“The best experience of my life – and the best thing about it was the people I met in the courses,” says Pedro from Costa Rica. His fellow student Seung Ye from Korea chimes in: “If I had the chance to do it again, I definitely would.” Pedro and Seung Ye are talking about the multi-week Summer and Winter University at Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin). The program has been running since 2015. “This format is becoming more and more popular,” says Beth Sibly of TUBS GmbH, a subsidiary company fully owned by the University and which organizes the courses on its behalf. “The two to four-week intensive courses we offer are proving very popular. There are a lot of students who want to gain experience of living abroad without having to commit to a whole semester.”
This is borne out by the success of the program. In winter 2018/19, 81 students from 21 countries took part in the program. In winter semester 2019/20, this had risen to 128 students from 29 countries. “We owe this increase chiefly to the wide range of courses on offer in STEM disciplines (technical and natural sciences). Alongside our focus on practical-technical aspects, this is what makes our program special,” says Beth Sibly.
During the last Winter University, participating students learned about and tried out 3D printing, gained an insight into artificial intelligence research, constructed satellites for the Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, designed their own games using virtual reality and took part in a crash course for startups, where they developed their own pitch and presented it to actual investors.
New projects are added ever year. For example, in summer 2018 the students designed and constructed furniture for a communal building for refugees in Kreuzberg, working together with the University´s Institute of Architecture´s Design-Build Studio. Courses are generally better visited in summer than winter when it is more difficult for students to attend. Students from Australia and Asia, however, like the winter courses as they generally have January free.
Beth Sibly comes from Australia herself and has traveled to many corners of the world. She worked in China for a number of years, including in the personnel and continuing education department of Mercedes-Benz. She came to Berlin ten years ago to set up an international MBA program and to learn German. Then, three years ago, she began working with TUBS GmbH to develop the Summer and Winter University program.
Until now, TU Berlin has only offered a few of these courses in English. “A University-wide ‘open call’ has enabled us to develop a wide range of courses with ECTS credit points,” Beth Sibly explains.
Her real pride and joy is the accompanying cultural program. This is very attractive for the participating students and is also greatly valued by their own universities for whom political-cultural education plays a big role when selecting programs. “The visit to the Reichstag is a big hit and this year´s outing to the DDR Museum also went over really well. But we also offer sports programs, such as a trip to see an Eisbären Berlin ice-hockey game.
Many of the participants are from Germany. Like their fellow students from abroad, they enjoy the international atmosphere and the opportunity to develop contacts and friendships with people from all over the world. As Marieliz from Puerto Rico puts it: “In addition to academic knowledge, you also learn a lot about yourself by studying at TU Berlin, about different cultures, about Berlin and people from all over the world!”
The Summer and Winter University offers online and on-campus courses, which take place in July/August and January. For more information about the Summer and Winter University programs click here.