DAAD RISE Program research summaries
Students often come to Carnegie Mellon because they believe they have something to offer to the world. They have talent, passion, and a strong work ethic. They have an innate drive for knowledge, but even more than that, they crave discovery. And they want to contribute new ideas to the world around them. But where do they begin?
One of the programs through which undergraduates can gain hands-on research experience under the guidance of a faculty mentor and graduate student mentor is the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, or DAAD). This past summer, Carnegie Mellon undergraduates Miriam Hegglin, Yoon Hee Ha, and Michael Matty were accepted to participate in the DAAD Research
Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) program. Below are descriptions of their intellectual escapades.
Hegglin is a rising senior double majoring in civil and environmental engineering and engineering and public policy. After spending last summer doing research at Carnegie Mellon, Hegglin said she “decided to take a giant leap and not only look for opportunities outside of CMU, but outside of the country.” She was particularly drawn to Germany because she was fluent in German during her youth and also has relatives in Switzerland and Spain.
This summer, Hegglin worked at the Philipps-Universität Marburg in Marburg, Germany. “I really love the his- tory of the city and the sense of community here,” Hegglin said. “It is almost like being in a fairytale sometimes.”
For her project, Hegglin focused on sustainable innovation processes in the travel and tourism sector. “We are analyzing the economic, ecological, and social impacts of responsible tourism standards, particularly the Fair Trade Tourism standard, which was pioneered in South Africa,” Hegglin said.
She explained that while travel and tourism is an area of great potential for economic development in South Africa, harmful effects to the local environment and communities can occur if it is not conducted with sustainability in mind.
Hegglin plans to stay at Carnegie Mellon to complete a master’s degree in environmental engineering and is considering going into industry after graduation.
Yoon Hee Ha
Yoon Hee Ha is a rising junior majoring in mechanical engineering. Ha applied to the DAAD RISE program because she believes it will take her one step closer to her dream job: being the chief executive officer of BMW.
Ha interned this summer at Hochschule Hannover in Hannover, Germany. She spent the summer studying pedelecs — electric bikes — through computational modeling.
“Specifically, I developed a MATLAB model that calculates the estimated range of operation with one battery charge,” Ha said. “I developed the model so that it can reflect changes in variables such as the weight of the driver or road conditions.”
She also explored how different conditions would affect the range extenders — additional power units that extend the distance a bike can last — of pedelecs.
“Working on a subject I find interesting was such a blessing this summer,” Ha said. “Because I was genuinely interested in the topic of using electricity as a main source of energy, my research was more meaningful and I had the desire to produce better results.”
After her experience through DAAD, Ha is seriously considering pursuing a master’s degree in Germany.
Michael Matty is a rising senior majoring in physics and was interested in going to Germany because he has some experience with the language.
“The DAAD program seemed like the perfect option since it allowed me to go to Germany, and several of the available projects were very closely aligned with the type of work I want to pursue in graduate school.”
This summer, Matty worked at the Eberhard-Karls Universität Tübingen in Tübingen, Germany. His project involved studying thermal vacancies — defects in crystals where a site in which one would expect to find a particle is instead empty — in close-packing solids. “I looked at studying the thermodynamic properties, such as free energy and pressure, of such materials using a particular expansion for the canonical partition function to a higher order than had previously been done before,” Matty explained.
When asked about his favorite part of the summer, Matty replied, “It’s hard for me to pick a single thing.”
Matty said his lab group was friendly, his faculty and graduate student mentors were “committed to making sure that my work turned into something useful,” and he loved the culture in Germany — especially the soft pretzels.
Matty plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in the future and hopes that he will one day become a professor.