Noah Gilsdorf in Darmstadt, Germany

Darmstadt is located in the Southern part of the state of Hesse in Germany, about 30 minutes south of the city of Frankfurt. It holds the official title “City of Science” because it is a major center of scientific institutions, universities, and high-technology companies. Darmstadt is also a thriving culture center, filled with museums, galleries, expositions, and an old theatrical tradition. There are many old buildings, parks and gardens throughout the city.

Darmstadt is home to Technical University of Darmstadt (TU-D). TU-D is one of Germany’s leading technical universities, and is characterized by a pioneering spirit. The International Research Experience Program (IREP) at TU-D is conducted in English. Applicants are matched with other students based on preference for research topics, and also receive academic support and supervision from a faculty member at TU-D. Students work in a lab setting for approximately 30 hours per week, but also have time to explore the city and travel during the weekends. 

The summer research program is available to students studying Computer Science, Aerospace Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

Noah Gilsdorf is a double major in Mechanical Engineering and Jazz Studios - Bass. He completed the IREP program at TU-D between his junior and senior year at CU Boulder. He had a plethora of information to share about his experience. 

What made you choose this specific study abroad program?
I decided to choose this study abroad program for a few reasons. Most importantly, it was a summer abroad program, because I could not complete a full semester abroad and still stay on track with my two majors. It also was one of the most affordable abroad programs I could find. It also was purely a research program, so it gave me a good insight into research, grad school, and other applications in the field of research. 

What was your experience like during the program?
During the program, I had a great time. It was a very insightful, and learning experience for me. Not only was I learning about the field of engineering research, but also how other country's customs are different from ours. The program's students had a good mix of international students as well, ranging from the U.S. to Canada and Singapore. The day-to-day research was sometimes difficult because it was very self-led, but my supervisor was always available to help and show me a way to go. The department at the university was very kind and included me on a lot of their events, like barbecues, soccer tournaments, and funnily enough after the first day I was there, invited me to participate in a 10k race with them that afternoon. The program included some outings with fellow international students, like a trip to Heidelberg, and a trip to Munich. Other schools across US and Canada who do the same program in Darmstadt had multiple people in the program, however, I was the only CU student to be in the program, which was not bad because a lot of us lived together making it easy to get to know one another. 

How would you rate your academic experience?
My academic experience was very good and I would rate it highly, however, only if working alone is a strong ability. This is because most of the time, I was by myself on my project because I was the only student assigned to my particular project. This made it easy for me to interact with the German grad students, and my supervisor more, which I believe made it a much more enriching experience. 

What would you tell other students who are considering this program?
I do think that this program is what you make of it. I think an important aspect is making sure to do extracurricular activities, like traveling, experiencing the culture, and making friends along the way. Being outgoing in this program makes it much better.