I lived in Cologne, Germany from September 2007 until June 2008 and completed a nine month internship with DLR (Deutsches Zentrum fuer Luft und Raumfahrt). DLR is the national German aerospace organization. In addition to aerospace they conduct research in the areas of aviation, transportation, and energy.
Although many departments in DLR use English in their day-to-day communication, my department conversed primarily in German. I had studied German for several years, but needed more experience with my spoken German. Prior to starting my internship, I took a one month intensive speaking course and then continued with a German course offered by DLR.
I worked for the solar research department and my topic was the treatment of water in the textile industry. I conducted many photo degradation experiments with UV irradiation and the Photo-Fenton reaction, which culminated in a presentation titled ‘The Degradation Pathway of Caprolactam by the Photo-Fenton Reaction’. Caprolactam is a chemical found in the textile industry that is slightly hazardous and genotoxic and the goal is to decompose it to less dangerous forms in factories’ wastewater.
The research director for my department shared with me that he would like to develop a program with CU-Boulder to enable more students to have an internship or to do research at DLR in Cologne. This was such a perfect internship for me and I had fun getting to know my colleagues and practicing my German!
On weekends or when I had vacation time, I traveled around Europe visiting countries such as Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Ireland, and England. I also went to many German cities and visited my German relatives.
Living in Europe is a great way to gain international work experience, make new friends, and experience a different culture. I highly recommend the International Engineering Program because you can learn about the engineering practices of another country and make connections that will be valuable throughout your career.