Below I will discuss the structure of the courses being taken and the material offered therein.
German: An introductory course in German is offered for the first six weeks of the program. It begins with the ultimate basics, things which, if I were going to Germany, I would have learned (and did learn) beforehand. This includes verb conjugation, an introduction to articles and cases, basic vocabulary, and introductory conversation (Ich heiße, etc.). This meant I was a little bored in the first few weeks of the course. It also made the later material that much more easy to pick up.
As I have found, the more you know (within a single language or regarding languages in general), the easier it is to learn. In his case, I’d encourage anyone considering participating in the Engineering in Bochum program to come with at least a basic knowledge of the language. A valuable resource for this will be Duolingo.com. Another advantage is that it will give you more time to study for the more difficult classes such as…
Fluid Mechanics: This course is taught by local faculty member, Dr. Stefan Pollak, who is also the coordinator of our program here at RUB. The course structure involves a single class period once a week (Tuesday mornings), which consists of a lecture (1-1.5 hrs), and a recitation (also 1-1.5 hrs), which is lead by a Ph.D. student. The lecture will involve a powerpoint presentation introducing a new concept in fluid mechanics, and the recitation will be a series of problems we must work on in order to better/fully understand that concept. In between the lecture and recitation is a 20 minute break during which I and the other students usually go to the cafeteria (as mentioned in a previous post, each academic building has its own small cafeteria) to eat breakfast or a snack, or drink a cup of cappuccino.
Heat Transfer: This course is taught by Drexel faculty member Dr. Steven Wrenn, who founded the program and is a professor in the chemical engineering department. Because Dr. Wrenn is based in Philadelphia, the course is taught digitally via webcam. The course is scheduled twice a week. One is a live lecture which acts much like a traditional lecture where student can interact and ask question as necessary. The second involved a recorded lecture in the same format as the first, but without the possibility of interacting. As an innovative teaching method, I think it is working quite well and has a lot of potential when all the kinks are worked out.
Each Friday, half of the Drexel exchange students meet in a different location of the engineering faculty to perform a laboratory experiment. The labs are very well organized and each do a good job of demonstrating an individual concept relating to chemical or mechanical engineering, and usually directly relate to what we are learning in one of the two engineering courses described above (Eg. absorbtion between liquid and gas, heat exchangers, stacked columns, orifice fluid flow, etc.). I thoroughly enjoy these lab activities, as I find them highly educational while also being interactive enough to keep my attention the whole time.
Research: Finally, each student is assigned to a group of two or three and a research project on which he or she will work under the guidance of one or two Ph.D. students in the engineering department. My research involved evaluating the flow properties of a polymer called tristearin using viscosity measure devices. This being my first research experience, I find it interesting if not sometimes a bit tedious. Overall, I am looking forward to seeing cohesive results and making conclusions that may contribute to a practical application of the chemical, which will all be summarized in our final report at the end of the term.
The photo above shows the view from the library on a sunny day.