Shaping the future with technology
Engineering degrees “Made in Germany” have an excellent reputation internationally and provide you with really good conditions for studying and for research. Because the German universities have outstanding technical facilities, cooperate intensively with business enterprises and are incorporated in a network together with scientific organisations all over the world.
The multitude and variety of degree courses doesn’t make selection easy for you: in addition to the “classic” engineering disciplines such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering or civil engineering, you find a broadly differentiated range of courses, many of them interdisciplinary in nature. The various engineering disciplines and special focuses are equally represented at the traditional universities and the universities of applied sciences.
As an engineer-to-be you receive a sound technical training. In addition, you are taught the necessary soft skills that prepare you well for the constant changes in this occupation and for a broad and increasingly international spectrum of activities.
If you’re interested in studying engineering, you should have excellent school marks in mathematics, physics and chemistry and an interest in technology. An ability to think independently and analytically is the ideal basis. Creativity, good powers of observation and communication skills make your prospects for a career in engineering perfect. Good German language skills are essential in order to be able to follow the lectures. As you often have to read specialist literature that is written in English, you also need good English language skills.
What characterises engineering degree courses at traditional universities is their clearly specialist and research-oriented focus, though the reference to applications remains constantly visible. The spectrum of subjects offered by the universities is broad. In teaching and research there are many interdisciplinary connections which cross subject and faculty boundaries. There are a close research network and intensive cooperation with universities at home and abroad, with non-university research institutions and with numerous companies. This provides you with diverse opportunities to help to shape research yourself.
At the universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen) the specific reference to practice and applications of the engineering methods and skills is more prominent. This is expressed in the generally obligatory internship that you have to complete outside the university in the fifth semester of studies, for example in a craft business or industrial firm. The universities of applied sciences frequently also have degree programmes that combine the engineering degree course with an apprenticeship in a firm-based training occupation. In this way you gain another vocational qualification besides the degree.
In the first semesters of their studies the students at all types of university acquire the necessary basic knowledge of mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering. Based on this knowledge, the specialist and methodological skills in the specific engineering discipline are then taught. Depending on the degree course you can often emphasise different aspects, thereby creating a qualification profile geared towards your personal inclinations. In the context of projects or the bachelor thesis, you deal with interesting engineering questions and problems from the fields of application and research. You often also cooperate with companies for this.
Practical skills are highly valued by subsequent employers. It is very useful to gather practical experience early on. So you will be able to put into practice the theoretical knowledge acquired during the degree course later on in the business world. For this reason, especially at the universities of applied sciences, internships in firms lasting several months are an integral part of the engineering degree. However, also voluntary periods of work experience in industry during the university holidays, project work or the selection of a subject for the degree thesis are all good opportunities to establish contacts with firms and to organise the degree course with a practical relevance.
With almost 427,000 students, engineering is the third largest field of study in numerical terms. Some 126,000 freshman students (including about 20,000 foreign students) enrolled for one of the numerous engineering courses in the winter semester 2010/2011.
Voices of foreign students
I have always been interested in the manufacturing of technical products and that’s why I wanted to study mechanical engineering. I chose Germany because friends advised me to do so, but also because the country is well-known for its top-quality technology. It is very important to learn the language well. That’s the only way to get to know your fellow students easily and to make best use of the support provided by the teaching staff.
Bertrand Tchana comes from Cameroon and is studying mechanical engineering at the Fachhochschule Südwestfalen, University of Applied Sciences.
My first encounter with the TU Darmstadt came about via the DAAD WISE programme in 2009 during my bachelor’s degree in materials engineering in India. My materials engineering research here in Darmstadt focuses on the development of modern storage media. I’m currently working as a doctoral student in the field of thin film and oxide nanoelectronics in the group supervised by Professor Lambert Alff. In the long run I aim to become self-employed. At the TU Darmstadt we have a project called “Unitechspin”, which supports technology spin-offs from within the university and new business start-ups and provides them with orientation assistance.
Vikas Shabadi comes from India and is studying in the Advanced Thin Film Technology Division of the Technische Universität Darmstadt.