Andrew Cunningham '05

International Affairs and Mechanical Engineering Major | Integrated Safety Senior Engineer, Volkswagen

My goal since the 8th grade--to work for a German automobile company--initially became a reality at Audi of America in Auburn Hills, Michigan, and continued thereafter. The path to reach this goal started with four years of high school German and a year in Kiel, Germany, through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange scholarship program. There I proceeded to become fluent in German, which gave me the foundation to reach my goal. 

At UNH I learned of the International Affairs (IA) dual major program and, with the helpful guidance of Marina Markot from the CIE and Tracey Harvey and advisors of the Mechanical Engineering (ME) Department, I was able to pursue the dual major and aim for international jobs. Through the ME program I spent a semester at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. Due to the combined requirements of the IA dual major, I opted for the four- and-a half-year plan and am very glad I took the extra semester.

In my final summer between academic years, I parted from my summer employment consisting of outdoor adventure trips and sought out an international internship. I applied to IAESTE, the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience, was placed in Lódź, Poland, and started gathering professional experience. My next step was an extra semester through the Bowling Green State University exchange program to Salzburg, Austria, to finish up the remaining university requirements. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute overseas and grew in ways I never expected on the trail of this international position I had been seeking.

My professional career has been relatively diverse with content that incorporates my IA dual major. My first position was a product support engineer for Audi where the group monitored product quality in the field and reported findings for product improvements to the engineers and the factory. In addition, I coordinated the 2007 TT and 2008 R8 new product launch for the US market. Subsequently, I moved on to an engineering firm and worked on a hybrid battery development project among other endeavors.

Currently, I am at Volkswagen Group of America supporting both Audi and VW in the US, focusing on the development of integrated safety systems. Among the systems involved in integrated safety are vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, forward collision warning, electronic stability control, intersection movement assist, and lane departure warning. My responsibilities with VW/Audi include working with government agencies and with other vehicle manufacturers on policy and product development.

International business, especially in the technical automotive world, is a fast-paced and exciting area in which to work. Working with international development teams combined with a government-funded vehicle manufacturer collaborative proves to be a complex task every day. UNH and the International Affairs program played a vital role in providing the guidance and education required to help me perform in this function. I extend many thanks to the Mechanical Engineering and International Affairs Programs and faculty at UNH who helped me prepare for the international technical business world.