A PIONEERING APPROACH
It takes courage and conviction to break new ground – and the Darmstadt University of Technology (TU Darmstadt) has always taken a pioneering approach towards education.
The institution’s highly regarded Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, for example, is the oldest of its kind, having opened its doors to the world’s first electrical engineering student back in 1883. “Ever since, we have followed in our tradition of innovation,” says Professor Franko Küppers, coordinator of international affairs. He cites the university’s many “first Chairs” – including those for Telecommunications in 1894, for Renewable Energies in 1996 and, most recently, for Bio-inspired Communication Systems in 2013. Hardly surprising, therefore, that TU Darmstadt counts itself among the nine members of the TU9, an elite group of German universities of technology.
A HOTBED OF RESEARCH
Location is also key to TU Darmstadt’s outlook. Known as the “City of Science”, Darmstadt is conveniently nestled between Frankfurt and Heidelberg in central Germany. The region is a hotbed of research, housing institutions such as the European Space Operation Centre (ESOC) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).
Today, students in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology benefit both from the university’s history of excellent education and from its international, research- intensive environment. “Our bachelor’s students start on a broad common programme and specialise as they progress,” says Professor Küppers.“They specialise early – usually around the third semester – and they have more choices than students at other universities.” These range from automation to communications, cyber security or particle accelerator technology. “Students tailor their studies according to their talents, their interests and their future career goals.” And those that want to progress – whether to a master’s or a “Doktor-Ingenieur” PhD – can do so seemlessly. “Bachelor’s students can even start taking master’s-level classes during their undergraduate programme,” says Professor Küppers. “We put that in place to smooth the transition.”
The department boasts strong international links too. At bachelor’s level, a number of double-degree programmes are on offer, partnering with European and US universities. “Those students get two degrees from two universities,” notes Professor Küppers. “They get the German one from TU Darmstadt and they get an American one from Rhode Island or a Swedish one from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, for example. During their studies, they take classes at two universities, they become proficient in two languages, they become familiar with two cultures – and all of that is of benefit to them when it comes to looking for jobs with international companies.”
Similarly international in flavour, and with 40 per cent international students, the department’s master’s courses are delivered in large part in English, as this is often the common working language for research groups. The university also offers collaborations and exchange programmes. “Our students may spend a semester or two in Beijing, Shanghai or Singapore, or a number of other places, living there and studying there,” says Professor Küppers.
Back in Germany, students are able to link with industry projects and university research, with theses at all levels often resulting from real research projects. “The department collaborates with Bosch, Continental, Lufthansa, Siemens – all the best-known German companies – and we have research contracts in order to undertake projects with or for them,” says Professor Küppers. “Many of these bring employment opportunities.”
TU Darmstadt instils its spirit of innovation, courage and conviction into its students. And the result? “We can say this: they have no problems finding a job directly after graduation,” concludes Professor Küppers.