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Graduate of Eurotech
now holds job in Germany
November 2, 1998

Brian Schwegler likes to think ahead.

He was thinking ahead when he became one of the first UConn students to join the Eurotech Program in 1994. He was looking forward to a job after graduation - a good one - when he chose to spend a year studying abroad, at the University of Constance in Germany. And he was looking several years down the road recently, when he discussed his current career and what he may do when he eventually returns to the United States from his job at Bayer-AG, in Leverkusen, Germany.

But he was looking back when he returned to UConn in early October to discuss his job and Eurotech - in English and in German - with the 45 students now enrolled in the comprehensive program, which rewards graduates with degrees in engineering and German.

"It's a great program - it put me into the international market - and I'd definitely recommend it. But it's tough, because there are so many things you have to learn. Engineering is hard enough, and then to put German on top of it. It's not for everyone," he said.

Not just everyday German, although courses in German literature and culture are part of the program, but also specifically in technical German. Schwegler and other soon-to-be graduates of the Eurotech Program are trained to move into research and technical jobs in international companies that also have a major U.S. - and Connecticut - presence. Even before they join the workforce, they must be able to discuss engineering concepts in German in preparation for the six-month internship in Germany that is an integral part of the program.

Four students have now graduated from the program, says Richard Long, a professor of civil engineering and director of the program.

Schwegler discussed his 18 months with Bayer, where he also performed his internship, with students in the program's German class, and with all the current Eurotech students during a reception that evening. It has been, he says, an exciting few years.

A chemical engineer, Schwegler's expertise is in distillation, the process of separating fluids. Now, little more than one year into his job, he has been charged with designing a process to develop a new product, an optical quality plastic for computer discs and other applications. And Bayer isn't the only company conducting the research.

"It's very exciting," Schwegler said recently from his parents' Glastonbury home, where he was visiting. "Whoever develops the most efficient process, one that features quality, safety, and is environmentally sound - and who does it first - has the leading edge" to the market, he says.

Schwegler says he hopes to stay in Germany for another two or three years - enough time to see a product through to development - then take a transfer back to the United States. By then, Europe will be a second home to the UConn alumnus, who has already visited about a dozen European countries. And the global marketplace will seem much smaller than it did when he was an undergraduate.

Richard Veilleux