A new grant will help Hope College develop internship experiences in Germany for students in engineering.

The three-year grant has been given through the German American Initiative for Students in Science and Technology (GIST) program of the German Academic Exchange Service. Hope is the only liberal arts college among this year's 10 grant recipients.

Through the award, which totals approximately $20,000, Hope will create an on-going program that will feature a semester of study in Freiburg, Germany, followed by a summer-long internship with a German corporation. The program will also provide an opportunity for students from Germany to study and intern in West Michigan.

"As internationalization in business increases, it is important to build up cross-cultural understanding," said Dr. Lee Forester, associate professor of German, who is co-administering the project with Dr. Roger Veldman of the Hope engineering faculty. "German engineering companies are some of the most important in the world, and there is a big need for engineering majors who are technically trained and understand German engineering and Germans."

The program is particularly appropriate given Hope's West Michigan locale, according to Forester, who noted that several area companies have ties to Germany. As planning continues, he and Veldman are hoping to find ways to involve area firms in the effort, including perhaps as internship sites for students from Germany.

One challenge for students in the sciences in particular, Forester said, is that the extensive requirements for the major can make it difficult to spend a semester away. As part of the planning, he and Veldman intend to help tailor the semester in Germany to include courses that will help meet requirements in Hope's engineering program.

According to Forester, Hope has chosen Freiburg to take advantage of existing contacts. The college has already been sending students to the city for several years through a program offered by the Institute for the International Education of Students.

The new initiative, which will be in place in time for the 2004-05 school year, is being designed for students who will be in their junior year. Requirements will include not only a major in engineering, but also at least two years of college-level German.

The GIST program is funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the German Federal Government. In addition to Hope, the institutions to receive grants were: the American Association for Practical Training; the University of Colorado; Georgia Institute of Technology; Lawrence Technological University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the University of Michigan; the University of Pittsburgh; the University of Rhode Island; and Rose Hulman Institute of Technology.