Fostering international faculty collaboration through student exchange programs with a research component

Ilka Balk, John Balk

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


In 2006, the College of Engineering at the University of Kentucky began developing an Engineering and German Studies Program, which included both study and work abroad, as well as intensive language immersion options for the College's students. Leveraging a new faculty member's existing connection to German faculty members at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), an exchange program was conceived and then began in the spring of 2007. The program is designed so that, each year, the US institution's students arrive in Karlsruhe between January and March, and start with a research project that has been formulated by faculty at both institutions. Whenever possible, the US student is paired with a German student who will participate in the reciprocal phase of the exchange program. When the semester begins in Karlsruhe in April, students transition to coursework and either finish their research or decrease their laboratory workload. The engineering students from Karlsruhe, Germany, come to the University of Kentucky in August to take regular classes in the fall semester. Karlsruhe's engineering students, who are required to complete a 500-hour research project for their degree, perform some of this research in the fall semester, while also taking classes, and switch to full-time research after final exams. The research completed by the exchange students is a collaborative project between the professors in the United States and Karlsruhe. Because the duration of each student's time abroad is roughly one and a half semesters, consisting of one academic semester and part of the semester break(s), German and American students overlap at both universities. This interaction occurs both in the classroom and in the laboratory, and facilitates continuity in the research projects. The students and faculty have enjoyed early success with this arrangement. Two of the collaborative research projects have led to publications in a respected materials science journal. The exchange has also fostered further collaboration between professors on both sides of the Atlantic, resulting in invited seminars and joint proposals. Currently in its third year, the research exchange has grown to six "pairs" of faculty, who are now working together. We will expand this program to include additional faculty as we increase the numbers of student participants.

Original languageEnglish
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2010
Event2010 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Louisville, KY, United States
Duration: Jun 20 2010Jun 23 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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