Vicki Rice
Kearney Hub education writer

Exchange programs are nothing new for UNK, but three students from Reutlingen University are part of an exchange first for the campus.

Mesut Dogan, Frederik Spiess and Dominic Morath are spending a semester studying in the industrial distribution program through a recently formed partnership with the university in southwest Germany. Through the partnership, Reutlingen University students will study at UNK and UNK students can spend a spend a semester at Reutlingen. UNK’s industrial distribution program is one of only 16 in the United States.

Dr. Stan Lightner, associate professor of industrial technology, said there are many similarities in the two partner schools’ programs. The ball started rolling for the partnership when the son of a professor at Reutlingen did an internship at The Buckle Inc. in Kearney and stayed with Dr. Ken Larson, industrial technology chair.

Dr. Lightner had been looking for a program to try a partnership with and decided to pursue one with the German university.
During the last academic year, he spent a week there visiting companies.

“There are a huge number of opportunities, and connections with business and industry,” he said. The partnership is in the recruiting phase, and Dogan, Spiess and Morath recently made presentations to members of the industrial distribution organization and students in classes.

The industrial distribution students at Reutlingen University have to study a semester abroad. Dogan said he was glad for the opportunity to do that through the new partnership with UNK. The experience in Kearney has been good for him.

“We have been very well treated,” he said. Dogan had feared Americans wouldn’t be friendly. “Before coming here, I was prejudiced, but my view has changed totally.”

Many German students come to America, but not as many Americans go to Germany, Dr. Lightner said. He sees opportunities for cooperation in both bachelor’s and master’s programs for studying, as well as for internships at the two schools.

While the academics are important, he said the chance to experience another culture is important, too.

“They’ll never look at the world the same. … It’s a wonderful opportunity for American students to get out in the world and to be exposed to a different culture and different ideas.”