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Co-operation with the Industry by doing a Dual Degree Course


Academic year: 2021

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Co-operation with the Industry by doing a Dual Degree Course Dietrich Hoeborn and Gabriele Hoeborn

University of Wuppertal, Faculty of Engineering (D) 42119 Wuppertal, Gaußstr. 20

Tel. +49202 439-3305 and -4074, Fax +492024392059


The industry asks for co-operation with the universities on the one hand and t he students and the teaching staff on the other ask for cooperation with industry.

Offering dual degree courses by the university is a possibility to organize a co -operation for industry and engineering degree courses. The dual degree course offers on the one hand the possibility to study and to pass a bachelor degree and on the other hand it offers the possibility to do an apprenticeship at the same time, this means that the students reach two degrees. In this paper different offers by industry going along with the offer of the degree course of civil engineering are presented. The experiences and demands of the students are shown as results. But the experiences and demands of the industry part ners are presented as well. As an overall view the evaluation of the teaching stuff is given.

The methodology is based on qualitative interviews with the students, employers and

university stuff. The dual degree course started three years ago so that sub stantial results exist offering a basis for evaluation.

Best practice is presented and proposals and recommendations are given.

Keywords: dual degree course, best practice, co-operation with industry, attractiveness of degree course

1 Introduction

Engineering degree courses do not seem to be such attractive for students. The number of students in engineering degree courses is not really increasing. Nevertheless engineers are needed all over Europe and all over the world. In many countries engineers even g et a high salary. These requirements and chances for success do not attract students to study engineering degree courses. The universities carried out different approaches to attract these degree courses and to increase the number of students.

On the other hand the industry itself is interested in getting engineers . Therefore the Faculty of Engineering (D), the department of civil engineering of the University of Wuppertal installed a dual degree course. A dual degree course means that students do an appren ticeship and a study at the same time. The industry offers places for apprenticeship in special fields


concerning engineering degree courses. This is e. g. in the field of carpenter or railway construction or concrete worker , just to mention a few fields. For students having a higher education entrance qualification an apprenticeship usually is up to two years and it ends by passing a practical and a theoretical exam. Doing an apprenticeship offers practical experience. In combination with the studies it ne eds three years. The bachelor degree usually takes three years at the department of civil engineering in Wuppertal. In combination with the apprenticeship it needs four years .

Double Degree A p p re n ti c e s h ip B a c h e lo r 4 Y e a rs

Figure 1: Dual Degree Course in Civil Engineerin g

In July 2008 the department of mechanical engineering is going to offer a dual degree course, too. The model is quite similar to the one at the department of civil engineering.

The dual degree course is not comparable to any other kind of educational tra ining. It is a reality close education like it is offered by universities of applied sciences or by universities of cooperative education. Neither the universities of applied sciences nor the universities of cooperative education offer the possibility of d oing an apprenticeship, this offer is just given by the dual degree course. So, the dual degree course is no competition to the existing degree courses at all kinds of universities. The dual degree course is a complement to the already existing degree courses at all kinds of universities, it is an additional offer for students by industry and the university of Wuppertal. But this offer is not only supporting students. The industry is encouraged by having industrial trainees who get theoretical and practical knowledge at the same time. The students can apply their theoretical knowledge during their

apprenticeships, the level of industrial education is higher as concerning ‘normal’ industrial

trainees. On the other hand the students get a better access to thei r studies caused by their practical experiences. The studies can be based on a n established and substantiated practical knowledge and experience given by the apprenticeship.


2 Achievement of the Dual Degree Course

The students start at the beginning of Jun e with their apprenticeship, at this time the work full time at the industry. Middle of October the semester starts and the students work for t hree days in the industry and they study for t wo days till the end of semester which is approximately in the midd le of February. Then the students start to work full time on their apprenticeship again. The second semester starts about middle of April and ends about middle of July. During that time the students study at two days at the university and work for three days at the industrial apprenticeship.

Then the second phase is starting including the third and fourth semester. During that time the students study three days per week at the university and they are out for apprenticeship just for two days.

During the fifth semester they study full time and during the sixth semester they finish their apprenticeship by passing a practical and theoretical exam.

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Year S tu id e s a p p re n ti c e s h ip 1 .d e g re e p a s s in g a p p re tn ic e s h ip 2 .d e g re e B a c h e lo r S tu d ie s a p p re n ti c e s h ip

Figure 2: Time Schedule of Dual Degree Course

For the last two semesters they are ju st students, studying full time and writing their bachelor thesis in the eighth semester.


3 Industry 2 Uni 2 Industry 3 Uni fulltime Studies Bachelor Theses fulltime Studies passing apprenticeship

Figure 3: Time Schedule for Reaching the Apprenticeship Degree and the Bachelor Degree Figure 3 shows that the students pass their app renticeship degree after three years, and even if they drop out of university they have a full degree at this time. And after passing one more year of studies and passing their bachelor thesis the students are engineers having a bachelor degree and having an apprenticeship degree at the same time.

3 Important advantages of the dual degree courses for students

There are advantages which are obvious and can be seen by reading the given data. - The students get a double qualification (apprenticeship and study)

- The students save time. The two educations are parallel and overlapping. Usually the students would need two years for apprenticeship and another three years for the studies, which leads to five years. But the dual degree course just leads up to four years. So they save about one year.

- Apprenticeship is paid by a salary in Germany. Therefore the students earn some money while studying, at least for the first three years.

- The theoretical knowledge which is offered to students during studying is interleaved with their practical experiences by apprenticeship. They have the opportunity to see in praxis what they talk about during their studies.

- Caused by their theoretical knowledge they get overlapping with their practical knowledge the students learn very early to work like engineers, they learn and experience it during education time.


- While doing their apprenticeship the students get into contact with enterprises, because concerning the German system the apprenticeship is done in companies. These contacts may lead to employment contracts for the bachelor engineers later on.

As a kind of evaluation the students were interviewed about their motivations to choose the dual degree course and about their experiences. The students had been interviewed by television as well, the film can be seen at www.bauing.uni-wuppertal.de.

The students are quite enthusiastic about th eir dual degree course. Drop off is about zero. The students have a special offer by Deutsche Bahn. T hey get the possibility to do an apprenticeship at DB and they get the guarantee of a job after passing their studies. This is a

‘good feeling’ as the students told.

The students are aware that the dual degree course offers the possibility of learning abo ut companies, their structures and their way of thinking at the same time as they achieve their theoretical knowledge as a basis of engineering work. The students are aware of getting two very different abilities at the same time: the knowledge of leadersh ip and the practical experiences.

Some of the students are not quite sure if they are able to pass the studies and they feel safer by doing a second qualification at the same time.

The point of getting a small salary during apprenticeship is an attractive argument as well, because it is quite common in Germany for students that the have to earn some money to finance their studies. Usually these jobs lead to a longer duration of studies.

4 Best Practice

The University of Wuppertal has been the first univers ity offering a dual degree course for students in a department of civil engineering. This is the offer to get a bachelor degree for civil engineering with a practical orientation. The increasing number of students shows that the double degree course is att ractive for students. The students do not drop off , which is quite uncommon in Germany, also leads to the result of having installed an attractive degree course.

To quote some students’ voices: “By doing the apprenticeship, one can see before one’s eyes,

what we talking about and what we are calculating and designing. This is really helpful.” “To get a salary is quite great, we get an apprenticeship salary. This is really relaxing.”

The teaching staff evaluates the degree course as an example of best practi ce as well.

Concerning the evaluation of the employer the degree course is an example of good practice as well. Their experiences with the students are quite good on the one hand and on the other hand the take profit of the know -how coming from the univers ity directly and permanently into the enterprise by the students. Very often bachelor theses are written in co -operation with the company where the students did their apprenticeship.

The DB Netz has got a contract with the department of civil engineering a nd it offers a certain amount of apprenticeship places for the dual degree course on the one hand and on the other


hand it ascertains jobs for students when passing their bachelor degrees. The DB Netz does all the advertisement to recruit students, and it does a selection of the applicants. This is very marvellous offer for the department of civil engineering as well as for the students.

These results lead to a second double degree course which has been installed in the department of mechanical engineering. It is going to start in 2008.


“Good Practice by offering a Dual Degree Course” Dietrich und Gabriele Hoeborn , Sefi 2007, Miskolc


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