Back to Profiles


Internship Field: Engineering, Robotics, Mechatronics

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Host: Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation

Location: Magdeburg

Duration: June – September 2008


Description: My task was to design the mechanical aspects of a mechatronic system that could autonomously open and close doors. This was an extension of a project already in development to design a robot that would help scientists in life science laboratories do menial tasks, such as moving samples from one location to another. There was a full Diplomarbeit already completed on this topic in the past, but they found the results unsatisfactory as the design was too complex and expensive to be used.

I was to therefore start from the beginning again, and see how far I could progress during my time at the institute. With my experience from Stanford design classes, I was supposed to begin with a very broad brainstorm and generate many ideas from which an eventual design could be developed. As the ideas became more and more focused over time, I began to make computer simulations with CAD software to visualize the process, as well as numerical models to estimate forces and loads (and even a little bit of physical prototyping). At this point I have made some calculations to give some concrete specifications to the design, and am now working on finding specific components (gears, drives, motors, etc.) that are suitable for my design. [...]

Comments: This project was very worthwhile for me. I got to start from scratch with my own design project, and really get my first taste of the real-world engineering process. Although I found working alone to be sometimes slow and frustrating (especially trying to generate lots of ideas in the beginning), it was also beneficial in some ways. While I might not have gotten as far along as I would have wanted to during this time because I was working alone, I was able to not only see but perform all the steps along the way by myself. I gained some significant and valuable experience with Pro/Engineer, a popular CAD program, and also with the design process itself and writing technical reports to summarize some of my work.

Personally rewarding: I thought the experience and skills I learned were very useful, as I got to experience many facets of the design process. To look at where I have progressed to now, and knowing that I did every bit of it myself is quite rewarding. [...]

This being my first time in Europe, I really did get to experience many new places and cultures. I think that in combination with my quarter studying in Berlin with Stanford, this internship was a really unique experience that allowed me to get a lot more out of my time in Germany. My time in Berlin with the very supportive Stanford staff prepared me by improving my language abilities and getting used to living in Germany, and allowed me to make good friends with other students who would be staying to do their internships as well. With this preparation, the adjustment to my new life almost entirely on my own was not too overwhelming, although still difficult. I got to see a completely different side of Germany from the normal tourist cities, and really got to know the city by living on my own for an extended period of time. While it was great to meet new people and make new friends in our respective cities, I think some of the most memorable experiences were traveling around Germany with other Krupp interns. Having a base of friends also working in Germany (only possible with a program like ours) helped us prevent homesickness and allowed us to share and discuss our experiences with others in similar positions.

German language skills: My language skills are nowhere near fluent, as I entered the internship with only one school year of instruction. However, I do feel that my abilities have improved significantly, especially with comprehension and learning many of the more informal phrases and words that we did not learn in the classroom but are very common. My region (Saxen-Anhalt) did have a particularly hard accent to understand in the beginning, but I have become somewhat accustomed to it and I think my German ability has definitely improved.

For further information, please write to

Top of page