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Record Number of UH Engineering Students Headed to Germany for Research and Adventure

By: 

Rashda Khan
Meet the 2019 UH DAAD-RISE scholars. They are heading to Germany for internships at research institutes this summer.
Meet the 2019 UH DAAD-RISE scholars. They are heading to Germany for internships at research institutes this summer.
Christopher Hixon, a UH mechanical engineering senior, will work at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology.
Christopher Hixon, a UH mechanical engineering senior, will work at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology.
Vincent Laroche, also a UH mechanical engineering major, will work at the Technical University of Braunschweig.
Vincent Laroche, also a UH mechanical engineering major, will work at the Technical University of Braunschweig.
Mary Olear, a UH industrial engineering major, will work at the Technical University of Dortmund.
Mary Olear, a UH industrial engineering major, will work at the Technical University of Dortmund.
Maria Laura Rossodivita, a UH chemical engineering major, will be working at the Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel
Maria Laura Rossodivita, a UH chemical engineering major, will be working at the Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel
Jesus Silva Rodriguez, a UH electrical engineering major, will be working at the Technical University of Dortmund.
Jesus Silva Rodriguez, a UH electrical engineering major, will be working at the Technical University of Dortmund.
Joshua Tran, a first-generation college student and UH chemical engineering major, will work at the Technical University of Braunschweig.
Joshua Tran, a first-generation college student and UH chemical engineering major, will work at the Technical University of Braunschweig.

Eight University of Houston students – all from the Cullen College of Engineering and the Honors College – won 2019 DAAD RISE research scholarships and an opportunity to work at top German universities and research institutions this summer.

Established in 2005, the highly competitive program is sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service, Germany’s publicly funded but independent organization of higher education institutions, known by its German initials as DAAD. RISE stands for Research Internships in Science and Engineering.

DAAD RISE summer internship opportunities are offered to undergraduates from the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland. About 300 scholarships are available each year. This year, the program received 1,901 applications and accepted 318 students.

“The DAAD RISE Program is an exciting, fully-funded opportunity for undergraduates to receive both research and international experience during the summer,” said Ben Rayder, director of national fellowships and major awards at the UH Honors College. “In the last two years, UH has seen a spike in recipients – from three to eight, which has been made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Honors College and the Cullen College of Engineering.”

While two students declined the award in order to pursue other opportunities, six have their summer in Germany planned: career-building research, learning German and lots, and lots, of traveling and adventure.

Stuart Long, professor of electrical and computer engineering and associate dean of undergraduate research and the Honors College, is proud of the Cullen College students.

“It’s great to see our hardworking and creative engineering students taking advantage of research opportunities like this,” Long said. “I know the DAAD RISE summer internships will provide great experiences and take them onto even more important accomplishments.”

Meet the University’s 2019 DAAD-RISE scholars:

Christopher Hixon
Research Project: Modelling and Simulation of Fiber-Reinforced Leaf Springs

Christopher Hixon, a mechanical engineering senior, will work at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology. He chose his major because he wanted to build fast cars and he is looking forward to working on optimizing leaf spring suspensions, which is a key part of the automotive industry’s goal to reduce the weight on every component of vehicles while maintaining strength, performance and reliability.

“I am most excited to gain experience doing research in a country that is known around the world for outstanding engineering and gaining experience in the automotive industry,” Hixon said. “For fun, I want to visit different race tracks around Germany like the Nürburgring, try German beer and, hopefully, do some mountain biking.”

Vincent Laroche
Research Project: Recycling Processes of Fibrous Particles

Vincent Laroche, also a mechanical engineering major, chose his project because of his interest in sustainability and the environment. He will be working at the Technical University of Braunschweig analyzing the bulk flow of fibrous particles in recycling processes. The main goals of the project are to find how different factors affect the efficiency of bulk flow and to use this data to determine the most optimal conditions for recycling.

“This research is important because recycling and recyclable materials are becoming more and more common in the modern world,” he said. “The knowledge this research could provide would advance our understanding of optimal recycling processes.”

Mary Olear
Research Project: Blockchain Technology in Supply Chain Management

Mary Olear, an industrial engineering major, will work at the Technical University of Dortmund. Her project will focus on the implementation of blockchain technology in supply chain management – whether dealing with the financial aspects or pertaining to warehouse and delivery – with the goal of increasing efficiency, transparency and innovation.

“Along with the research experience that I hope to gain from this internship, I’m excited to have access to some of the other ongoing projects currently being researched by the Fraunhofer Institute. They research everything – from energy and the environment to production,” Olear said. She also hopes “to take in all that Europe has to offer.”

Maria Laura Rossodivita
Research Project: Particle Engineering for Dry Powder Inhalation - A Pharmaceutical Approach

Maria Laura Rossodivita, a chemical engineering major, will be working at the Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel located in the port city of Kiel in northern Germany. Her project will focus on inhalable medicine and ways to increase the amount of drug reaching the lungs by the use of interactive blends dispersed by inhalation devices.

“Since my mom was a doctor in Venezuela, I've wanted to explore the medical field and see if it's the right place for me. If I end up really enjoying this project, I hope to pursue pharmaceutics to create new and better medicines that can save lives and improve the quality of life for many people with debilitating diseases,” Rossodivita said. “Also, growing up during the American opioid crisis inspires me to use my engineering abilities to create medicine that doctors can give to their patients, to help alleviate their pain, without fearing the risk of addiction.”

Jesus Silva Rodriguez
Research Project: High Voltage Engineering in the Field of Future Energy Grids in Key Technology HVDC Transmission

Jesus Silva Rodriguez, an electrical engineering major, will be working with high voltages measurement systems and research insulation materials that can withstand this high electric potential at the Technical University of Dortmund.

“These high voltage systems could be used in future energy grids powered by renewable energy systems such as solar and wind power systems,” he said. “One of my greatest passions is renewable energy technologies because I believe that it is now time to stop using fossil fuels and depend solely on renewable energy sources before the negative ecological impact on our planet becomes irreversible.”

Silva Rodriguez is excited about his first airplane ride.

Joshua Tran
Research project: Cleaning Mechanisms in Food-Processing Plants

Joshua Tran, a first-generation college student and chemical engineering major, will work on optimizing cleaning strategies for food-processing plants at the Technical University of Braunschweig.

“This research will help battle the economic and ecological disadvantages that food-processing plants encounter,” said Tran, who was intrigued by the project’s combination of engineering and food.
He is looking forward to using his passport for the first time and experiencing the university culture in Braunschweig.

A RISE internship offers STEM students a way to incorporate experiential learning into their degree plan, without delaying graduation, as well as an opportunity to see a bit more of the world . The DAAD will begin accepting applications to next summer’s RISE Germany program in November 2019. For more information, contact Ben Rayder at brayder [at] uh [dot] edu (subject: DAAD%20RISE%20Info) .

“I look forward to advising more STEM students from across UH about the DAAD RISE Scholarship and encourage all prospective applicants to contact me,” Rayder said.

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