In 2004, the National Science Foundation awarded the University of Rhode Island faculty $2.4 million to support educational and research initiatives in collaboration with partners in Germany. Building on URI’s existing relationship with the Technische Universität Braunschweig (TU-BS) in the area of microfluidic technology and its Dual Degree Master’s Program, the project developed research opportunities from the undergraduate through the graduate level, culminating in a new International Ph.D. The NSF funding supported graduate students, all of whom spent part of their programs in Braunschweig. The project’s technical goals were focused on two applications:
- Design of a system to detect the early response to pathogen infection using a microfluidic “lab-on-a-chip.”
- Use of microfluidic technology to study the generation of fluid pressures in sediments due to seismic loading and lead to a better understanding of the triggering of tsunamis.
A key element of the project was the international collaboration with scientists and students at the Technische Universität Braunschweig, which has the complementary technical infrastructure and expertise necessary to pursue this program of research. URI is a leader in training engineers for the global marketplace through its renowned International Engineering Program. It has partnered with Braunschweig on engineering education for undergraduates for 10 years, and has exchanged over 450 students during that period. An international Dual Degree Master’s Program was launched in 2004, and a joint doctoral level program in 2008.