Spanish IEP Student Makes a Huge Difference at a Small Company

Senior Kelly Domogala shared her experience of pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and industrial and systems engineering through the University of Rhode Island’s International Engineering Program.

Kelly Domogala in Spain
Kelly Domogala at José Antonio Labordeta Park in Zaragoza.

When I first arrived in Spain, after going around Barcelona for a few days, I did a two-week immersion program at University of Zaragoza’s campus in Jaca. This was a fantastic opportunity to adjust to Spanish culture and only speak Spanish. It prepared me for the rest of my year abroad.

Once I moved to Zaragoza and started attending the University of Zaragoza’s main campus, I learned a lot about the differences between universities in Spain and the United States. Almost all of the classes there have grades based on just one final exam or paper, which is nerve-wracking compared to having many exams and quizzes like we usually do in the United States.

Kelly Domogala in Spain
Kelly Domogala at Plaza del Pilar in Zaragoza.

Students in Spain also don’t have to take general education classes. They were very surprised to learn that I was taking engineering classes and philosophy classes while abroad in order to satisfy my general education requirements.

All of my professors were extremely nice and understanding, but many times the work was difficult. During one of my classes, ergonomics, I had many projects and worked in a team with three other Spanish students, which helped integrate myself into the culture academically and socially.

I loved Zaragoza so much during the first six months that I was there, I decided to find an internship in the city so I that I could stay there for an entire year. I found an internship at Epic Power, a small company that manufactures energy recovery systems and intelligent power supplies for drives and lifts.

During my time at Epic Power, the company was moving from one manufacturing location to another larger location, in order to keep up with demand. Since they only had 10 employees, almost all of whom were electrical engineers, I was able to get hands-on experience being in charge of the move.

As an intern, I made a huge impact and was given ample responsibility. I designed and implemented the new production layout for the new facility; created process documentation in Spanish, including steps, materials, tools and protection; and increased efficiency, speed, simplicity and cleanliness by developing process improvements.

All of my co-workers were supportive of everything I did. I truly could not have had a better internship experience.

Overall, nothing could have improved my Spanish speaking, writing and listening skills as much as being fully immersed in the Spanish culture through my classes and internship.