A strategic partnership in the field of aeronautical engineering: The main reason for choosing Virginia Tech as a cooperation partner was its high level of expertise and excellent reputation in the field of aerospace, which complements and enriches the HAW Hamburg aeronautical engineering programme. Virginia Tech is a public, land grant research university and is ranked #25 Top Public Schools (U.S. News & World Report 2018). The College of Engineering is ranked #9 'for public institutions with doctoral programs' (USNWR 2018) and the aerospace programme is ranked #10 worldwide (Shanghai Ranking 2017). Many of the professors have close contacts to industry and their students have the opportunity to participate in industry-related research projects and competitions, making the profile similar to HAW Hamburg.
Since 2011, there has been regular student exchange in the field of aeronautical engineering between HAW Hamburg and Virginia Tech. For this purpose, core subjects in the aeronautical engineering degree programme are offered in English and have been articulated for credit by Virginia Tech. Since 2020, a complete semester at HAW Hamburg has been recognised as part of the Virginia Tech curriculum under the title "Junior Spring Semester Abroad". Virginia Tech students can complete a semester abroad and still finish their studies without extending time to graduation.
At the same time, a large number of aerospace classes at Virginia Tech has been approved for credit transfer to Hamburg, so that HAW Hamburg students can complete a full (30 ECTS) semester in Blacksburg. (Read article: Virginia Tech students abroad)
As the world becomes even more globalized, international experiences are invaluable to engineers. Going abroad exposes you to different perspectives and approaches to engineering challenges, which in turn leads to better solutions.
Virtual projects and Master thesis in Blacksburg
Since 2014 there has also been a collaboration as part of the 'Senior Design Capstone Project' at Virginia Tech. Each year a team of students from both universities works over a period of nine months on a joint project to design an aircraft according to an exact specification. This project prepares the students for a career in the global aerospace industry, where international project management and intercultural communication are core elements of daily work life. They learn to organise themselves and successfully complete an international project across time zones. The project is part of the curriculum and is supported by professors from both universities. As a result of this project a joint paper 'International Collaborative Design Projects' was presented at the 2016 30. Congress of the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS). In 2020 a joint team was awarded 2nd place for its aircraft design by the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA). Read article.
Master students at HAW Hamburg also have the opportunity to complete their Master thesis as part of a research team at Virginia Tech. As part of the collaborative database Virginia Tech professors can offer Master thesis topics within their research fields.
It is also planned to develop the opportunity for excellent Hamburg students to do their doctor thesis in collaboration with Virginia Tech.
Faculty exchange - Guest lectures and research
Guest visits have taken place at both universities since 2014. Each year colleagues from different fields within aerospace have the opportunity to talk about their particular areas of expertise in lectures, to network and strengthen the partnership between the universities. The worldwide reputation of Virginia Tech strengthens the teaching profile in Hamburg and the collaboration is also a platform for new ideas in research.
In the winter semester 2021/22, the first online course was offered by Virginia Tech at HAW Hamburg. Prof. Pat Artis shared his great expertise in booster design (Generation SpaceX) as part of his eight-week course "Space & Trade Spaces". The course is credited as an elective module at HAW Hamburg. Read article. Midterm, other areas of joint expertise are to be used to develop additional courses and carry out joint research projects.
The cooperation with Virginia Tech is also recognised as a strategic partnership by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and since 2018 has received funding through its ISAP programme. Through this funding HAW Hamburg students receive a full scholarship for a semester at Virginia Tech. In addition, the universities receive travel funding to support faculty exchange.