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Studying engineering abroad? How to maximise your experience

Here’s some, but by no means all, of the top tips for selecting an Engineering institute abroad. But before we explore that, what’s the deal with studying abroad in the first place?

Updated: Aug 31, 2018 18:19:46

By Carl Hastings

Young girl fixing a robot arm in a workshop. (Getty Images)

The choice to pursue your engineering studies abroad is a daunting one, yet one that can reap rewards beyond academics if you take advice from teachers and students who teach or study from foreign universities. Here’s some, but by no means all, of the top tips for selecting an Engineering institute abroad. But before we explore that, what’s the deal with studying abroad in the first place?

Living and studying in another country can be a hugely beneficial experience for your personal development. Being taken outside of your comfort zone and not being able to rely on the safety net of your family and friends teaches you valuable skills in self-reliance and independence. Besides this, studying abroad gives you the opportunity to meet a variety of new people and experience new cultures, forming new friendships and expanding your horizons in an increasingly globalised world. Particularly for engineering students, the opportunity to build international networks in their industry is priceless.

However, this experience is not one to be taken without careful consideration. It can be an intimidating experience adjusting to a new cuisine, norms and environments. Additionally, studying abroad is an expensive endeavour. You’ll need to make sure you properly budget for all your expenses including those for accommodation, food, travel and course fees. You will also want to pick a university that will best suit your personal and career goals, here are some important criteria:

Diversity of programs available



Whether you’re interested in the more classical fields such as civil or mechanical engineering, or some of the newer and more cutting-edge ones like photovoltaics and software engineering, it’s always good to have variety at your fingertips. One can often get an idea of the calibre of an engineering institute from the range of programs it offers. The cross-disciplinary exchange and access to top-class facilities offered by large engineering schools are priceless in terms of value added to your overseas study experience.



Connections with industry

Let’s be realistic, most of us aren’t studying engineering just for the fun of it. Though you most likely have a strong passion for your chosen area of studies, it’s important to look to the next step involving work experience and getting connected with the industry at large. When choosing an engineering university or institution, look for those that display a range of deep and strong connections with industry. These connections could take the forms of industry-sponsored career development and networking events held regularly, funding and donations for school facilities and various research projects, as well as staff positions and bodies at the school which are sponsored by various organisations in the industry. A well-connected engineering institute indicates one that is in touch with current real-world developments and equipped with best-practice industry knowledge. It’s also a vote of confidence in the school by an industry that knows where it’s best quality graduates come from!

School reputation and ranking

The ranking isn’t everything, but it can be a great indication of a school’s overall performance in generating cutting-edge research and delivering quality teaching to its students. Don’t just look at an engineering university’s overall ranking, also take note of the ranking of the university in the specific fields that interest you, for example, electrical or chemical engineering. Sometimes all-round decent engineering faculties actually excel in certain areas, due to the presence of particular facilities or expertise. If you just looked at the overall ranking of the university, you might miss the chance to study with a school that excels in your field of interest.

Campus life and vibes

Last, but by no means least, how does the quality of life on campus at an engineering faculty stack up? Studying engineering can be a long and arduous journey, and it’s great to be able to break up those late nights working on assignments and long class hours with some fun and social activities. Campus “life” simply refers to everything that happens at a university outside of all the academic stuff and includes social nights, clubs and societies, sports, markets, food and the general vibe of the place. Check out what else is happening at the Engineering universities you’re considering to make sure you have a well-rounded and rewarding experience of studying abroad.

Innovation

Great engineering institutes are never standing still, always looking to innovate and change the way they deliver content and approach new research challenges. In this world in which change and disruption are accelerating like never before, you’ll be well-placed to consider a school that will equip you with the skills you need to be flexible and adaptive in the workplace of the future. At the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, a wide range of opportunities for students to become involved in student-led projects such as the world-record breaking solar car, Sunswift, and the BlueSat program exploring space technology are many.

In all, studying engineering abroad is a thoroughly rewarding and developmental experience that can be beneficial in many ways. These are just a few pointers to assist people embarking on this rich journey; however, it is encouraged to conduct thorough research into any overseas institution to make sure you get the most out of this experience!

(Hastings is completing his bachelor of civil engineering (hons)/commerce (finance) degree from the University of New South Wales. Views expressed here are personal.)

First Published: Aug 31, 2018 18:14:51

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