Understanding cultural intricacies and being able to work with diverse individuals, industries, and nations will undoubtedly make you a more capable, and more employable, engineer. 

With everything you can gain by choosing to study engineering abroad, what are you waiting for? Keep your eyes on the prize and you will be well-situated to solve problems like a boss, communicate across borders, and build a foundation of skills and knowledge to launch you forward.

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A Guide To
Studying Engineering Abroad

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