- Associated Press - Sunday, September 24, 2017

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - University of Alabama engineering students along with four peer institutions in the state will take part in a German engineering exchange program.

UA Provost Kevin Whitaker and his counterparts at the other partnering universities signed a memorandum of understanding Sept. 14 creating the exchange program, The Tuscaloosa News reported. Undergraduates will be able to take English-taught courses at the Germany universities in mechanical, electrical and computer engineering.

The exchange joins existing UA programs allowing students to study engineering in Germany.

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“This is big business for us,” said Bharat Balasubramanian, an engineering professor and executive director of UA’s Center for Advanced Vehicle Technologies.

Balasubramanian teaches an advanced course in advanced manufacturing in German to undergraduates at UA. He also oversees graduate students who are working on dissertations while in Mercedes-Benz labs in Germany.

Balasubramanian, who retired from Mercedes-Benz in 2012 as vice president of group research and advanced engineering before joining UA’s engineering faculty, taught college engineering courses while he worked for the automaker, a common partnership between universities and industry in Germany.

The other Alabama institutions include the University of Alabama in Huntsville, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Auburn University and the University of South Alabama. Seven German universities from the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg will participate.

The seven institutions focus on applied sciences, Balasubramanian said, noting universities in Germany are typically research-focused or applied-science focused institutions.

About 20 undergraduates from the state will begin studying in Germany beginning next spring. Hochschule Karlsruhe and Hochschule Offenburg universities will participate as the pilot schools in Germany this spring.

Qualified students will have an opportunity to stay in Germany for an internship after the end of the semester, according to the announcement.

“You have the option then, if they have sufficient German knowledge and they’re academically excellent. The university will help them get an internship for another six months till the end of the year,” Balasubramanian said.

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