Targeted Travel: IEP Visits to Develop European Partnerships

Following last year’s general hiatus on global travel, the International Engineering Program was grateful to once again be able to visit with many of our students interning abroad and participate face-to-face in strategic meetings with our international colleagues in academia and industry.

Left: Dr. Sigrid Berka and Javier Genuzs, of TECNUN’s International Relations Office, San Sebastián, in front of a Formula 1 car built by the university’s team. Center: Visiting the CEIT Center for Applied Research at the University of Navarra. Left to right: Leticia Zamora from CEIT, SIEP intern Mariah Messinger, Dr. Berka and Javier Genuzs. Right: Dr. Berka and Dr. Iñaki Pérez-Ibáñez in Pamplona, Spain. (Photos courtesy of Dr. Berka)

Spearheaded by Dr. Sigrid Berka, executive director of the IEP, this summer’s comprehensive set of site visits spanned four different countries and brought together professionals from the fields of international education, STEM and the humanities for a common cause – collaboration across borders. For some, this was the first time taking part in such discussions with the IEP, for others, it was the resumption of a time-honored tradition. Topics of interest included: securing ERASMUS funding for student exchanges, starting and expanding dual master’s programs, co-instruction of STEM courses by US and European faculty members, the placement of future interns, and possible research opportunities, among others.

Left: French IEP intern Jelani Pool poses with her supervisor Frédéric Aury, technical director of the engineering division of Vinci Maritime et Fluvial in Paris. (Photo credit: Dr. Berka). Center: Safety first! Dr. Erickson (second from right) at GTM Hallé with FIEP intern Caitlin Murray (second from left), her boss (right) and an HR rep. (Photo credit: Caitlin Murray)

Right: Dr. Berka and Dr. Eika Auschner (left), responsible for international university strategy, visiting Braunschweig Botanical Garden. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Berka)

Several IEP alumni, both those seasoned in their careers and those just starting out, played a role in this important endeavor as well by giving advice to current students, facilitating connections within their companies and/or outlining prospective internship positions for the coming year. Alumni help is especially crucial since we are going into a transitional year for both the French and Spanish IEPs. We just appointed a fabulous full-time lecturer, Dr. Odile Mattiauda, to assume FIEP responsibilities while Dr. Erickson is on sabbatical in France this year. Dr. Pérez-Ibáñez is finishing his term as SIEP director at the end of August and his SIEP duties will be taken over by an outstanding full-time lecturer in Spanish, Adriana Wright Morales.

German IEP alum John Ellwood leads an interdisciplinary team of R&D in the latest computed tomography group technology at Siemens Healthineers. After the IEP, he went on to participate in the URI/TUBS dual masters program and later, while at Siemens Medical, got his doctorate in TUBS’ Institute for Tool Machines and Industrial Production. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Berka)
This year, our first GIEP/BME student Heather Difazio (right), is interning with John Ellwood’s team at Siemens Healthineers. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Berka)
Productive meetings in Paris at Forssea Robotics with French IEP alum lan McElroy (right), who is working as a robotics engineer, Auguste Bourgois, lead navigation engineer, and Alaa al Sawad, lead robotics engineer. Ian started out at Forssea in 2020 and has since helped the IEP connect with this new company. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Berka)

A final but crucial element of this summer’s travel – the valuable time spent with our interns. Over the course of the summer, Dr. Berka, Dr. Lars Erickson and Dr. Tracksdorf met with a grand total of 21 interns in a variety of locations across France, Germany and Spain. During each site visit, students had the opportunity to present in their target language about the diverse projects they are working on for their particular company or lab. The three IEP directors learned about subjects such as road construction, harvesting energy from pavement, li-ion battery lifetime improvement, medical imaging, bidirectional DC/DC converters and even how fishing reels are designed! As always, we are thankful for our interns’ collective hard work and willingness to learn. While our students have gained valuable experience and networking connections for their careers, the positive impressions that they have left behind will help to pave the way for future internship placements, keeping this cycle, so vital to the IEP, alive.

Dr. Niko Tracksdorf (left) with a group of German IEP students during a visit to Nuremberg, Germany. From left to right: John Marshall, Sean Babin, Heather Difazio, and James Kozlowski. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Tracksdorf)

Center: Enjoying time together with GIEP alum John Ellwood (left) and GIEP students Heather Difazio (second from left) and Holm Roeser (right) in Erlangen. (Photos courtesy of Dr. Berka). Right: Dinner in Stuttgart with GIEP interns Anastasia Paraliticci (second from right), at Mercedes-Benz, Robert Russo and Ian Wyllie (center left and right), at Bosch, Ian’s mentor Michael Giuseppe Marino (left), Anastasia’s mentor Roland Winter (second from left) and Carmen Winter (right), who formerly taught in URI’s German summer school. 

Summer 2022 IEP Partnership Visits

Universities & Research Centers

Left: A great catch! Gavin Carey, German IEP intern at Ralf Vosseler KG located in Germany’s Black Forest region, showing off the behind-the-scenes work that goes into today’s fishing reels. Since he is an avid fisher, this internship was a perfect fit for him. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Berka)

Université de Technologie de Compiègne (UTC, visited by Lars Erickson)
Cen­ter for Mar­ine En­vir­on­mental Sci­ences (MARUM), Universität Bremen
Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology and Automation (IPA), Universität Stuttgart, Vaihingen
Max Planck Institute, Heidelberg
Technische Universität Braunschweig (TUBS)
Technische Universität Darmstadt (TUDa)
Ostschweizer Fachhochschule (OST, Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences), Rapperswil
Universidad de Cantabria (UNICAN) & Laboratory of Coastal Engineering, Oceanography and Hydraulics (IHCantabria), Santander
Universidad de Navarra (TECNUN, School of Engineering) & Ceit Center for Applied Research, San Sebastián
Universidad de Zaragoza (UNIZAR)

Dr. Berka paid a visit to IHCantabria, UNICAN’s Environmental Hydraulics Institute, where she was able to tour the facilities with CVE/coastal engineering faculty and deans, and enjoyed seeing its 40m wave tank in action. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Berka)


Eurovia (Vinci Construction), Bordeaux
GTM Hallé (Vinci Construction), Nancy (visited by Lars Erickson)
Forssea, Paris
Vinci Maritime et Fluvial (Vinci Construction), Chevilly-Larue
BASF, Ludwigshafen
Bosch, Feuerbach
IAV, Braunschweig, as well as Nuremberg and Munich (visited by Niko Tracksdorf)
Mercedes-Benz, Sindelfingen
MTU, Munich (visited by Niko Tracksdorf)
Nynas, Harburg refinery, Hamburg
Physik Instrumente, Karlsruhe
Porsche, Weissach
Ralf Vosseler KG, Talheim
Siemens AG, Erlangen
Siemens Healthineers, Forchheim
ZF, Friedrichshafen
3PBio, Noáin
Epic Power, Zaragoza
Hexagon, Barcelona

This is a student cafe at UNICAN. On the wall it says "El café ayuda a quien duerme poco y sueña mucho" means "The cafe helps those who sleep little and dream a lot".
Left: Dreaming up new ways to collaborate in Spain – Dr. Berka meets with Dr. Marina Miranda (left), Dr. Jorge Rodriguez (center left) and Dr. Daniel Castro Fresno (right), all faculty members in civil engineering at UNICAN in Santander. URI recently established an OCE dual master agreement with UNICAN and is now looking to establish one in CVE.

Center: Dr. Berka got to see MARUM’s international deep-sea core repository at the University of Bremen, one of only three in the world. Right: On a visit to Porsche, Dr. Berka learned about what goes into the acoustic design of their cars, from quiet models to those with the “typical Porsche sound” a buyer might expect to hear. (Photos courtesy of Dr. Berka)