There are several special exchange relationships with specific partner universities in Europe that Cal Poly ME students can take advantage of. Actually, most of the exchange agreements have been written on the College of Engineering level, so students from all engineering disciplines within the College of Engineering are eligible to participate as exchange students at these universities. These universities are:
- Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (Germany)
- Munich University of Applied Sciences (Germany)
- Chalmers University (Gothenburg, Sweden)
- KTH (Stockholm, Sweden)
- TECNUN (San Sebastian, Spain)
- Swinburne University of Technology (Victoria, Australia)
- Chaoyang University of Technology (Taichung, Taiwan)
The way these exchanges work is that students on both sides of the Atlantic continue their enrollment in their home university and continue to pay fees there. There are no fees charged by the host university for visiting students. The number of students exchanged between any two universities should be the same, but exchange students are not responsible for finding a specific student as an exchange partner.
Some of these exchanges are mature (Munich, Karlsruhe, Chalmers) and others are relatively new. Though an exchange is very worthwhile, judging from the testimonials of students who have participated in them, they are not without their problems. Students considering an exchange take on the responsibility of knowing what these problems are and working them out prior to the exchange.
Problem 1: Language - The offerings of courses in English are limited. Munich has the best offering of courses, but these are primarily elective, not required, courses.
Problem 2: Credit transfer - Though many courses, especially in Munich, have been recognized before, do not assume automatically that because we have a relationship with the university that we automatically recognize all courses from that university. Ideally what you should do is find out what courses you will be taking and pre-authorize credit for them before you go. That should be part of your planning.
There is an agreement between the CSU System and the German state of Baden Württemberg that is oriented toward full integration, including language learning. Students in this program spend a year in Germany. The first semester is at the old university city of Tübingen in a German-language immersion program. Students must have had at least one quarter of college-level German before entering this program. After this first semester, students move on to the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences and take engineering classes in German. Thus the aim of the program is fluency in German and one-semester's experience as a regular engineering student with fellow German students at a well-known German university. As such, this program is a good start for Cal Poly students to have an international engineering career. More information on this program can be found at http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/calstate-bw/.
Baden Württemberg is the state in the southwest corner of Germany and includes the cities of Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, and Heidelberg. Baden Württemberg is in the corner of Germany bordered by Switzerland and France. The Rhine River forms its western boundary, and it is where the Black Forest is located.
There are two summer schools with our two German partners that offer students a way to go over for not much cost and study for three weeks or a month in Germany. The courses offered in the Munich program are recognized for Cal Poly credit. The Karlsruhe program is new, and the course offered there will probably get Cal Poly credit in short order. Both programs are Mechanical Engineering/Mechatronics oriented and have some focus on automotive engineering. The language of each program is English.
The summer school at the Munich University of Applied Sciences has run every summer since 2005. It is always well-attended by Cal Poly students. Often there are also German participants and sometimes participants from Europe and other countries. Several different courses are offered, and this changes from year to year. A brochure for this program can be found at www.hm.edu/summerschool. This year (2011) the program's focus is on sustainability engineering, but automotive mechatronics is still offered, since the control of an automobile's systems leads to better energy efficiency.
- The summer school through the Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences is new this year (2011). It is shorter than the Munich program by a week. It is also more focused on factory visits in the automotive industry. Thus it provides participants with a very good overview of the German automobile industry. A flyer for this program is available. This program moves around Germany, from Karlsruhe to Berlin and then to Dresden, so participants get a good look at different auto manufacturers in different parts of the country.