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ETH Life - wissen was laeuft ETH Life - wissen was laeuft

ETH - Eidgenoessische Technische Hochschule Zuerich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
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Published: 23.11.2006, 06:00
Modified: 22.11.2006, 17:58
Engineer training under the magnifying glass
Networked for global competence

(ga) In response to an invitation from the automobile supplier Continental, eight universities from three continents have prepared a joint study of the requirements for training engineers for the global market. It is entitled “In Search of Global Engineering Excellence“. (1) A search was made for criteria for the best possible global engineering science. The study was presented to the media in the Eberbach Monastery near Frankfurt on Friday 10 November.

Worldwide interest

Anders Hagström, the person in the Rectorate responsible for marketing the Institute and who co-ordinated the participation by ETH in the study, reported that more than 60 media representatives from the whole world had travelled there for the event. The ETH participation was led by Professor Bernhard Plattner, Prorector for the Bachelor/Master study programme. In addition to ETH Zurich, the collaborators in the study were the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA, the Escola Politécnica da Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, the University of Tokyo, Japan, and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Tsinghua University of Bejing, China. The project was managed by the Darmstadt University of Technology. The idea for the study originated from the Continental AG Company and the Group financed the work of the eight institutions of higher education as well as all of the participants’ meetings. According to Hagström, Continental paid a total amount in the high six-figure region.

On the right track

The results of the study were formulated in four recommendations: Global competence should become a key qualification for future graduates in the engineering sciences. In addition priority must be given to the mobility of engineering students, researchers and experts. Increased attention should be paid to partnerships with industry to enable the requirements of practical operations to be included in the training. Finally it was said that research concerning the development of the training of engineers in the global context is urgently required.

These findings are not all new. Hagström says that during the study the US American higher education institutions for example were actually able to refer back to current data from studies already carried out in this field. The novel aspect is that the results are taking place on a global plane – “and the knowledge that everyone is facing the same problems.”

Need to catch up regarding mobility

The fact that the initiative for “Global Engineering Excellence” originates from an industrial group shows the urgency of the actions striven for in the training of engineers. Continental has had real problems appointing staff to key positions in the new markets, e.g. in Asia, because the required specialists are badly prepared for global demands. European engineers above all are still too unwilling to work in other parts of the world and to adapt to foreign cultures. At ETH too, only 25-30% of the students complete a placement abroad in the context of their study programme.

Professor Reiner Anderl, Vice-president of Darmstadt University of Technology, presents the study. (photo:

(1) Web site of Continental:

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