Germany has always been the plan

Engineering student Danielle Kline always knew she wanted to study abroad in Germany, but things didn't originally go to plan. Leaving her comfort zone was a big step, but totally worth it.

Danielle Kline, a 20-year-old mechanical engineering exchange student from the University of Pittsburgh, wanted to be in Germany. That was the plan from the time she was on school exchange. 'At middle school only five people took German in my year. I don’t know why but something drew me to it,' she remembers. 'When I was 14 I went to Ulm on exchange and it was life-changing. I wanted to travel; I wanted to be in Germany.' From day one of her freshman year at Pittsburgh she regularly visited the Education Abroad Office and asked, 'Is it too early to apply?' only to be told, 'yes'. At the beginning of her junior year it was finally time. She applied through the University of Pittsburgh collaboration with UAS7* for a study-abroad semester in Munich. 'A few weeks later I opened my email and read, "Congratulations! We would like to offer you a place at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences." I thought, OK, at least I’m going to Germany,' she remembers, laughing.

Developing an idea for Airbus

In Hamburg Danielle signed up for four engineering classes, three in English and one in German. Her favourite class is the Industry Team Design Project, for which she had to make a difficult choice. 'This class is on a Friday afternoon and signing up for it meant not having Fridays free for long weekends for travel,' she explains. Not an easy decision, we know, because study abroad is also about experiencing Germany and the surrounding European countries. But this class is special and when she talked to the professor about it, she was sold. Professor Jutta Abulawi worked for Airbus before she joined the HAW Hamburg and she brought her contacts with her. In her class students are put into teams and are asked to develop ideas for different aircraft issues. The projects come from Airbus, and at the end of the semester the students present their ideas to Airbus experts on site at the Hamburg plant. After four months Danielle can say: 'I really, really love it. It was 100 per cent worth it.'

Danielle is part of a team of international and German students working on one of six projects for Airbus. Her team is developing an idea for an integrated trash compactor in the galley to utilise currently unused space. They have to develop a design concept and CAD models, look at stress and cost analysis, and prepare the project documentation. Each team member has a specific role and they learn to work together as they would in industry. 'It is the coolest thing!' Danielle beams. 'At Pitt we focus more on theory. And even in internships the projects are more "intro tasks". This project allows you to work as an engineer and be part of the process of designing something. It has been invaluable, really invaluable!'