How did you find your internship?
From a college counselor - a program called DAAD Rise Germany.
I did chemical engineering research for TU Dortmund. My work was focused on investigating and better understanding the properties of rotating packed beds. I was responsible for designing and conducting experiments that would allow me to characterize the properties of rotating packed beds for different liquid-liquid mixture separations. At a specific concentration, I would test several different rotational speeds and liquid filter porosities - based on that I would take samples of the liquid leaving the rotating packed bed and test the absorption levels to determine the time the mixture took to reach steady state. I spent over 40 hours a week in the lab working on the experiments, and I was instructed and guided by two graduate students; Dennis Wenzel, and Hina Qammar. They would give me references to study and ideas for the experiments, but I would conduct them and write up the results on my own. I was able to create graphs that showed the relationship between different characteristic changes in the rotating packed bed, and how it affected steady state time. It helped to add on to a manual that could be referenced to for further applications of the rotating packed bed.
-Developed experiments to characterize the relationships of variables in liquid-liquid separations performed on rotating packed beds and their relationship with steady state times
-Conducted daily chemical composition acid/buffer solutions that would be tested at different concentrations and flow rates within a rotating packed bed
I learned to do a lot of independent work which taught me the importance of organizing and planning out my time. I was in charge of conducting and logging in the data for a set amount of experiments each week, so I had to learn to manage how much materials I used as well as the amount of waste I was producing with each run. I learned all the intricacies of working with rotational packed beds, and was able to trouble shoot the machine depending on the sort of error and malfunction occurring. I really learned to be independent and problem solve using creativity, as well as knowing when to ask questions. I worked with people who did not know English as their first language, and I had to learn to present my data in a way that everyone could understand and be able to use for future experiments.
Advice for Engineering Students:
If you really want to try something new, experience a different culture, meet new people, and re-invent yourself, going abroad is a priceless opportunity. It can seem overwhelming, out of sight, and complex, but you get a chance to learn in more about the world around you that you can't see in a typical internship setting. I will forever be grateful for all the experiences I learned while abroad; I made many mistakes, and I felt lost several times, but I learned to adapt to those mistake and find paths when I was lost. There is so much to see, and I deeply encourage anyone to take time abroad to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to embrace the differences you can find thousands of miles away.
Memorable Moment/Challenging Situation:
The hardest thing I experienced was adapting to life on my own the first week in Germany. I got lost to work the very first day, I missed the last train home my second night, and I lost my keys the third day in Dortmund. Each time, I felt like I was never going to make it two months on my own. However, with time I learned from my mistake and I became more responsible and managed adapt to adversity. Now, I am at a point where I understand the importance of mistakes and can deal with challenges in a composed way. It is not easy to be wrong, but it is essential to know how to manage yourself in times of fear and dissolution. I know I became a stronger person.
Best Part of Your Experience:
I had the privilege of making new friends and seeing parts of the world I did not know existed. I learned how big the world really is, and how much there is to see outside of Ann Arbor.
Photo Title & Location:
RPB Experiment #82 (TU Dortmund, Germany)
After more than one month, this is the moment when I received the first positive data from my experiments that could be used to benefit future research. I am seen in the photo next to the rotational packed bed that I worked with this summer, monitoring the changes in composition of the mixture occurring within the system.