While Mickey Mangan may be working far from the field of his major in mechanical engineering, it was while completing that degree at Illinois that he discovered his passion for international travel. Mangan took advantage of opportunities through IPENG to study in Chile for a semester in 2007 and in Jordan during the summer of 2008 where he took a six-week course in Arabic.


Mickey ManganMangan found an affinity for math and physics at a young age and was accepted in the competitive mechanical engineering program at Illinois. While a student, he founded the Rube Goldberg team, helping Illinois become the first school to defeat Purdue in the annual competition. Mangan was also a member of the team that finished second only to a university in Germany in the 2009 Solar Decathlon competition.

It was through IPENG, that Mangan completed equivalency courses ME 300, TAM 212, and TAM 251 in Spanish during his semester in Chile and credits his need to focus during lectures for his success in the class.

“Because of my focus on learning the language, I was attentive in the lectures and learned engineering concepts better,” Mangan said. “At the end of the semester, I was helping my classmates study while they were enriching my Spanish.”

After graduation, Mangan worked for two years as a project manager at a pump manufacturing company in Wisconsin before moving to Germany to participate in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professional (CBYX) program. While there, he took a john as a production manager for a filmmaking company in Cologne and is now using those skills in a creative way.

Mangan was one of 50 finalists of the 3,000 submissions for Jauntaroo’s “Chief World Explorer” to travel the world for a year and post videos for the travel matchmaking website. Last month he appeared on the WGN Morning News in Chicago to share his vision.

Although Mangan wasn’t selected for the role, it has his given him more to focus on his passion, “The Lernen to Talk Show”, where he is teaching others how to learn a foreign language simply by talking to people in that culture and having them correct you Mangan is in the process of founding a non-profit organization for that endeavor. His first video had over 100,000 hits in the first 36 hours and put him the front page of Reddit.

“I think of language learning in engineering terms where in pressure differential, you’re forced to rise to meet the demands of your environment,” Mangan said. “I feel it’s only because I studied engineering that I’m doing what I’m doing now.”

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