Research, Science and a Summer in Germany

Picture from Germany

This summer, mechanical engineering sophomore Duncan Hacker, of Sudbury, MA, will venture to Pirmasens, Germany. As a participant of DAAD-RISE (an exchange program), he will conduct research on surface coating for ski jumping skis. 

DAAD-RISE hosts science and engineering undergraduate interns at top universities in Germany to work with research groups and gain practical experience. Annually the award funds around 300 participants. In preparation for this summer, Duncan answered a few questions about his career goals and experiences:

  • What do you want to be when you grow up?

I want to be an engineer working in the aerospace industry. It’d be great to work for NASA or SpaceX. 

  • How did this interest develop?

When I was younger I loved looking at the constellations, and math and physics were my favorite subjects. Also, I enjoyed building Legos; I enjoyed building in general.  So, I put all of my interests together: space, math, physics, and creating new things. It became clear that engineering was where I wanted to go.

  • What are the main things you are doing to prepare for your future career?

I’m involved in Alternative Energy Racing Organizations and the America Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. Also, the mechanical engineering classes I’m in are well-taught and great preparation. I’m excited to work in a lab this summer and do engineering research. The research this summer is on ski-jumping skis, which isn’t aerospace engineering, but it is still research and engineering, working in an actual, real lab; this will give me experience that isn’t available in a classroom. 

  • How did you decide to apply for DAAD-RISE?

I wanted to get an engineering related job or internship over the summer, but I also wanted to go to Germany. I thought about doing a semester abroad, but it is difficult and limited as an engineer to get the credits you need, while going wherever you want.
DAAD-RISE will allow me to go to Germany and have the engineering experience I want. When I return, I will continue to take German language and space-related classes.

  • What advice would you offer students considering applying for fellowships?

Don’t always say next time. There are going to be too many things to do next time and you’ll miss out. Seize the opportunity now and make this time “next time.” If you don’t apply you definitely won’t get it; if you apply at least you have a chance. 

Learn more about fellowships here or stop by The UVM Hub any Tuesday between 10:30am – 3:00pm to figure out which awards you should have on your radar.

–Sarah Heath, UVM Career Center, Assistant Director for UVM Partnerships 

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