Study Electrical Engineering in Germany
In terms of the total volume of exports, Germany ranks first worldwide. A recent study by the professional body VDE (the German Association for Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies) revealed that computer and electro engineers’ expertise is incorporated in over 50% of all exported products. Particularly the creation and maintenance of knowledge-intensive enabling technologies, which form an integral part in all sectors of the production and service industries, require a sound basis of electro and computer engineering skills.
Study Electrical Engineering in Germany
The car industry serves as a prevalent example among many where the combination of microelectronic hardware and innovative software already constitutes a large part of the business. 25 - 30% of the value of a car consists of electronics and software. Over fifty percent of the newly hired engineers have an electrical engineering or information technology background. In fact, the demand for electrical engineers in the German industry exceeds the number of university leavers by far. Consequently, the German job market presents itself as an “applicants” market. Annual salaries for entrants start at € 40 000.
With such favorable conditions, Germany has become a highly attractive place to study Electrical and Computer Engineering and related majors, for Bachelor, Master, or PhD degrees. Thanks to standardized European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) changing to a German university is now a much less complex process. Since, at many German universities, Master Courses are offered in English the language barrier decreased. At most universities Master and PhD thesis can be submitted in English.
In contrast to the Chemical industry, the Electronics and Information Technology industries do not necessarily expect a PhD degree from a German university. In fact, an increasing percentage of university graduates seek (and find) employment with a Bachelor’s degree. Most employers already recognized the advantage of young entrants. Starting a career at a comparatively young age (23 or below), allows them time to develop their career within the company.
For the Bachelor’s degree, as a rule, German language proficiency is required. The International University Bremen (IUB) is an exception: The language of instruction for all bachelor’s degrees is English. The IUB student body represents more than 80 nations (with only about 15% of the students coming from Germany). All students live on campus in residential colleges in a stimulating environment of high diversity.
Since September 2006, there are three electrical engineering and information technology related majors offered:
- Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) - The combination of “traditional” Electrical Engineering and Software / Computer engineering is regarded essential to answer the demand for engineers that can work on both the software and hardware parts of digital (or mixed analogue digital) systems, which nowadays are part and parcel of almost all electronics systems.
- Electrical Engineering and Computer Science - Equal weight on Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
- Computer Science - Information technology with an additional electrical engineering background.
To match this in research, 2 graduate programs, “Communication, Systems and Electronics” and “Smart Systems” are offered. These programs give students the opportunity to take part in leading edge research projects in Communication Networks and Systems, Micro- and Optical Electronics, Control, Robotics and Embedded Systems, Knowledge and Information Management Systems. Master and PhD students from these programs have continued their careers with global industrial players and internationally recognized research institutions.
A survey of the VDE has shown that electrical engineers do not merely work in research and development, although R&D proves to be the most popular entry point into a company. The large majority of engineers will be working in Production, Supply Management and Sourcing (increasingly important in an industry where typically 50 – 70% of the final product are being purchased as components or partial systems), Sales and Marketing, Quality Management, Service and Management. Therefore, prospective employers in the electronic and most other industries are looking for university graduates who, in addition to excellence in their field of specialization, have demonstrable methodical, personal and social skills. Students should therefore allocate some of their time to Interdisciplinary Studies, given that the inability to look beyond the field of specialization and to work in teams rank high in the skill gaps that many employers cited in the VDE survey.
To address this shortcoming, many German Universities offer and advertise a wide range of electives like Physics, Chemistry or other Natural Sciences and rather novel non-compulsory courses such as Economics, legal and social lectures to inspire transferable skills. Furthermore, several universities offer many opportunities to engage in extracurricular activities, which may also help to develop social competencies and to facilitate transdisciplinary approaches.
At IUB transdisciplinarity underlines the undergraduate curriculum. A certain number of credits have to be gained in courses of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences or from University Studies Courses (USCs), which are jointly held by professors from Engineering and Science and from the Humanities and Social Sciences. The development of social competencies is built into IUB’s study-system, as every undergraduate student is required to live in one of the three colleges on campus. Since most large corporations operate globally, IUB's unique environment helps to prepare students for a workplace of high diversity. IUB recently obtained an award by the Mercator Foundation for its achievement in this area.
Students should ideally bring practical “hands on” experience along when they graduate. IUB’s curriculum comprises a considerable amount of lab work excelling that of most German universities. In addition to this, bachelor students are required to pursue an internship (Werkstudent, Praktikant) over the summer months to develop further practical skills.
Finally, studying Electrical Engineering and Information Technologies in Germany is affordable: Tuition fees at German universities are, compared to international standards, very moderate, moreover a great number of institutions and funding bodies offer scholarships to talented students. At IUB, as a private university, fees are considerably higher than at state universities; however admission is need-blind, loans are available to every admitted student, as well as merit based scholarships for exceptional candidates.
The bottom line is: Studying Electrical and Computer Engineering in Germany is highly recommendable and the career opportunities are excellent.