Making the Grade Abroad

Students making the most of overseas opportunities

FOR MORE THAN A DECADE, Wentworth architecture students have traded Boston for Berlin for a semester. Each year, nearly 100 Wentworth students travel to the German capital for a full semester of design studio, two architecture electives, and one humanities elective—the same curriculum as their peers in Boston. Students also travel elsewhere in Europe to visit sites that relate to their work. Previous trips have included Prague, Rome, Venice, and Hamburg.

Wentworth students pose outside of the site of the former Bauhaus art school in Germany

Wentworth students pose outside of the site of the former Bauhaus art school in Germany (Photo Credit: Jonathan Holland)

Wentworth’s first architecture study-abroad programs were hatched decades ago. Travel concerns after September 11, 2001, led to a wane in student interest, but the Berlin semester-abroad program was re-launched in 2002.

“Many [Wentworth students] who travel to Berlin have never left the U.S., and when they go home, they return with broader horizons,” says program director Rolf Backmann.

“The three-month program gave me a chance to live what I had previously only seen in slide presentations during lecture class,” says Alex Cabral, BSA ’10, MARC ’11. “It provided energy to think bigger, produce better and work harder.”

The Berlin program has proven a massive success for Wentworth, leading to the development of several other international initiatives, including an option for architecture students to study in Montpellier, France, as well a program for industrial design and interior design students in Berlin. This summer, the Institute plans to launch a program for construction management students, also in Berlin.

Susan Paris, associate provost for academic operations, and other administrators are speaking with the various colleges about adding more study-abroad options. Paris notes that when she came to Wentworth four years ago, the Institute had the lowest enrollment of study-abroad students in the Colleges of the Fenway; today Wentworth boasts the highest.

“[The engineering program] has had the most recent growth,” she says, “and they have built programs to specifically create room for study abroad within the curriculum.”

Fred Driscoll, dean of the College of Engineering and Technology, says that there has always been a strong desire among his students to study internationally, but that course requirements have made it difficult for students to leave campus. Today, students in the interdisciplinary engineering program have some leeway in regard to how and when they complete their major course work. Engineering students have already taken classes in Kingston University in London and at Lucerne University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland.

“For our graduates to be the next generation of leaders, supervisors, and project managers—in global companies—they really need the international experience,” says Driscoll. “And it allows students from different majors and different countries to develop a mindset for collaboration.”

Greg Abazorius

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