Gilman-DAAD scholarship student at HAW Hamburg

Benjamin Brobbey is a fourth-year electrical engineering co-op student at Drexel University, USA. In September 2022 he came to Germany to complete a study and internship year at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW Hamburg). He was one of the first recipients of a Gilman-DAAD scholarship.

Male student in front of a university building

Benjamin Brobbey, Drexel University exchange student, 2023

'The focus of my electrical engineering degree at Drexel is power and energy systems, where I would like to have a career in design, operations or management when I graduate. As I am enrolled in the co-op programme at Drexel, I always wanted to do a co-op abroad, so this influenced me to find a programme that would allow me to study and work in an international environment. I got this opportunity through the UAS7 consortium of German universities of applied sciences and their study and internship programme (SIP).

Of the seven possible universities, I chose HAW Hamburg because they offer classes that are closely related to the ones I would have taken at Drexel. So, finding course equivalencies was an easy process. Hamburg is also a beautiful city with a lot of nature and that made HAW Hamburg more attractive for me.

I took classes in engineering, project and business management, as well as a German class. I was involved in a number of group projects and excursions, and the professors went into a lot of depth with their topics, which was nice. I loved the fact that we didn’t have homework, so I could keep up with course content at my own pace. Through the German class I have managed to improve my German language skills to A2 and even B1 when it comes to understanding what people are saying. Chatting regularly with my flatmate from the Ivory Coast has also helped widen my vocabulary.

For me, a key goal of my year abroad was finding an internship and experiencing work life in an international team. Admittedly, I underestimated the timeline of finding an internship in a new country with a very different internship culture. Companies really take their time to screen candidates in Germany, so when I heard back from some for interviews it was a little too late for my timeline. In the end I found an internship on campus, which I was very happy about.

I have been working at the HAW Hamburg Research and Transfer Centre for Sustainable Development and Climate Change Management. This is a fast-paced team of experts from different scientific backgrounds involved in numerous EU projects at a time. They are very international, and I enjoyed supporting and learning various project management skills from them. I had to get to know the projects quickly in order to be of use to the team, but this wasn’t hard, as the projects were very interesting, each having their own focus on sustainability. I learned a lot about plastic alternatives and about the circular economy, as well as best practices at different levels of governance (household, businesses, local authorities). The team was very supportive and provided very useful professional and personal advice over the course of my internship, which will help shape my decisions in the future.

Studying abroad in Germany has given me a lot of new options for my future. I am now aware of academic and professional opportunities that would greatly improve my employability when I graduate from Drexel.

I am originally from Ghana, where I lived for 10 years before emigrating to the United States with my family in 2013. And now I have lived in Germany for 10 months. The exposure to many different cultures over the years before my exchange made it a bit easier to adapt and navigate here in Germany. Though I would say it was still not entirely easy and I have learned a lot about myself in the process. I tend to pick and choose when to be social, so being surrounded by lots of people all the time was a pleasant challenge. It forced me to confront the reserved part of myself on many occasions, and a lot of the time it was definitely worth it.

Studying abroad in Germany has given me a lot of new options for my future. I am now aware of academic and professional opportunities, such as Master’s and industry-trainee programmes, that would greatly improve my employability when I graduate from Drexel, so I am considering coming back to do a Master’s in Germany. In terms of personal development, I believe I have grown to be more solution-oriented, adaptable and flexible. I had an “ideal plan” for my year in Germany, and when certain aspects weren’t working, I was able to come up with alternatives that led to solutions that still benefited my experience.

In addition to the UAS7 travel stipend, I was honoured to be awarded one of the first 40 Gilman-DAAD scholarships, which helped fund my semester in Hamburg. It also gave me access to a number of events hosted by the scholarship programme during my time in Germany, as well as attractive employment options, and it is a nice feature for my resumé.

I think more engineering students should study abroad in order to expose themselves to different opportunities and industries they may not be aware of. Trying a new educational system can also help with ideas of how you want to proceed in your educational career, and breaking out of a familiar environment and comfort zone can help with these realisations. As engineers there are a lot of cool things to get involved in everywhere.'



Co-op: a five-year study and internship programme where students alternate between study and internship terms
Gilman-DAAD scholarship: Website
UAS7 Consortium:


Ingrid Weatherall
USA Strategy
International Office