Internship Field: Mechanical Engineering, Biotechnology
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Duration: 5 months, Spring-Summer 2000
Description: "I worked on the computer modeling of a robot weight-suspension system for use in gait training of neurologically damaged (e.g., stroke) patients. Our project fell within the Fraunhofer Institut's general focus on "applied research" in that our project was not primarily concerned with the development of a specific marketable product. In order to successfully explore a new idea, we synthesized knowledge from diverse fields (in this case, robotics and rehabilitation medicine) and thought creatively about how to construct a functional system whileworking out the details from the bottom up. The Major component of my work involved constructing a prototype model, using MATLAB for system design and graphical modelling. I assisted my supervisor and co-workers with the design of a human model and on its integration with the robot model I developed (and debugging a lot of MATLAB code). Related duties included literature searches for relevant articles in scientific journals, some information-gathering on field trips, and applying a requisite degree of inventiveness to the project and various problems at hand."
Comments: "Given my desire to have some international dimension to my work in the future, I feel that the experience of working outside my native country will prove invaluable to me, far beyond the perspective I have received on work and life in Germany. Although the work style in my group may have been quite similar to what I've experienced doing research in the US, I am sure my internship was the only way to achieve a true and full appreciation for the nuances of German bureaucracy, both within the firm and outside it." Personal rewards: "I was able to take in more of an amazingly dynamic city. Although I am certain that a lifetime in Berlin might not encompass all it has to offer, my first three months were far too short and too preoccupied with classwork and too dark during winter." German language skills: "Astounding. Although I might have picked up some bad language habits from my supervisor [a non-German], my German co-workers helped me greatly. I also am convinced that staying in touch with my Sprachparternin from my academic quarter did wonders for my ability to communicate in the language."