Carnegie Mellon University

RWTH Aachen, Germany

Carnegie Mellon began an exchange program with RWTH Aachen University in Germany in September 1995. This program is for Chemical Engineering students and involves an exchange with the Lehrstuhl für Prozesstechnik at Aachen.  Every year about three students may participate in this program.

The RWTH exchange program offers very exciting opportunities to those students who are interested in spending their junior year abroad.  RWTH is one of the leading schools in Europe in engineering and manufacturing.   Students applying to this program can apply for a summer internship at Bayer Corporation prior to going to Aachen as Bayer is interested in U.S. students that get some training in Germany.  Also, there is the possibility of either doing research at RWTH, or working with a company in Germany in the summer before you join. Aachen is a nice historic and pleasant city that is located on the border in the western part of Germany, right next to the Netherlands and to Belgium. 

The RWTH exchange program has similar arrangements as the ones with Imperial College. Students pay regular tuition to Carnegie Mellon, and a $400 fee per semester in Aachen for a travel ticket for the North Rhine-Westphalia area.  Housing costs are of the order of 300-350 Euros per month, and food about 400-450 Euros per month.  In addition, a 6-week German course will be available before the semester starts in early October.

The courses that Chemical Engineering students will take at RWTH, and that are nearly equivalent to the ones in your junior year here at Carnegie Mellon, are the following:

06-321 ChemE Thermodynamics

Thermodynamik der Gemische

06-323 Heat and Mass Transfer

*Wärme-und Stoffübertragung

06-361 Unit Operations

Grundlagen der Verfahrenstechnik

06-363 Transport Processes Laboratory

To be arranged with RWTH ChemE faculty

06-364 Chemical Reaction Engineering


06-300 Junior Research

To be arranged with RWTH ChemE faculty

09-217 Organic Chemistry

Organische Chemie I

09-347 Advanced Physical Chemistry

Physikalische Chemie A

03-232 Biochemistry

Biotechnology   I

06-463 Chemical Product Design

*Chemical Product Design

06-464 Chemical Eng Process Control

*Control Engineering

*Courses taught in English

Basic knowledge of German language is required.


If you are interested in this exchange program, please contact Nora Siewiorek.  The deadline for the application is the Friday after you return from winter break.


Feedback from CMU students        

As a CMU student living in Germany, I had opportunities and experiences rarely afforded most American students.  Living in Europe and coping with everyday tasks in a foreign language is both challenging and rewarding, and dealing with the bureaucracy of a different society makes each day a learning experience.  RWTH is an internationally renowned technical university, and many of the professors are known throughout Europe.  The German educational system allows students a great deal of freedom to tailor their course of study, and students are expected to use sources outside of class to supplement their education. 

In addition, opportunities to add to my education abroad in other ways abounded.  While really submerged in the culture, I learned a new way of thinking and found that there are other points of view on international problems and issues that had never before occurred to me.  Living with other German students also helped me to learn the language quickly and easily.  Because Aachen is such a large university and attracts students from all over the world, I made many good friends whose backgrounds are vastly different from my own.  I even got to learn some Swedish.  Furthermore, the very central location of Aachen allowed me the opportunity to travel all over Europe.  The historic significance of Aachen encouraged me to develop an interest in European history.

The exchange taught me how to be successful in a new and unfamiliar environment, allowed me to be truly independent both socially and academically, and really broadened my perspective on the world.  I believe that living overseas and taking classes in German has given me abilities sought after in the job market and will make me more employable in the future.  Not to mention, it was one of the best years of my life!

Meredith Welsh


When I first arrived in Aachen, Germany, I’ll admit I was a bit anxious about my academic situation. Chemical engineering in German? Sounds difficult! With only several years of high school German and one college class in the subject, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to handle junior-level chemical engineering coursework in another language. I brought a tape recorder with the fear of recording every lecture. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. I left my first German lecture in Thermo II thinking, “Wow, I actually understood some of that!”

In short: it was an amazing experience. The intensive German course before the term started was a perfect meeting ground for exchange students. I quickly made friends with British students, Swedes, Finns, and even a Bosnian girl. There are students from every country of Europe at RWTH Aachen, and you’ll never be lacking in diversity.

I had a great living situation, sharing an apartment with a German student whose roommate had come to CMU for the year. Living with a native speaker really helped my German immeasurably, and he introduced me to his friends and around town. The university will help you find housing before you arrive in Aachen, so move-in was very easy.

For those with wanderlust, Aachen is in a great location. Direct high speed trains to Paris in three hours. Fifty euro flights from nearby Cologne fly all over Europe. My “Bahncard” gave me 50% discounts on all German train tickets for my year there. The possibilities are virtually endless. You could even take the train to China if you got a Russian travel visa for the Siberian railway. I don’t actually recommend that, however!

How did I take advantage of my time in Europe? I made many a toast at Oktoberfest in Munich. I stood on the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, England. I had the best croissants of my life in Paris. Rode the Glacier Express through the mountains of Switzerland. Played golf in the Scottish Highlands. Skied over the border of Italy in the shadow of the Matterhorn. Saw curling at the Winter Olympics in Torino. Climbed Mt. Etna in a cloud of volcanic gas. Spent New Year’s Eve at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Listened to jazz on the shores of Lake Geneva on a warm summer night. Needless to say, being in Europe afforded me many opportunities that a year in Pittsburgh couldn’t.

I came back from Europe with all my course requirements fulfilled, a marketable ability to speak German, a wealth of experience, and some lasting friends. Don’t let ties in Pittsburgh or worries of the language keep you from studying abroad.

William Nicoll