A study abroad experience for students at RIT’s College of Engineering Technology (CET) took place on Zoom when the class connected with peers from Hochschule Mittweida University of Applied Sciences in the center of Germany.
Fourteen RIT students were part of the Global Engineering Experience – Automotive Electronics spring class taught by Martin Anselm, Assistant Professor in the Department of Manufacturing Technology and Mechanical Engineering at CET. This was to be the on-site class for an international faculty-led program that would continue over the summer with trips to Germany. While travel plans have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students are still in touch with their peers through Zoom meetings for culture and language lessons as well as lessons in design principles of the automotive engineering to understand the perspective of the industry of two continents, said Jarrett Duncovich, one of the students.
“We had a meeting with the students in Germany at the start of the semester to introduce ourselves,” he said. “We had other courses on German culture, traditions and basic language. The week before our presentations, Professor Weidermann from Mittweida explained to us the importance of finite element analysis on a design.
FEA is the process of using computer simulation to model the behavior of a part or assembly during the design phases. The combination of automotive technology and electronics manufacturing was a way to help students understand how components are integrated into today’s vehicles and the skills they would need to work in the industry.
“During the semester, we learned about manufacturing electronic components and even looked at a few examples of PCBs from two different cars to assess how their design and characteristics differed,” said Nicole Cuello Wajdowicz, another student in the program. . “This was to help us understand and differentiate how the products are designed for the environment in which they will operate. “
In preparation for the end of semester group presentations, each of the students familiarized themselves with several automotive electronic systems and analyzed the types of designs on the assemblies to take into account the environment in which they would be placed as well as the production processes. manufacturing. (These presentations were to take place in Germany.)
“It gave us a basic understanding of how the United States produces these devices,” said Duncovich, a native of Islip Terrace, NY, and graduated in May. “When it came time for presentations, we researched sources through academic sources, Google searches and compiled our research into a presentation. After compiling the collected research and spending weeks finalizing the presentation with Dr. Anselm’s comments, we presented it on Zoom to the class in Germany.
Anselm, who is also director of RIT’s Electronic Manufacturing and Assembly Center (CEMA), has been taking students to Hochschule Mittweida University since 2017. This is one of the many programs presented by RIT Global, led by professors, where professors combine studies on campus. or project-based initiatives during the semester with international travel experience to enrich course topics. Anselm’s course is both a cultural and technical immersion in the automotive industry and electronic assemblies for vehicles and how different countries approach the latest innovations in automotive design and development.
Upon completion of the semester, students would visit the German campus for just over two weeks with lectures and activities with students from Hochschule Mittweida and afternoon tours of regional historic sites and visits to some of the the world’s largest auto companies, including BMW. , Volkswagen and Porsche, located near Leipzig and Dresden. Another draw, especially for the RIT students of the RIT Baja and Formula Racecar teams, are the meetings with peers from the Formula team of the Hochschule Mittweida.
Anselm has a personal connection to the host university in Germany, which surprises students as they learn more about their classmates abroad and about the university – a 150-year-old international campus with over 7,000 students. Julius Johann Alexander Anselm is one of the former presidents of the university and helped restart the university after World War II.
“This semester is probably a semester we won’t forget for a very long time. My students and I have faced challenges and disappointments this semester that we could not have anticipated, ”Anselm said of the class. “Despite the challenges, we still managed to participate via online platforms to host the Hochschule Mittweida in several common courses and events.”
One of these events was a session with Sarah Reader, a language teacher at Mittweida.
“Americans’ impressions of the cross-cultural introduction and quick German lessons always play a big role,” Reader said in a statement. “Even though we were only able to offer a small part of the regular program, it was once again exciting to answer questions from RIT students about life and everyday life in Germany and about the German language .
COVID-19 changed everything for the group this year, and while they didn’t make it to Germany, there were times that made a big difference for the students, said Cuello Wajdowicz, from New York. She also graduated in May.
“I am very passionate about manufacturing electronics,” she said. “This course was extremely useful in enriching the knowledge I had previously. But also, it was a great opportunity to experience a different culture with different customs. In my opinion, this class is the perfect combination of an engineering course with a cultural course.
For Jarrett, traveling to Germany was on his personal “bucket list”. Although he was unable to travel for this academic year, he enjoyed how today’s auto market is so interconnected.
“When we enter the world of work, you are expected to communicate with different personalities, languages, cultures and expectations, all trying to unite around a common goal. Some of the things I took away from it is that even though we are separate oceans and come from different cultures, the knowledge of engineering and the science behind it is a universal language.