Global Ingenuity 21


The Global Ingenuity 21 Program is a 2-week cross-cultural, engineering design 'think tank' in Germany, offered exclusively to Rodman Scholars each summer. The group of Rodman Scholars selected for the program join engineering students at the Technical University of Braunschweig in solving a unique engineering design problem posed by the program's sponsor, Volkswagen Group of America. In addition to providing a unique opportunity to experience the thrill and challenge of cross-cultural engineering design, the GI21 program enables participants to explore Germany's culture, history and architecture.

Begun in the summer of 2010, the Global Ingenuity 21 Program is now entering its fourth summer being offered. The program is a 3-credit course that counts directly for UVa credit as a technical elective. Volkswagen Group of America covers all program costs while in Germany, leaving students responsible only for airfare, tuition and the cost of some meals. Please contact Professor Dana Elzey ( if you have any questions about the program.

The Trip

The core experience of the trip is the cross-cultural think-tank which occurs at the Technical University of Braunschweig in Braunschweig, Germany. There, Rodmans and German engineers work to find a solution to a problem provided by Volkswagen which varies from year to year. The students are given the responsibility of organizing themselves in the pursuit of the best possible solution they can find. This process can be challenging to work through and gives students a taste of the types of situations that face engineers on a regular basis. At the end of the two weeks, the think-tank presents its solution to representatives of Volkswagen, whom they have impressed year after year.

As important as the academic work done in the course are the relationships the American and German students develop with one another. The long hours spent together in the think-tank gives Americans and Germans alike an understanding of what it means to be a student and an engineer in the other country, and how that affects the way the students approach situations in the classroom and in life. While Rodmans who participate are not required to know German, the German students have to spend much of their time speaking in English — a second, third, or fourth language for most of them — which can make communication difficult at times. All of these factors give students an idea of what it is like to be a citizen and an engineer in an increasingly globalized society.

Last, but not least, the program allows students to experience many areas of Germany. While based in the city of Braunschweig, GI21 includes cultural excursions to Dresden and Berlin, providing a different perspective on German culture and society. Guided tours of the cities reveal their deep history, and students make use of free time to explore the city and experience things such as the Berlin Wall, the Green Vault, and the Dresden Philharmonic, to name a few.


Global Ingenuity 21 has been featured in the following publications:


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