Job, Research, Travel Fall into Place
When Patricia Coutts graduated on May 22 with degrees in chemical engineering and German, she departed with research experience, memories of a year spent abroad, and best of all—an excellent job in her field.
Coutts, a native of Staatsburg, N.Y., enrolled in the URI International Engineering Program, which meant she would spend a year studying in Germany and interning at a global company.
“I had never been abroad before, so I was nervous to be in a foreign country where they don’t speak English,” said Coutts, who played rugby and varsity field hockey at URI. “I was skeptical about how well I would do speaking German, but you learn small phrases really fast and you learn to think quickly.”
Her internship was spent outside Munich at Osram Opto Semiconductors. Her job was to help formulate and test a new chemical coating on the company’s products so they aren’t damaged by lasers used in the production process.
“It was great to get out of the U.S. and learn in a foreign environment,” she said. “As a native English speaker, I was somewhat of a novelty there, so I was asked to edit scientific papers and emails that had to be in English.”
Coutts’ internship wasn’t her only experience conducting engineering research. As a sophomore she worked with Professor Stanley Barnett on a project to build a microbial fuel cell that uses bacteria and waste from the production of biodiesel to generate renewable energy.
Months ago Coutts was offered a job at Praxair, a Fortune 300 company that supplies gases to a wide variety of industries: “I went to Houston for the interview, and just a few weeks later they offered me the job. I’ll be going through their year-long training program based in Hatfield, Pa.
It’s the fast track for a good position.”