If you’re interested in engineering, like to explore other languages and cultures, and want to succeed in an increasingly global job market, the international studies and engineering dual major may be a perfect fit. There are a few similar programs at other colleges; however, the Lafayette program is designed to be completed in at most four years plus a summer with careful advising.
This major is designed to allow students to earn a B.S. degree in chemical, civil, electrical and computer, or mechanical engineering and an A.B. degree in international studies that combines foreign language, literature, government, law, art, economics, and history.
Students choose a language of concentration and take courses that help them develop an in-depth cultural understanding of a country or region where the language is spoken. Lafayette has excellent area studies programs in Asian studies, French, German, and Spanish.
Full immersion in a foreign culture after language study has been completed serves as the capstone experience for the major. Students either study or work abroad in a country where their chosen language is spoken. The capstone experience can be completed in several ways, and is often completed during the summer before or after the senior year. (Need-based financial aid is typically not available for summer programs.)
The program is directed by a chair and an advisory committee. Members are selected for their knowledge, interest, and experience in international areas.
Introduction to International Politics
International Affairs Seminar (or equivalent seminar)
Foreign Culture Immersion Experience
Foreign Language (to the advanced level)
Other humanities and social sciences courses
Completion of degree requirements for B.S. in chemical, civil, electrical and computer, or mechanical engineering
Students are encouraged to study abroad and/or participate in Lafayette courses abroad during interim sessions.
The Lafayette programs based in Bremen, Germany, and Madrid, Spain, are designed for second-semester sophomore engineering students so that they may study abroad for a full semester with only minimal changes in the sequence of required engineering courses. There are other semester-abroad opportunities with affiliated programs depending on your academic background and interests.
Each year, Lafayette faculty members offer six to eight three-week courses abroad during the January interim term and in May. Each course counts for one course credit. With five other local colleges, Lafayette also participates in seven-week summer language study programs in Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Spain. Faculty members help students select a program and prepare for the experience.
Students use the language laboratory in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures to study their chosen language. The multimedia facility has a wide array of self-instructive software and a collection of contemporary foreign films and audio and DVD’s about the culture and literature of countries around the world. For example, you can use the software to begin a guided reading program on the text of a French novel. You can highlight an unfamiliar word, receive the definition, and hear it pronounced. Maps and photographs illustrate the story, as does Quick Time video. Native speakers and/or advanced language students are also available to help.
Engineers with proficiency in a second language and an understanding of foreign cultures are well prepared for engineering and technical positions overseas, or with American companies that have international branches. Students typically secure jobs or continue graduate study in their engineering field.
Leonard A. Van Gulick
Matthew Baird Professor and Program Chair, International Studies and Engineering